Trending Faith by Ryne Swann

When I open Twitter, one of my favorite things to do is to see what is trending. It is a fascinating thing to see this snapshot that summarizes the top 20 things being talked about most on Twitter in America. Sometimes they are inspiring, seeing how people want to help and love other people. Sometimes they are fueled by hate, but no matter what the heart behind them, they are constantly changing. And most of the things that are trending now, people will have completely forgotten a week from now. I see this happening quite a bit in the way that we approach our relationship with Jesus.

We want to learn what He has for us, but since there is always new information coming to us from so many sources, we focus for a very short amount of time on one thing, then move immediately to something else. Sometimes we don’t even have time to process what we are putting in our brains before we regurgitate it back out into the universe. And unfortunately, though there are things that we learn that are fueled by love, a lot of what we let influence our faith trends is fueled by hate and fear.

Another thing about internet trends is that they are usually brought to us from an outside source. Someone who has a following says or does something, and because a pseudo famous person said or did it, we want to duplicate that. So it is with many of our grand statements of faith. It’s not something that we came up with on our own, but rather something that we are sharing because someone else made a graphic that already has it written down, or someone we like said or did this thing.

Too often we take what is being said or done by someone, and because we like them or we like what they are saying, we share it not even taking time to consider its beauty or harm. There is a lot of harmful theology that floats around Facebook and Twitter, so we definitely need to take what we see and see how it lines up with what scripture has to say. But there are a lot of amazingly profound things that we share, just because they are trending, or just because a page we follow posted them first. We don’t really take the time to think about the remarkable thing that we have come across; we just hit share. After that, we forget about it completely.

There is some really fascinating science out there on the way our brain remembers certain things. When our brain encounters a negative and hateful thought or image, that stick in our brain like Velcro. But when we encounter a positive and love-filled thought, in order for our brain to really take it in, it needs to focus on it for at least 15 seconds. I certainly can’t explain why this happens, but it does seem to ring true in things that I encounter on a daily basis. It’s so easy to forget the positive things because I don’t let them sink into my brain properly. I just see something I like and tap a screen to indicate that I do in fact like that. Then I forget all about it.

There are many things that have been popular in the past few years that were huge for a couple of weeks, but then people forgot about them. The Harlem Shake, planking, ice bucket challenge, running man challenge and so many others had their time in the spotlight, and are now just a faint memory even though there is evidence of millions of people tweeting about them. Let’s not make our faith like that. Let’s make it so that the positive things that we are learning from scripture and from fellow believers aren’t just something we talk about for a minute and then immediately forget about.

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