Monday, January 2, 2017

Sharing thoughts of faith: God's social media addiction solution #3

As I mentioned in my introductory post on social media addiction inspired by an article on Breslev Israel's site by Lori Steiner, I believe our individual identity is firmly rooted in our relationship with God. Her article identified the recent social app driven surge of fear in youth stemming from being part of the wrong social crowd and its confirmed influence towards a general state of unhappiness. Ms. Steiner recommended three Judaic solutions for combating social dissatisfaction for these disaffected souls including sharing thoughts of faith in God.

Finding a relationship

I'm pretty sure that at one time I was one of those disaffected souls of an unhappy demeanor mentioned above. Instead of checking my Facebook account, I was more likely semi-lifelessly staring at other people's lives from a dedicated TV sofa or scouting out my next important film to watch. My disconnection to life was a goal since it wasn't fulfilling the need. If there was still one more thing to watch, I felt I had more goals. The internet feeds that. It always has one more thing to read for those news junkies, or one more game to play for the gamers.

But it's an emptiness that is like coming off vacation. The goal always is achieved in quarter-hour segments unless you have cable. That drug called escape keeps you up in a fantasy for a limited time but when you come home you have to deal with the part of you that wants to be in that other place.

The escape feelings can be with other things than TV. I'll spend hours walking in the virtual reality of Google Maps. I was at the Hippodrome in Caesarea today with a tour group. Then my wife called and I came back to my house. Then I decided to visit the Levinsky market area in Tel Aviv but I came back again because had to check on the pot on my stove. And because it was the last day of Hanukkah, I wanted to see a panorama of the Tel Hadid Maccabean fortress site just outside Tel Aviv which is off in the distance over the coastal plain.
But Simon pitched his tents at Adida, over against the plain. (1 Maccabees 13:13)
I could spend hours walking around in Google Maps street view and it would be just the same without the sounds, smells, and tastes, had I visited there and never met anyone. Google has taken all the photos I'll ever need for my vacation, so it spoils the hunting instinct I have for photography that used to give me something to do while I ignored the tourists.

Instead of that never-ending viewing, I needed to find out about God and develop a real relationship with him. And people that knew about God were the people I needed to talk to. Not just asking the enterprising people that made a living off of us people who ask questions and then handing over some cash to them. I had to get educated and that meant studying Torah and the prophets.

It means putting together the pieces of a God-driven life instead of a Google-driven one full of technological distractions which are bad actions. The results of doing that, make me take action -- good actions that are found in the other two solutions of this series (see below). I can expect changes and less anxiety about life in general when I do those more commandment driven behaviors.

But it doesn't mean a divestment of integrated chip run devices, but more of a sanity check on making sure the digital version doesn't become your reality. So you also are called to be introspective for that constant checking. Some might want to call it doubt, but not when it comes to disputing things about God's character that have not been wrong for thousands of years. It's only the people who lack living that life that are able to doubt. I don't doubt myself, but I've had some interesting conversations before I've agreed with me.

Knowing about God creates a need to share him

So start walking. What are the commandments that you know you are not following? Those are the first things to change. God will start changing things around you. You'll start understanding his character as you open up to let our Lord God back into a relationship with you. Sure it takes time. It was at least 40 years of marriage and earning a living by tending sheep for Moses before the Exodus. And then it was another 40 wandering in the desert.

It may not be the right time to start sharing if you haven't felt comfortable about it. Maybe that's because there's not enough knowledge about God in your soul. Let him teach you. Study. Go help others and see what you discover in the mitzvah. Encourage one another and find out how the God of Israel is holding people together both here and in Israel where there's more reason to abandon hope than anywhere else Jews live.

Once you know about God and there's a place in your heart that holds on tight to that, the knowledge will want to spread. Tell a person what God did for you recently. It could be a very positive thing or a correction that set you back on a better path. Offer a tidbit of insight from your weekly readings. Start a blog and write about it. The love of God through knowing him will make you learn to love what he loves. He loves those who love him and keep his commandments.
You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. (Exod 20:5-6) (Deut 5:9-10)
And there you have the reason that I write. I don't write to please others or to compete with other better bloggers on sites that have so much better content. I don't even write knowing Torah as well as I'd like and use as many tools as I can find. I only write because I feel that need to share because I've found an awesome God and found my identity in him.

Our awesome and holy God, let us reflect every day to make sure that we can please you by our obedience and be humbled by how much we fall short of the mark. Give us that next chance and a lesson to learn or some encouragement from another so that we can grow strong in your righteousness. We seek to love you more and the people you love so that our love will help reveal your glory to all the earth.

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