The digital algorithm has changed culture and people drastically over the last several years. If you’re unfamiliar, the algorithm is what social media apps like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. use to predict what you want to see on your social media feeds.
What that means is that everyone’s social media feed looks different – more on that in another post, though – based on what you hit the like button on, search on Google, and your demographics.
I was on Youtube the other day and decided to listen to a Francis Chan video. He was talking about how to determine if you’re following Christ or following the Enemy and his activity.
That video was 3:15 long and when that one ended the next video immediately began to play. It was a 7:22 video on how to find your calling from God.
At this point there’s nothing special about what I’ve told you! In fact, you might see the recommended video as helpful – and it was. What was concerning to me was the next recommended video.
The next recommendation was a video from a popular channel that is known for causing a lot of controversy in the Christian world. They’ll call their ministry a “discernment ministry” but, if they do have the gift of discerning, we can’t see or hear it over the distracting noises of the clanging cymbals in their hands. (1 Corinthians 13)
The video was of a man, standing on a portable stage in the middle of a park, answering questions from skeptics about the faith. Interesting, of course, but his method was incredibly unholy.
He sought to belittle those with genuine questions. He attempted to make them feel stupid for their beliefs and convince them, via argument, that Jesus is the only Way.
Important note: if you can “convince” someone via argument to follow Christ, they can be unconvinced by another compelling argument.
The algorithm Youtube implores was feeding me the video they thought I might want to see next. They know nothing about holiness & love. Their business is attention.
An Algorithm Led Spiritual Diet & Unholy Christians
It’s so important to recognize why this little 20 minute sequence is significant.
If most of my Spiritual feeding is going to come through what I see on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media feed (including the Bible App) then my Spiritual growth will be hindered.
I repeat, the algorithms are not concerned with our holiness, only our attention.
If I’m relying on a computer to feed me Spiritually I’m missing out on the raw working of the Holy Spirit as I’m reading systematically through the Word of God.
The Holy Spirit doesn’t work with an algorithm (that’s based off of your gender, socioeconomic class, race, relationship status, etc.). The Holy Spirit works with the God of the Universe who knows your name, knows the concerns of your heart, and knows exactly what you need to read/hear that will conform you into the image of Christ. (Romans 8:29)
Holiness, Peace, Unity, & Bitterness
“Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness — without it no one will see the Lord. Make sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and defiling many.”– Hebrews 12:14-15
If you’re a 40 year old white evangelical who is more conservative in your political views the algorithm will have you hating “Liberals” after one scroll through Facebook.
This works the other way around, too.
Tech giants have found that the way to keep people on their app is to promote extreme confirmation bias. You won’t stay on the app if you’re constantly seeing material that challenges your world view. The recommended pages, friends, etc. are all an attempt to confirm you’re already established bias.
Unfortunately, this is not the way holiness, peace, or unity is promoted. The verse above speaks to the reality that the very thing that stands in contrast to holiness, peace, and unity is bitterness.
With every scroll we stumble upon more and more content that alienates “those people” and the divide between them and our love grows wider and wider.
We’re hit with the double whammy of falling short of grace – hating our brother or sister and giving life to the root of bitterness in our hearts.
The scripture is clear. You will not see the Lord if one or both of these things are happening in your heart.
That means you will not grow in Christlike maturity, you will not display God’s love to people, and you will not become more familiar with God today than you were yesterday.
Save Yourself From This Corrupt Generation
The Church was birthed on the heels of the sermon at Pentecost. Peter stood up and began to preach the Word of God under the power of the Holy Spirit. He said these words:
“Be saved from this corrupt generation!”
He was speaking to the generation that crucified the Messiah, no doubt. But today the Word of God is speaking to us, the generation that continues to crucify the Messiah by hating our brother or sister and despising our own personal holiness.
You have an opportunity to put the algorithm down – to set it aside for a while. It will be the best thing for your growth with Christ. Get before God, ask Him what He wants you to hear. Ask Him what scripture to read, and read in context. Ask Him questions regarding what He tells you to read.
Do all the things you miss out on by being pushed to the next thing that will hold your attention the longest.