I had some time to kill before my flight, so I visited the airport newsstand where I noticed the covers of several magazines. I took a picture and sent out a tweet to my modest list of followers along with an edgy comment.
I checked my phone before passing through security to check on the flurry of responses I expected. Nothing.
I glanced again while waiting for the plane. Still nothing.
I looked again before we took off. Nobody cared! My little attempt to pass a lonely hour in an airport with some friendly interaction had turned into the opposite: a brutal cold shoulder of social isolation.
A few days later, I mentioned this story to my wife. “What a great tweet!” she said. She then retweeted it to her larger list of followers. Within seconds, hundreds of people had passed the tweet along, adding their approval.
My wife’s instant affirmation made me feel even worse. Once again, I found myself caught up by the underlying anxiety of approval seeking and popularity tracking that seems to have captured our society.
Seeking instant affirmation
Social media seems to be the place people go to in order to find the approval they crave. Through social media, we connect with people like never before. We receive instant affirmation multiple times a day.
As a result, people spend hours tweaking their digital persona in a search for significance. Yet is social media the best place to look?
I think God was trying to get my attention that day in the airport. He was trying to tell me that even if I only received one “like,” and that “like” was from Him, then I would have all the significance I need. God was saying to me that I am not the sum of my “followers” and “likes.” I needed to come back to what His Word says about me.
God says I am significant because I am His masterpiece. According to Psalm 139:13-14, God “formed my inward parts; [He] knitted me together in my mother’s womb … I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” I am created with a purpose in mind. Moreover, God’s opinion of me, His marvelous creation, is “good” (Genesis 1:21).
Distracted from the story God is telling
So why does God’s opinion of me not seem to matter much? Part of my problem is I also have an enemy who works against me.
Satan wants to distract me from the story God is telling. Especially the part where God will make everything right, pain will be no more, death will be overthrown, all my tears will be wiped away, and His love will win in the end.
Instead, Satan tries to saturate my world with technology, social media, Netflix, travel, food, and comfort. He does not tempt me with things that make me alarmed or suspicious of his activities. He just tries to make me numb—unavailable to hear the truth of who God says I am.
My true identity
If distraction does not work, Satan attacks my identity. He tries to make me insecure and competitive, focusing on myself, trying to make me believe I have to prove myself. Satan does not want me to rest in the sufficiency of Christ.
In a world that divides people into somebodies and nobodies, Satan tempts me with counterfeit identities that will only leave me empty.
No amount of status, likes, or followers will give me the significance I am looking for. Counterfeit identities rest on shifting sands, on fickle people and circumstances that change.
Nevertheless, that does not change my true identity.
God not only declared my value, but He also proved it. Jesus laid down His life for me. As John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus calls me His friend, and He paid the price for that friendship on the cross.
The cross is God’s announcement to the world that I am significant enough for Jesus to defeat all my enemies—death, sin, and the devil—to remove everything that stands in the way of a friendship with me. I am that valuable to God.
Jesus exchanged His life for mine so I could know Him. That makes me significant, even if no one likes my tweets!
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