If you got dressed this morning, beginning by putting your right sock on, you likely put the same sock on first yesterday. As you seat yourself to drive, you will likely run through a habitual routine of preparation. We are creatures of habit.
Habits can be good or bad, some chew their fingernails, while others begin the day with exercise. What most people don’t recognize is the importance of establishing good habits, in religion they are called spiritual disciplines.
A morning begun with a season of prayer and meditation, or perhaps reading a good devotional book can be a habit that shapes the rest of your day and ultimately your life. That time you take with the Bible and a cup of coffee or tea in the morning is training your brain to think in a specific focused way for the remainder of the day. It is the way we train our hearts and minds.
A caution for those of us who engage in social media, when you begin your day on Twitter or Facebook, we are doing the same thing. We are replacing the age old habit of these spiritual disciplines of prayer or Bible reading with a seemingly benign habit of “checking on the world” by reading whatever pops up on our screen.
Rather than being intentional about our lives, we unintentionally replace a choice of shaping ourselves spiritually with a decision that replaces a daily devotional feed with Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
The clamor that took place this last year over Facebook, Fake News, and the foreign influencing of our elections is all confirmation that we are shaped by what we read. The same way that we’ve worried about young children and too much TV time or internet time. We have to be sensitive to how we shape our own lives.
My point is not to say that we should listen to one media stream or another. It is rather to say that to do anything repeatedly, routinely, is training us about what to focus on and how to see it. We will never fill that void, that hunger that craves relationship with God on social media. People of God desire for his word to shape them, to mold their character into the image of the Christ. Substituting, intentionally or not, different less healthy habits, becomes an inadequate diet for what we crave. We will read more and more of the same thing, never being satisfied, increasingly less prepared for the spiritual battles that we will ultimately face.
I am not dropping my Facebook account, but I am more judicious regarding the amount of time I participate. I am increasingly focused on the information that I place in my mind as my day begins and ends. I know what it is that I value, who it is that I love. These are the influences that I willingly put before me.