Loved More Than Liked by Tony Brackemyre

Tony Brackemyre   -  

Right now, at this very moment, you are using a screen. You are reading these words on some type of device, whether it is a computer, a tablet or a smart phone. These screens and devices have changed how we work, how we are entertained and how we interact.

A January 2021, study reported that there are over 275 million smart phone users in the United States. Smart phone sales in 2019 were valued at over $77 billion dollars, with a projection of $79 billion in 2020.

Another study tells us that over half of the children in the United States (53%) own a smartphone by the age of 11, while 84% of teenagers have their own phones.

The pandemic has accelerated our use of screens. All our school-aged students experienced remote learning on some level over the past year. Words like Zoom and Google Meet became a regular part of our vocabulary.

Many more adults are working from home. While a large number of employees experienced a season of working at home, WFH (working from home) has become the new norm for a good percentage of the workforce. WFH even has its own entry in the Urban Dictionary. According to a February 2021 study, 25% to 30% of the workforce will be working remotely from homy by the end of 2021.

Our screens and devices have brought about a lot of changes, many of them are good. I use my smart phone every day and love the ease of communication it provides. I appreciate the fact that my wife and I can communicate with our four adult children and spouses who live in three different states.

Now that we are in March Madness, I really like that I will be able to watch games on the computer or my phone without subjecting the non-basketball fans in our home to the madness of March. When I do miss a game, I can get the score anytime I want. That is a beautiful thing (can I get a Woo-Hoo from all the sports fans out there?)!

The increase of the use of devices and screens has not come without some negative consequences. A few weeks ago, our IMPACT Small Groups spent some time talking about devices and how they influence us. I thought this information was good for all of us to hear.

Consider these numbers taken from a survey of teens and parents:

59% of parents say their kids spend too much time on phones
45% of parents say that they (the parents) are addicted to their mobile devices
50% of teenagers feel they (the teens) are addicted to phones
39% of teenagers wish their parents would get off their devices

So, it is not just teenagers that struggle with time spent of devices. It grabs a hold of parents, too. Adults and students alike admit the need to monitor the time spent on devices.

Why do we gravitate to our screens? What is the pull they have on us? One of our high school students said it this way, “It’s fun. We can be instantly entertained. When I need a good laugh, I know I can get one.”

There is enjoyment as we spend time on screens. We can find a quick answer for the question we have; we can get a laugh as we watch a funny video; we can catch the highlights of our favorite sports team; we can see what some of the celebrities we follow are up to; we can have a video conversation with family that live miles away and the list goes on and on.

Time on our devices can make us feel good about ourselves, too. You have probably had that moment where you posted a picture of your kids or your family or a place you visited or a great meal you had and then people reacted to it. They hit the like button. You got several thumbs up. People commented about how good you look or how cute your kids or grandkids are or how they loved where you went or what you ate.

We like the feedback. We like the “likes” (or we heart the “hearts”).

Here is how insidious this is. Even as I write this, I know it will be on our church website and a link will be on Facebook. In the back of my mind, I think things like, “Will anyone like what I wrote?” “Will anyone share it?” “I wonder how much traffic this post will produce?” Isn’t that crazy? That is the dark side to our presence on social media.

While our screens are entertaining and the feedback we get makes us feel good, consider these numbers:

Happiness and mental health are highest at a half-hour to two hours of extracurricular digital media use a day; well-being then steadily decreases. . . twice as many heavy users of electronic devices are unhappy, depressed & distressed as light users.
From 2009 to 2017 rates of teen depression among 14–17-year-olds jumped more than 60% (remembering that the iPhone was released in 2007 and the first Android in 2008)

The more time we spend our devices, the less happy we feel. The more we search for those “likes” and “hearts,” the less return we get.

As we discussed these numbers with our students, we came to the conclusion that while we like to be liked, we need to remember that we are loved.

Screens have their place and devices are helpful, but only our Creator can tell us what is true about us.

This week meditate on these verses to remind yourself that you are Loved more than you are Liked.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore,honor God with your bodies.  (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

We need to be reminded of our value, our worth. If we are in relationship with Jesus, we have been paid for, we have been bought. Jesus went to the cross as the ultimate expression of God’s love for us.

Here is a cool thought. In the Greek (the original language of the New Testament) the word for price in verse 20 means this – valuing by which the price is fixed or of the price paid or received for a person.

Your value is measured by the price paid for you. Jesus gave His life for us. That is how much we are valued by our heavenly Father. You and I were bought at a price.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (1 John 3:1)

Out of all the things God could have called us, He calls us His children. He invites us and makes the way for us to be a part of His family.

We don’t need to chase “likes.” We need to remember we are loved.

As Jean Twenge PhD, author and Professor of Psychologysaid, “Use your smart phone (and other devices) for all the cool stuff they can do, for an hour or two a day, then go live your life.”

Use your devices for all the great things they do, then allow God to remind you of how much you are loved!