Several years ago, I was living outside Boston and working at a prestigious, but very secular, university. I was fully immersed in a secular world, a secular job, a secular society. I was living a life that was very much of the world, doing things my way and getting it all wrong. That’s when my world started falling apart. God was shaking everything, stripping it all down so that there would just be me and Him left. But first, when I was hurting and looking for answers, I Googled it.
I recall the day vividly, sitting in my office in my specially designed ergonomic desk chair that cost way too much, staring at my Mac, and tears streaming down my face. My husband had left, my boss had died, and my daughter was sick.
My computer came alive with that hopeful chiming hum that it makes. I opened my browser and I typed the question, “What am I supposed to do now?” as if a search engine could answer that question.
Of course, I knew it was a silly thing to do. I was very nearly praying that question, but to Google, not God. And of course, it offered me nothing particularly useful.
Just for fun, now, quite a many years later, I searched the same question to see what would come up. First up, a video, then some song lyrics, followed by a list of “17 Things You Should Do Right Now” and “I’m pregnant: What Do I Do Now?”… you get the picture.
A couple weeks ago, my husband read an article from Christianity Today that reports that Mark Zuckerberg claims that Facebook is the new church. As my husband told me this, my mouth gaped open. But, at the same time, I knew it should not surprise me. In fact, I immediately recalled the day I “prayed” to Google.
And it made me ask, “Is this where we’ve come? What if Facebook is the new church, and Google is the new god?”
I knew that much of the world doesn’t spend their days with heads bowed in prayer, but they do spend their days with heads bowed over their phones. I knew I was guilty of social media excess too! I knew I had even once searched those words that should’ve been directed to the one true God, and not the falsely omniscient god of Google.Click To Tweet
While once upon a time, people turned to God for answers, for love, for hope… and they turned to the church for community and teaching, we now look for those things in different places.
We still live in a world of people who are seeking answers and community. Only, now, we spend our days on social media and the World Wide Web hoping to find them.
While nothing has changed with the things people seek, still needing answers, love, hope, acceptance, community and teaching, we seek them in different places. Rather than turning to an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God, we’ve turned our gaze to the neon gods we’ve made.
This song really hits this point home…
I am not declaring all social media or technology to be evil. I think that is as silly as claiming a car killed a person, when there was a drunk driver behind the wheel. However, the world has become drunk with the foolishness and distraction that social media and the internet has offered.
It’s a false god.
Like the children of Israel, when Moses went up the mountain to meet with the real God, the Israelites made themselves a false god to worship to distraction, to fill a void. But it didn’t fill the void. It only distracted. And now we are guilty of the same.
When you seek god in Google, there is no peace. Just emptiness.
I know. After I typed that question, I sat waiting for some magic to happen. Some peace to fill me. Answers to my crisis. A direction. Something. Anything. But there was nothing. No peace. Just emptiness. Just more loneliness.
And that’s the problem. If Facebook is the new church and Google is the new god, the masses who seek fulfillment in those avenues will find nothing, only more emptiness. They may find some temporal distraction, some entertainment, but what the one true God offers is so real, so much more. What the world needs in Jesus. What the world needs is the church to offer a stronger community than the world is finding in Facebook.If Facebook is the new church, the masses seeking fulfillment there will find only emptiness. Click To Tweet
The real God, whose name is YHWH, brings real peace, real hope, real joy, real change, real love, real life. And we, the church, need to be His representatives. He is not a temporal distraction or mere entertainment that leaves us even emptier when our experience is over. Instead, He leaves us full!
I sure hope, that people aren’t actually turning to Google and Facebook to fill the voids of their lives, but unfortunately, it’s probably accurate to call Facebook the new church. Where people once turned to church for community and answers, for help, for fellowship, even the very church is now turning to Facebook to meet those needs. And we need to be careful not to fall into that trap.
Facebook, unfortunately, is like the mega of megachurches. It’s everywhere, connects everything and offers everything from virtual parties to virtual Bible studies, to virtual community. It’s tempting to surrender our days to Facebook browsing and Internet googling, I know! But God designed us for actual face-to-face relationship with real people and not pretend personas. We have to fight this new “church” that Zuckerberg wants us to surrender to, and persist in engaging with others in real life fellowship, real life community, real worship… we need to be the real church.
We must not settle for answers that an algorithm generates at the click of a few keys, but seek God for His real direction that is personal and individualized to us, because He knows us, He made us!We must not settle for answers an algorithm generates, but seek God for His real direction... Click To Tweet
So, what if Facebook is the new church and Google is the new god? God forbid!