Today I deactivated my Facebook account. This wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction, I put some time and prayer behind my decision and decided it was time to ‘cut the cord’ to what I realized had slowly been becoming a Facebook addiction. For me however, it was more than an addiction, it was beginning to effect my thinking and shape my perspective.
Facebook was becoming my source of identity. I was gathering opinion and then spewing my own take on a thought or subject without a lot of thought or research. It also gave me a platform from which I could speak my mind, and heart, with not much fear of recourse from anyone. After all, I could ‘defriend’, or block anyone who disagreed with me or was rude, or ugly toward me. Kind of cowardly, don’t you think? I could hide behind my Facebook mask. It was making me appear to be something I was not!
But the real crisis point came when I realized I was using Facebook to espouse some rather harsh views which were birthed out of my own fears. Fears of the future, fears of the world’s upheaval, fears of the actions of certain individuals or groups, and the fear that others weren’t paying enough attention to all that is transpiring in the world today. I guess I thought it was up to me to sound the alarm and expose the truth.
You could say I was transferring my fear on everyone else through my posts and seeking out approval for the way I was thinking and responding. I’ve come to realize this WAS NOT healthy for anyone, especially me. There was so much that had been swirling around in my mind lately, regarding the state of the world, eschatological events, terrorism and other things that were, in reality out of my control. Yes, they were frightening and real to me, and I took it upon myself to let everyone else know how real my fear was. I was also expecting them to be just as alarmed, that wasn’t working either.
I desperately needed to find a better way to relieve this fear, angst, and inward turmoil. I desperately needed to re-focus myself on what IS important. I needed to learn to trust and keep quiet and listen.
That’s when my mind was drawn immediately to Scripture, Philippians Chapter 4 to be exact. Paul is writing to the church at Philippi which was experiencing persecution. They were afraid, scared and in fear for their lives. In an effort to encourage them to remain faithful to the faith, he offers this portion of his letter to help center them. To help them battle unbelief and center their hearts and minds.
I needed this passage! And what I’ve found to be so beautiful about what Paul writes is that it is a multi-stage process. In verse 4 he exhorts them to rejoice. Rejoice? When fellow believers were being killed? In verse 5 he exhorts them to be gentle. Gentle? When those who were persecuting their number were anything BUT gentle?
Then, in a two paragraph section (verses 6-9) he lays out how they are to accomplish all of the above.
First he tells them to not be anxious. The words “be anxious” (Greek, merimnao), can refer to being unduly concerned about anything. That was me! I was concerned about things I could not control and fearful because I couldn’t.
Then he tells them to pray and through that, let the peace of God rule, or guard, their hearts and minds. (v. 7) The term “guard” (Greek, phroureo) is a figure drawn from the arena of conflict and is frequently used to refer to the action of a military garrison stationed inside a city. In other words, there wasn’t anything that was going to disturb their peace of mind!
And next the beautiful admonition; “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”
The impact of this admonition is probably best explained in an NIV commentary I read, which states;
He (Paul) tells the Philippians to look for the true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy everywhere around them and to ponder the things in which these qualities are exemplified. Perhaps Paul knows that since the Philippians are being persecuted by the society around them, they will be tempted to reject everything outside the church as indelibly tainted with evil. If so, then this list, with its admonition to look for the virtue (arete; niv “excellent”) in the wider world, reminds the Philippians that, although society sometimes seems hostile and evil, it is still part of God’s world and contains much good that the believer can affirm.
I’ve decided to focus on things that reflect the above qualities and as the Psalmist said, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord the Maker of heaven and earth!” (emphasis added)