According to Statista, one of the leading statistics companies on the internet, in 2016, 78 percent of U.S. Americans had a social media profile, representing a five percent growth compared to the previous year.
It would seem more people are becoming sociable. But such numbers are giving experts concern that the depth of connectedness is superficial at best, and that we, as a society, are losing the art of true communication and relationship building. Too much time is dedicated to texting or tweeting or messaging, leaving little time to cultivate richer real-life relationships.
One psychologist wrote about his concern over social media relationships obstructing genuine bonding.
Larry Rosen stated in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal:
As a research psychologist, I have studied the impact of technology for 30 years among 50,000 children, teens and adults in the U.S. and 24 other countries.
In that time, three major game-changers have entered our world: portable computers, social communication and smartphones. The total effect has been to allow us to connect more with the people in our virtual world—but communicate less with those who are in our real world.
Our real and virtual worlds certainly overlap, as many of our virtual friends are also our real friends. But the time and effort we put into our virtual worlds limit the time to connect and especially to communicate on a deeper level in our real world. With smartphone in hand, we face a constant barrage of alerts, notifications, vibrations and beeps warning us that something seemingly important has happened and we must pay attention. We tap out brief missives and believe that we are being sociable, but as psychologist Sherry Turkle has so aptly said, we are only getting “sips” of connection, not real communication. ¹
If this is true about the state of human relationships due to social media, can we make any comparisons with relationship with God?
Do we take time to cultivate relationship with the living Creator? Sadly, many Christians in developed countries spend more time on Facebook than they do in the Bible and chat more on Instagram than converse with the God of the universe.
How do you develop relationship with God?
So many Christians wrongly assume that since they are Christians, they have a relationship with God and that is all there is to it. It is true we have relationship with the Lord through Jesus, but like any relationship a process of cultivation must begin for that relationship to grow. I know of no husband wanting a deeper relationship with his wife who thinks that the wedding day is all there is to it. Why then do we believe that making a commitment to Christ the day we were converted is all there is to intimacy with Christ? It isn’t!
Have we sunk so low that we think real relationship with God is defined by a prayer prayed and a decision made years ago to accept Jesus?
If you are to experience a vibrant relationship with the One who loves you most, you are going to have to spend time with Him. You should study Him as you would the features of your spouse’s face. Have you not cultivated friendship with someone outside of his or her profile on social media? How did you do so? Not without time and expense of energy. Relationships that are enduring build on the expenditure of self. Jesus did that on the cross. He spent Himself to make it possible for you to know Him intimately, not just intellectually. And He continues to spend Himself in loving care and caressing of your soul.
What have you spent to love Christ? And is the outlay still happening? Do you longingly look forward to time with God in prayer? Do you joyfully gaze on the attributes of the King as described in the Sacred Record? Or do you consider such an inappropriate management of your time?
Relationships are designed in the heart but forged in time. The soul’s affection for another will make its way into the open. We may not be able to see someone’s heart, but we can see what the heart treasures by what it pursues. God’s heart was manifested long ago with the words, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son . . .” His heart is still manifest, and it says the same, “And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” God is willing to come and meet with you. Are ready to show up and meet with Him?
For the rest of the article, as well as access to other articles and content about relationships, can be found in the September/October RTM Magazine.