Friday, January 6, 2017

#Struggles, by Craig Groeschel

Here's a bit of irony for you.  Craig Groeschel is pastor of, one of the most technologically innovative churches in the U.S.  They created the most popular Bible app for mobile devices.  They have services you can attend virtually as an avatar.  Groeschel's messages are broadcast to satellite churches around the country.  The irony: Groeschel's new book, #Struggles: Following Jesus in a Selfie-Centered World, is about resisting the control social media can have on your life, and seeking Jesus above all.

Far from being a condemnation of social media or mobile devices, #Struggles is about balance and perspective.  Groeschel writes, "Post, tweet, click, snap, text, chat, comment, and enjoy it all.  But do it all out of the overflow of your love for God and love for people.  Use technology, but don't let it overtake your life.  Enjoy the benefits of technology, but don't let it define you."

Some of Groeshel's big concerns are self-image, comparisons, and human interaction.  Facebook and similar platforms can breed unhealthy comparisons and terrible self-image issues, like the kid who spent hours each day trying to get a perfect selfie and committing suicide when he couldn't take one with which he was satisfied.  Closer to home, our social media feeds show our friends' and acquaintances' fabulous vacations, happy families, and perfect children, and we feel inadequate.  If we're not careful, we can fall into envy, "resenting God's goodness in other people's lives and ignoring God's goodness in your own life." 

We can also become detached from real relationships, or at least become convinced that our interactions on social media are substitutes for actual relationships.  Groeschel has some great quotes for this:
"We must focus on loving others more and truly interacting with them, rather than just Liking what they post." 
"Life is not about how many Likes you get.  It is all about how much love you show."
"Clicking doesn't change anything.  Caring is not Liking a post; it's loving a person."
"Everything you say should be true, but not everything that's true should be said."
 Groeschel insights are on target, and says all the right things about valuing relationships, about letting our online interactions be governed by the same rules of civility we use in face-to-face interactions, and about not allowing our electronics to overtake our lives.  Many readers will read with detachment, as his examples frequently lean toward extreme levels of addiction.  But anyone who uses social media can relate to the overall message.  I got the feeling that Groeschel was writing to himself more than anyone else.  Based on the stories he tells, it seems he is frequently drawn deep into the vortex of domination by electronics.  I appreciated his honesty, and value his insights.  Now put down your device and spend some time with Jesus and the people you love.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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