Over the past ten years, people have basically become online junkies. It used to be TV, as in over the air or via cable / satellite. But now it’s streaming from your ISP. And there were video games. At first, by ourselves. Then multi-player at home. Now, multi-player over the internet. And all that hasn’t even gotten into social media.
Just the social media aspect of our online lives led 247temp.com to write:
The average smartphone user checks Facebook 14 times a day. And that’s just one social media platform. Between Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and various messaging apps, people are glued to their phones. In fact, people are expected to spend more time online watching videos, shopping, and browsing through Facebook than watching TV this year.
I’m not sure about the Facebook numbers. Seems like many people have lost interest in that. Not that we’re getting more personal face to face time – as in the same room. In fact, a recent commercial has a group of guys in the same room texting each other about where to go eat.
What’s wrong with being online junkies?
Truth is, I can’t really speak all that well to this issue. Most of my online time is spent either writing or doing research on the things I write. That does give me one thing to talk about though. FOMO. Fear Of Missing Out. Not missing out on things of an online junkie. Rather, missing out on things I do now that I couldn’t do if I was the typical online junkie.
Actually, this isn’t just an online junkie problem. However, the chance to write about the FOMO of missing out on real life came up because of the online junkie phenomena of our time. I just want to point out it’s not limited to only those people. It can happen with too much focus on pretty much anything that takes us away from “real” life.
Tom Brady – missing out
A number of years ago, Tom Brady did an interview where the following exchange took place.
BRADY: …There’s times where I’m not the person that I want to be. Why do I have three Super Bowl rings, and still think there’s something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, “Hey man, this is what is.” I reached my goal, my dream, my life. Me, I think: God, it’s gotta be more than this. I mean this can’t be what it’s all cracked up to be. I mean I’ve done it. I’m 27. And what else is there for me?
KROFT: What’s the answer?
BRADY: I wish I knew. I wish I knew…
Yes – someone that many people think has a great life. And yet Tom Brady says, God, it’s gotta be more than this. The weird part is that the answer to the question of what else is there the first word out of his mouth. But he doesn’t see it.
So what is Tom Brady missing? What are online junkies missing?
Jn 10:1 “I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3 The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.
Jn 10:7 Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Jn 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
Jn 10:14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
There’s a lot in there. We’ll go over it in more detail, but here’s two things to pay special attention to.
First: I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. Jesus came so we might have life to the full. Not a life so busy we don’t get to actually “live”, but just try to survive. And not a life so focused on one thing that we fail to see or do anything else. No – it’s real life, the life that we were created to live. The best possible life.
Second: once again, while this article is focused on the life of the online junkie, the issues discussed below apply to every single one of us. After all, we were all created by God. We might not like to acknowledge that, but I believe it’s absolutely true. In fact, I think it takes a greater degree of “faith” to deny God than it does to accept Him. I invite you to check out Who is afraid of science? God? Satan? You? for more on that thought.
That first paragraph of the passage above talks about a thief and a robber. Of course, that’s Satan.
Now, I know some of you are going to have a hard time with this, but let’s get it out right away. Regardless of why we think we’re here on earth, the Bible teaches that Satan’s objective is to keep us away from God. It’s been that way from the very beginning, with Adam and Eve. And it hasn’t changed.
There a passage in Ephesians where Paul writes about the Armor of God. Let’s look at that, then I’ll explain how it fits in with our online junkie discussion.
The Armor of God
Eph 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Eph 6:19 Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
The passage applies for many reasons, but one in particular is very ironic. One very popular thing for online junkies today is known as MMOG. Massive Multiplayer Online Games. Or, there’s MMOPRG – Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games. People spend hours, days, or longer playing at being someone else in some fantasy world.
The reason I say it’s ironic that online junkies spend so much time on these fantasy games is that if they actually read the Bible, they’d see we’re actually involved in real life and death struggles far beyond any game. The catch, of course, is that the struggles Paul writes about are real. There’s no reset button. There’s no coming back to life. It’s one life – lose it and you’re done.
Don’t believe it? Check this out.
Elisha Traps Blinded Arameans
2Ki 6:8 Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, “I will set up my camp in such and such a place.”
2Ki 6:9 The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: “Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there.” 10 So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places.
2Ki 6:11 This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, “Will you not tell me which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?”
2Ki 6:12 “None of us, my lord the king ,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.”
2Ki 6:13 “Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” 14 Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city.
2Ki 6:15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked.
2Ki 6:16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
2Ki 6:17 And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
2Ki 6:18 As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, “Strike these people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.
2Ki 6:19 Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to Samaria.
2Ki 6:20 After they entered the city, Elisha said, “LORD, open the eyes of these men so they can see.” Then the LORD opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria.
2Ki 6:21 When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?”
2Ki 6:22 “Do not kill them,” he answered. “Would you kill men you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master.” 23 So he prepared a great feast for them, and after they had finished eating and drinking, he sent them away, and they returned to their master. So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.
Would that be an awesome Online Game or what?
But this one – unlike the stuff the online junkies play – it’s real. Real life and death. Not physical death. The second death – the death of our soul, if we fail.
Real life junkie
In the rest of the passage from John’s Gospel, Jesus talks about how He is the one we should follow. The One who can give us life – life to the full. Eternal life. And isn’t that another thing people look for in those online games? More lives. Eternal life would be awesome. And here, Jesus is offering it.
But too many people get hung up in the make-believe life of the online games. And yes, I am saying that for some, those online games are from Satan. Not for everyone – but for some. It’s pretty much the same thing for anything we might get addicted to.
Paul wrote about that as well. The specific topic Paul wrote about had to to with sex, which some people do have problems with. But as I said, the theme runs through for anything addictive. So please, don’t get hung up on the fact that he’s writing about sexual immorality.
1Co 6:12 “Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food”—but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
1Co 6:18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
Conclusion – We are basically online junkies
If I could paraphrase the ending, flee from anything that will prevent you from living the life to the full that Jesus offers to us. Skip the fantasy online world. Skip the impersonal “friends” that we gather online, even though we’ve never met and know little to nothing about each other.
Get to know Jesus. Be able to recognize His voice, able to tell the difference between the offers from God and the temptations of the devil. Don’t just play pretend games, when we’re already in the ultimate, real, struggle for our very souls!