With the rapid growth of the Internet and social media, discipleship can easily be forgotten. We are more global and connected than ever before. Though this can be an incredibly good thing as far as how easily and quickly we can extend encouragement, I believe it can pose a dangerous threat to discipleship.
First, before we go any further lets define discipleship.
For the sake of this article we will gather our definition from Mark 3:13-15:
“And He went up to the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. And He appointed the twelve, that they might be with Him, and that He might send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out demons.”
So a disciple to Jesus was someone who was physically with Him. In the New Testament a disciple was someone who learned from and followed someone else. Jesus was not the only one in the Scriptures who had disciples, John the Baptist had disciples as well. All of that to say, the discipleship I am talking about is one-on-one, face to face and one person learning from another person. One person intentionally, investing into another person, teaching them to walk in the ways of the Lord.
Could Social Media Destroy Discipleship?
Now that we all are thinking of discipleship in the same way, how could Internet and social media threaten that?
Well, to start I think we should all ask ourselves this question:
How many people have I discipled?
I mean really discipled. Not just witnessed to or sat down once or twice with, I mean someone you invested in from day one. Someone you walked through life with, someone you prayed with and cried with. I’ll go first, I can probably count all of them one one hand.
The truth is, social media can give us a cheap way out. Social media is a quick way to share good, encouraging thoughts to tons of people and receive quick affirmation and approval via “like”, “favorite” and “retweet.”
The Internet becomes dangerous when it keeps us from deeply investing in real one-on-one relationships. God is an extremely relational God. He is one God in three persons. He is literally made up of relationship. We are created in His image. We are wired to be relational, to encourage, be with, and love other people. Discipleship is God’s joy and passion for His people. Discipleship is God’s plan for redemption.
My Fear for this Generation
My fear for this generation is that we will get so connected to our devices that we lose connection with real people and in turn forget discipleship. I heard a pastor once say that “every Christian should always be receiving discipleship as well as giving discipleship.” Maybe we need to keep ourselves in check.
Think about the last words recorded from Jesus before He ascended into heaven, from Matthew 28:19:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”
Don’t be afraid to disconnect in order to connect. Don’t let your cyber life destroy your discipleship.