16 Dec FOMO: A Biblical Purview
It is the last lecture for the day and everyone’s eyes are on the clock. Someone passed word around that the whole class was invited to their classmate’s birthday treat at the campus cafeteria. The crowd is getting excited and fidgety and as the bell rings everyone gushes down one path. Now if you had to be on time for the weekly Bible study, you would go the other way, walking by yourself. You wonder if you could maybe go to the café anyway, slowly sneak away and pop in a little late for the Bible study and no one would notice.
Our everyday life is a collection of choices and decisions we make in every passing moment- some easy, some hard, some made mindlessly, some thought through and some never attended to because we buried them. And it is in these moments of choice, fear of missing out plays in. FOMO, as the millennials and Gen Z call it, is an anxious feeling associated with finding activities in one’s own life uninteresting or uneventful. This feeling of inadequacy and apprehension stems from projecting one’s own life onto that of others, within the boundaries of how the said individual perceives others’ lives, say through social media or general social conversations where only the highlights are shared. While one cannot say how different one’s life would have been if they decided otherwise and walked a different path, fear of missing out is surely a limiting power on us in our everyday walk.
The very first instance of FOMO in the Bible is seen in the Garden of Eden. Our Sovereign God gave Adam and Eve freewill, and they knew very well what the right thing to do was. Eve’s fear of what the serpent said she was missing out on, pushed her into disobedience. She knew the truth- the truth that the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil will certainly bring death (Exodus 2:17). Her FOMO made her oblivious to the truth, the command, and the Word of God. Eve’s disobedience gives us an understanding that FOMO is a scheme of the devil, it comes from a desire to gratify the flesh and drives us away from knowing and obeying the will of God.
King Solomon in his wisdom and grandeur pursued much in the world. He wanted to have seen and known everything under the sun, came to possess and know much, only to realise it was vanity. In Ecclesiastes 2:10,11 he records, “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labour, and this was the reward for all my toil. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” FOMO entertains momentary gratification and is a love of the world and is of the world. Therefore, FOMO blinds the Kingdom of God and the things of heaven as evidenced in the life of Solomon. After all the Bible tells us in Colossians 3:2, “Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.” How important it is for us therefore to acknowledge FOMO as the power of the flesh and submit ourselves to the will of God?
The Bible instructs us to not fear. This is true of FOMO like every other worldly fear. In fact, Paul says to Timothy in I Timothy 2:7, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” Thus, for those of us who believe, it is important to understand that FOMO comes from the mortal flesh in which we will live in until death or the day of the Lord. But remember that “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15). We are to fear God alone. Therefore, a believer’s heart ought not to entertain feelings like FOMO.
In a world that glamourizes sin and disobedience, social media has surely become the enemy’s stronghold. FOMO begins in man’s futile mind and darkened heart (Romans 1:21) and constantly rebels against God and fails to acknowledge God’s glory. But let us take heart for Jesus has overcome this world! He renews our minds and shows us His good and perfect will (Romans 12:2). In the grace of God, our conflicted minds overcome FOMO when we lean on Him, desire His Kingdom above all else and walk in obedience. Paul writes to the Colossians in Colossians 10:3-5, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” This is the strength over our failing hearts and wicked minds the Lord has on us!
We are called to walk the narrow way. So even when everybody is doing it or when everyone thinks or acts a certain way,
let our walk be one that isheaded Christ-ward.
As beautiful as Sodom and Gomorrah looked to Lot, so sinful was the land and led him into destruction. Let us as Christians, who are called to walk by faith and not by sight, remember the sham that our lives are and that FOMO is a mirage. Be cautious not to use weird mental tactics to justify sin. The Truth is always counter-cultural and as believers we should be discerning. Don’t under-emphasis the practical stuff! Limit your time on social media, digital detox when needed. Let not the things of the world become our idols but let everything be made the best use of for the glory of the Kingdom.
Jannie Sanjana Stephen is an MS student at IIT Madras. She did her B.Tech. at Shiv Nadar University at Greater Noida and was part of Greater Noida EU committee. She continues to be part of UESI and enjoys writing poetry and discourses.