Each morning, I tweet out three gospel thoughts, plus one on Sunday about the importance of corporate worship. I’ve been doing this for well over a decade now. By God’s grace, my goal is to leverage the global reach and power of social media to comfort people with the life-transforming truths of Jesus Christ.
My team also posts on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube, and LinkedIn. We have been so encouraged by how many of you are being blessed each day by Paul Tripp Ministries on these free platforms.
Of course, there are significant negative ramifications that come from social media use. The research has started to come out, and I’m sure it will get more eye-opening over time. In fact, I recently came off Instagram personally because I was finding it so distracting, unhelpful, and a waste of time.
Today I want to focus on one biblical principle—identity—and how it applies to our social media use. This is the third installment of a five-part series on relationships and everyday life that I have adapted from chapters 3 through 7 of my newest book, Reactivity: How the Gospel Transforms Our Actions and Reactions.)
We all know that people don’t put their real version of life on social media, which is full of struggles and disappointments. We curate the best, the funniest, and the most attractive version of ourselves for the watching world to like.
Take the parents that plan a day trip for their family, with the hopes of experiencing joy, gratitude, and bonding. But the outing is hardly peaceful. The siblings fight the entire time, and the parents lose their patience and say things they regret.
But at the end of a conflict-filled day that you swear never to do again, the parents snap a family photo with fake, forced smiles and post on Instagram with the caption, “Great day out with the family!”
Social media can be dangerous because it allows us to create a false identity of who we are.
What is our identity as followers of Jesus Christ? First John 3:1-3 is an incredibly helpful and encouraging passage:
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”
If you need a reminder about your identity as a child of God, this passage says it all. It covers your past identity, your present identity, and your future identity.
Being secure in your identity as a child of God removes your need to be regularly liked, praised, accepted, affirmed, respected, and agreed with.
In this life, John says that you can expect that the world won’t understand or affirm you because it did not understand or affirm Jesus.
And that’s okay. The Creator and Lord of heaven and earth, who rules all things by his wisdom and power, placed his love on you and named you as one of his children.
So the next time you sit down to scroll or post on social media, stop and remind yourself of who you are by means of glorious, adopting grace. Remind yourself of the identity you already have and, because you do, the identities you do not need.
Here is your freedom from frantically seeking horizontally what you’ve been given vertically!
Paul David Tripp
1. How has social media been used for good? How have you benefitted from these platforms? How else has technological advancement been a common grace from God for all of humanity?
2. How have you been negatively impacted by social media, digital technology, or entertainment media? Are there certain limits or restraints you need to place on your use of these things to protect yourself from stumbling?
3. When was the last time you misrepresented how positive you were feeling or doing when someone asked, when in fact you were struggling? Why were you afraid or embarrassed to share your struggles?
4. How can honestly sharing your struggles with others not only alleviate pressure on yourself, but be a blessing to others?
5. How can you be more intentional when asking how others are doing? How can you gently “probe” and push them to be more honest because of their confidence in the gospel?
6. How can you preach the gospel to yourself using 1 John 3:1-3? How will you remind yourself of your identity in Christ when you are tempted to chase praise, acceptance, affirmation, or respect from others? Be specific and prepare your heart for the challenges ahead.