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The Storm on Your Phone: learning to fix our eyes on Jesus in the age of social media.

Matthew‬ ‭14:25‭-‬31‬ ‭NIV‬- “[25] Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. [26] When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. [27] But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” [28] “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” [29] “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. [30] But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” [31] Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

During one of the most climactic moments of Jesus' ministry, the Apostle Peter demonstrated a dazzling expression of faith and power. Moments after stepping on to the water, his courageous efforts fizzled in defeat. He found himself in a dangerous duel with the depths of the sea. What was it that caused this water walking disciple to arrive at the brink of becoming fish food? It was his loss of focus and hindered faith. 

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink… (verse 30)

At some point during Peter’s gravity defying pursuit, his gaze became distracted by the storm. It lured him into a place of fear, doubt, and panic. Just moments before, he was looking into the eyes of Jesus, absorbing the anointing that ebbed and flowed from Him without measure (John 3:34). A split-second decision to move his eyes away short-circuited Peter from his source of power, the Messiah. His moment of doublemindedness made him vulnerable to the wind and waves of the storm (James 1:6-8), and this can happen to us too, if we also allow ourselves to become distracted.

The New Testament uses the Greek word "
anemos" for “violent wind” on a variety of occasions to depict scenarios in which fear and doubt try to creep into our lives. For example, this same word is used in Mark 4:39 where Jesus rebuked the winds and they stopped. Not only this but the Bible uses the concept of air, sky, firmament, vault, and so forth as a metaphorical picture of the demonic realm from which Satan and His fallen angels operate (Genesis 1:8, Ephesians 2:2).

2 Corinthians 12:2- “"I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows."

Here we find the Scriptures revealing a very curious fact, that there is something called the "third heaven." The third heaven being where the throne of God is located. The passage goes on to refer to the third heaven as "Paradise" where the "things heard were too sacred for words." So if there is a third heaven, then it logically follows that there's a second heaven, and a first heaven. So where is the second heaven located and what does it contain?

Ephesians 2:2 - "in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient."

The second heaven is beneath God's throne and is also where the demonic realm is located, where the "ruler of the kingdom of the air (Satan)" operates from. In Genesis 1:8 when God creates something called the "firmament" which is often translated to mean "sky" He does not say "it was good" as He did with the other aspects of His Creation rather He says "it was so." I believe this is because God knew that the realm (firmament) located between the third heaven and the first heaven (the earth realm) would eventually be occupied by Satan and his fallen angels. Therefore, He did not say it was good because it was destined to be occupied by evil.

Deuteronomy 11:17 (ESV): "And the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and he will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain, and the land will yield no fruit, and you will perish quickly off the good land that the Lord is giving you."

The first heaven, often referred to in the plural as seen above, is understood as the sky of our physical world. It corresponds to the natural realm that we can see with our eyes and interact with using our senses. God's desire is for those of us who live in the natural world (the first heaven) to connect with Our Father who is enthroned at the highest place of the spiritual world (the third heaven). In order to do this successfully we have to understand that demonic wind will often blow from the second heaven to capture our attention away from the things of God!

Many Christians have been wrongly taught that Satan and his demons live in hell. But the Bible does not teach this. The Bible teaches that hell (the lake of fire) is Satan’s final destination but for now he roams about the earth as the ruler of the kingdom of the air to cause havoc and destruction (1 Peter 5:8). Therefore we must be prepared to take steps that will foster a deeper focus upon Jesus when the devil blows his wind of distraction and fear into our lives!

Romans 12:2 (ESV): "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."

The modern world is highly integrated and expressed within the realm of social media. The drama, the chaos, the controversy, the lies, the chatter of this age is all ready to be unleashed into the realm of our sight with one click of an app icon. The storm on our phone is ready to rage at any second, to capture us away from Jesus and sink us into the depths of despair. Many Christians could be water walking disciples by now if it wasn’t for the storm on their phone that they have their eyes continually fixed upon as they sink away from the one who died for them.

Social media addiction has been scientifically linked to negative mental health outcomes, including increased stress, anxiety, depression, and feelings of loneliness. And this dangerous addiction is running rampant in the church causing disciples who are called to walk on water to instead go swimming with demons. Every time we click an app icon the potential to “see the wind” and begin to spiritually suffocate is right before our eyes.

1 Corinthians 6:12 (ESV): "‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything."

Here the Apostle Paul teaches that even though we have liberty to enjoy things in life, we must be careful to not be enslaved by them. It’s not a problem for us to own something and enjoy it, but it is a problem when something owns us! Social media addiction is a form of mental slavery from which God wants to be free. He wants to reach out as we are sinking and restore us to a posture of faith and obedience. He wants to redirect our eyes back to His.

Hebrews 12:2 (NIV): "fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

As believers we have the power of the Holy Spirit living inside us to help us with every challenge. God wants to empower His people afresh to fix their eyes upon His Son. He wants to increase our hunger for the Word of God and prayer. He wants to give us wisdom in fasting from or limiting our time on social media so that we can be more healthy. Perhaps He is calling you to delete some apps that are only feeding your flesh and not your spirit.

Fasting from things that have the capacity to enslave us is a very practical way of inviting Jesus into areas of concern. It allows the Holy Spirit to take the driver seat in our life and fill us with His life and peace. Many of the negative emotions that believers are experiencing in the modern world are connected with an over-indulgence into the volatile world of social media. It’s time for the people of God to confront this issue head on with a Bible in their sight and a phone in their pocket, In Jesus’ name!

Written by: Kyle Bailey, D.Min


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