Social media has grown in exponential popularity within recent years. One has only to log in to any number of sites to find millions of users with thousands of followers – Twitter included. Click a button, and all of a sudden you have followers. Click again and you can unfollow to your hearts content. My Twitter following has grown quickly in the last couple of weeks. I don’t even want to begin to try and figure out why.
The thought struck me tonight though: One thousand plus followers, but how many do I really know? Do I need to know them? They matter, but let’s be real here. I can’t engage with a 1,000 people and keep my sense of sanity, authenticity and autonomy; or can I? That’s a whole lot of friendship building for which I may feel ill-equipped. I’m not expecting to “make” friends on Twitter; but it does provide me with an amazing opportunity to learn from diverse people. It provides a common space where there are not geographical divides.
It may not be the best avenue for friend-making (all those social media venues), but thank God I have real live connections with family and friends near and far. But the fact remains, connecting with people face-to-face is powerful. Then again there is the social aspect to these new media forms – a chance to connect, literally, with the world – it’s unprecedented.
Such thoughts remind me how grateful I am that I’m intimately known and connected to God who knows my name, my face, and my life. He’s quite familiar with very line and crease and wrinkle; He knows each one. I am not separated from Him. I’ve been invited and so have you. It’s your choice to follow Him or not follow Him and even to unfollow Him. Only in this case they stakes are different – your eternity and destiny.
Tonight Psalm 139 echoes in my mind.
O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it. (NKJV 1020)
There is a melodic peace in the revelation that I am known to God and by God – like He knows my name and all the numbers on my head. Even more heart melting is the fact that He pursues us and doesn’t give up on us. His goodness and mercy follow us all our lives (Psalm 23).
Beloved, He desires for you to know how much He loves you.
When I chose to follow after God, I got more than I bargained for; I got love unconditional, peace I couldn’t pay for, hope I couldn’t afford, and everlasting life. How does this even relate to social media following and unfollowing?
God has no unfollow button – at least – I haven’t read about one. He opts into our lives when we choose Him. And even when we don’t choose Him, He has still gone out of His way to draw us (Romans 5:8). He doesn’t check out, unfriend, delete, block, or spam us when we’ve done Him wrong. He is steady, faithful, longsuffering, forgiving, and kind. He knows we are frail, but it sticks it out with us. When I follow God, I get all of Him; but more than anything I get to know Him, and He knows me. Of course He was following me long before I ever followed him. Jeremiah spoke of this tenacious love-following in chapter 31; “The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with loving-kindness I have drawn you’” (NKJV 1279). This is an amazing and extravagant love!
So here it is – the gist of it all:
I am known. I am not a face lost in the crowd. I am not just a fringes follower. I am not some stranger He’s added to His list of unknown, maybe-I-might-want-to-know-you, just-building-numbers followers. I am not just another digit adding to His ego. To know Him through Christ is to be known, revealed, seen, and heard. His approval is on my life as I seek to follow hard after Him. My following may falter. I am imperfect, but I have the promise of reconciliation. I have the promise of Hebrews 13:5; “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (NKJV 2100). I can rest in this hope. God ain’t giving up on me. This is such a welcome relief. God is not finicky, shifty, wishy-washy, prone to the whim of others, easily swayed, or uncertain. He is rock-solid. He is constant. He never changes.
I don’t “need” followers to affirm my being, my heart, my being, my purpose, or my life. Such solid assurance can only come from my Maker.
So tonight I rethink social media. It is not my source. It is not my life. It is not my provider. Yes, it has wonderful and many advantages, but at the end of the day social media cannot do for my soul what intimate connection can. Tonight I say thank you God for sticking with me. Tonight I say thank you family and friends who have stuck with me. I love you dearly and treasure you in my heart.
To follow or not follow.
That is the question; but tonight whose following really matters in your life? I’d love to hear your story.
NKJV Study Bible. Radmacher, gen ed. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997.