A few years ago when I got on Facebook, there was no such thing as a “like” button (can you imagine it?). You just posted status updates, photos, or links to articles, and the only way you knew whether people approved was if they commented on it. Then the like button came along at some point and changed everything. Now there was an instant measure of success for every insecure human being on Facebook.
I have a love/hate relationship with the like button. I love it because, as a writer, it gives me a way to gauge the degree to which people are responding to my work. I hate it because I find myself caring about it too much, and I’m tempted to craft my Facebook content so that it will bait people into showing their approval of me. Gross.
Sometimes, I’m not only tempted to see how many people have liked my content, but who exactly has liked it. And lately, when I find myself looking at who liked a status update or photo, I’ve been paying attention to the people whose likes mean more to me, those folks whose likes I see and it makes my brain light up like a flash in a greasy old pan.
I think it’s important to know who those people are for me because if those people have the power to validate me with the touch of a button, imagine what they can do with a compliment or a request to spend time with me – even worse, imagine what they can do with a criticism, a cold shoulder, or some other form of rejection.
Giving people that kind of power makes us vulnerable to being used, becoming needy, and surrendering our dignity to people who probably don’t even care how much we value their opinions; and if they did know, they would be totally creeped out. More importantly, giving people that kind of power sets us up to be idolators of other human beings, who in their brokenness, are incapable of loving us the way we’re begging for with each selfie, status update, and flattering comment.
Jesus is the One whose approval you and I really need, and the good thing is that His approval is based upon the fact that He has unconditionally “made us accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). He’s the One who has “called [us] friends” (John 15:15) and wants to interact with us at a depth that Facebook likes, “shares,” and affirming comments can never afford.
So the next time you’re tempted to scroll through Facebook likes and scrounge around for the approval of your favorite human idols, stop yourself, imagine the profile picture of a humble-looking Jewish carpenter named Jesus, and sigh of breath of relief.
You are not only liked, you are loved.