Moderator's Comments - Posted 28 June 2016

There is no use complaining about social media. Like wealth, it is here to stay. Like wealth, it is very useful.

When I left SMBC in 2011, the student body presented me with an iPad. Frankly, I didn’t know what I was going to do with such a contraption. Now, nearly five years later, I don’t know how I ever coped without it.

With my iPad I do my banking, receive and send emails, read the newspaper, listen to the radio, check cricket, rugby league and even AFL scores. As well, there are all sorts of apps which I find useful.

However, like wealth, there are dangers. Like wealth, social media is a very helpful servant but a dominating and potentially destructive master.  

My quality hours for preparation are in the morning. We all know this requires sustained mental effort to understand the sermon passage. How often is this time interrupted by checking of email and Facebook?   Have you found that social media has displaced the Bible as your first point of call each morning?  

I value various quotes and news which is shared on Facebook.   But Facebook is simply not a good arena for working through serious disagreements between us. Where we have such issues do we think that sharing it with many friends who can then tick like and share it with others, is conducive to the maintenance of our unity?

We all know that Christian unity cannot be manufactured but must be diligently maintained (Ephesians 4:3). Paul says that humility, gentleness, patience and forbearance are the qualities needed to keep the “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”(Ephesians 4:2).

Facebook is an inferior environment for resolving serious disagreements. Face to face meeting, phone calls, a considered letter or email to your brother or sister are much preferred means of resolution.

Have you had anyone say to you, in relation to your device use, “you’ve become addicted to that thing”? At one of our grandchildren’s school, a seminar was recently conducted on teen computer addiction.

Am I an addict, is the servant now a master? I have been confronted by this quote from Michael Horton’s book on “Perfect Freedom”, “what we moderns call “addictions” God calls “idols”…”

The best way to resist the mastery and idolatry of wealth is to take control of it and spread it around. Social media requires us to take the same control so the master becomes a servant again and the idol is smashed. But how? Why not choose your least productive waking hours, for me, 2 – 5 pm, and limit your device access to those hours? In other words, put your device in its place. It serves you, not vice versa.

Where someone has said or written something that offends, go to the person first and seek to deal with the matter face to face, one to one, and think about whether or not it should be in the Facebook arena.

It’s not easy to reassert control, but it is worth it, because when it is put in its place, social media is a very helpful servant.

Last year I preached through Galatians and was encouraged again to examine the fruit of the Spirit in chapter 5. The last fruit listed is, “self control” (Galatians 5:23). The believer may be in a regular battle against all sorts of addictions, none of them is easy to beat. Recognising addictive behaviour is often the first step to reasserting God’s lordship in the power of His Spirit.  

I need to regularly teach my wallet that it is not in control and my use of social media may need the same lesson!

Social media – a very useful servant, an interfering and dominating master

David Cook