I grew up in the era of televangelists like Rex Humbard and Oral Roberts. They were the pioneers of what was then the only streaming screen – the TV. Today we live in the era of Instavangelists. They are evangelists on Instagram and TikTok. Our screens have changed, but we’re still drawn to a spiritual force and the wonder of God through the lens. Unbelievers watch too. Sometimes with disdain and sarcasm, but sometimes they watch with curious interest.
God ultimately wants us to know Him personally. He wants our heart to know His heart, which sometimes means going through pain and suffering to hear His voice within us. In our mentally cluttered media culture, it’s when we take the time to search, go through suffering, and ultimately are forced to turn off our screens that God’s voice finally cuts through. It’s why Satan – the deceiver keeps our screens and the noise on 24/7.
Christian media leaders and communicators have learned much about communication since the early days of televangelists. I actually believe there is more honesty in today’s Instavangelist culture as they choose to share not just the joy and goodness of God, but also the reality that we live in a broken, difficult world. I’ve seen many Christian leaders publicly share what a life lived fully alongside Jesus looks like; it is a life of service, forgiveness, compassionate love, and joy in the middle of suffering and uncertainty.
Life changed during the pandemic.
Young people who have been raised without knowledge of God or the spiritual world, became curious as they were suddenly confronted with incredible fear and untimely death in the world around them. Many who had been led to deny the existence of God and placed their faith in science or the government to solve their problems instead found them untrustworthy. Many who had never paused long enough to consider praying or reading the Bible stopped as their worldview was shaken and shattered. They began to ask if God was real. Was there a higher power, and possibly a deeper meaning to existence? Was there some truth to what those instavangelists were saying?
Social media is designed to tout a “me culture.”
As we begin a new year, can we, who are confident in our faith through God’s proven provision, become more effective instavangelists? What if we, who “know the truth and how the truth has sets us free” (John 8:32), began to use our social media accounts more strategically to tell others that it’s not about “me,” but about the God who breathes within me? What if we shared with them the reason why our life has purpose and meaning? What if our personal “television studios” proclaimed God’s ability to overcome disruption, suffering, devastation, and death, and that life wasn’t about the “here and now” of our imploding world, but in the world to come when King Jesus returns?
Depression and suicide rates are soaring today, and gender identity dysphoria is rampant. TikTok, culture’s latest life-sucking platform, can only be watched for a short time before what we post is gone. Yet the average global TikTok user spends 3.5 hours daily watching videos that are largely mindless, meaningless, and will vanish. Could this continual use of vanishing videos be a subtle message to users of their life? That it’s a vapor and here and gone before ever being seen and known? Is the constant need to check these vanishing stories keeping us from seeing what is eternal – the everlasting, all-seeing God?
Will God’s voice be heard before it goes away on TikTok or Instagram stories?
The reality is that our life on earth truly is a vapor; we aren’t here long. But it is definitely not meaningless. Our Creator God sees and knows us. Hagar, a woman in the Old Testament, names God El-Roi, the God who sees (Genesis 16:13). What if lovers of God become Instavangelists or TikTokvangelists and began sharing this revelation of an ever-present, eternal God? That He is real and He transformed their life? What if believers posted how God was with them during disasters, health or financial crises, through grieving, and times of endless uncertainties? What if they shared a peace that was unnatural, and a calm beyond their understanding during those times? That they knew the “Who” that held their hand and holds their future? What if the followers of Jesus posted of God’s love, mercy, forgiveness, and hope? What if they invited their followers to watch an online church service or posted how a scripture verse challenged their thinking? Like this verse, “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 23:8)? And… what would happen by chance, if in 2023, their scrolling eye stopped and instead of finding something silly and meaningless, they found freedom, truth, and peace everlasting?
What if… they found the Light of the World behind their screen?