What If King David Had Instagram?
I often wonder what it would be like to rip someone from the pages of history and set them right bang in the middle of our 21st century… like what would it be like if King David had Instagram?
Social media has carved a unique cultural landscape in our day to day life unlike any other point in history, bringing along unique challenges and joys.
It can be easy to criticise the church and its leaders for buying into the ‘fabricated life conundrum’ social media has poised… where perfection and success are portrayed while hardship or failings are edited out.
But as Christians – if we’re not careful – the way we read the bible has the same potential to hurt us in this way.
I’d love to share a couple of thoughts about this and show why King David’s Instagram feed is so important for us today.
Scroll down to read on.
Is social media a fair portrayal of reality?
The majority of us spend more time observing/consuming on social media platforms rather than creating content on them.
We tend to save our Instagram posts for the ‘big moments’ in our lives such as engagements, graduations, birthdays, epic holidays etc.
Whether conscious of this or not, the reality is we are spending more and more time creating a version of our lives that neglects the full picture.
Regardless of how ‘full’ a life is, social media feeds often fail to express the slow, mundane, often difficult realities of day to day life.
Even if you’re a world-travelling superstar adventurer, a large majority of your time is spent waiting for planes, trains and ubers in between each ‘epic post.’
However, Instagram stories have unlocked the potential to change this dynamic.
The invention of Instagram stories
The most genius part of the Instagram story is the fact that they only last for 24 hours.
Unlike Instagram posts, our IG stories aren’t recorded in our profile library unless we intentionally choose to highlight them.
Finally, a space has emerged to ‘cover’ the more mundane reality of day to day life (that isn’t Twitter.)
It has given the world travelling influencer a space to voice and reveal to their audience the boredom that they too face in an airport, the frustration they feel when their flight is delayed and how wrecked they look after an international flight.
This is good because it’s a step closer to reality and breaking down the barriers between the digital and true self.
Now, of course, Insta-stories can still be used to fabricate a false image, but in my experience, they tend to be a little step closer to reality… and any step – no matter how small – for us at this point is great.
Where does King David come into this?
My wife Jaci and I were at a bible study here in Belfast and this question came up:
How has the bible been an advantage to you in your life?
For me, it was a straightforward answer
I find that beyond encouraging because I am keenly aware of my own shortcomings…
Perhaps you are the same.
For years the bible actually discouraged me because my life wasn’t living up to the lives of the biblical characters portrayed in its pages.
Many times I’ve compared my day to day with the likes of Gideon, Elijah and Moses or compare my church to the early church of Acts and get confused/frustrated at the disparity between them.
If we’re not careful we can even fall into reading the ‘Instagram feed’ of Jesus, focusing on the noteworthy snapshots of his ministry while neglecting the mundane aspects of his life that are not featured in as much detail.
The 30 years before his ministry
Decades of working with his Dad as a carpenter
Isolated moments of prayer
Dare I even say ‘boredom’ in his childhood growing up in a ‘deadbeat town’ where nothing happens?
(“Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” – John 1:46)
In fact, in Luke 24 we see that the people in his boyhood home reject Jesus because he was ‘just the son of a carpenter.’
But it’s not just Jesus
Elijah and Elisha have got me thinking about this too.
The bible documents that Elijah performed 16 miracles and Elisha performed 32 (#doubleportion.)
We have no way of knowing if they did other miraculous stuff, but those were the one’s noteworthy enough to be recorded in the pages of history.
When I think about these two legendary men of God, I think of them performing miracles every day and calling down fire from heaven just to cook their breakfast.
But really this just wasn’t the case.
I’ve written before about how even the great Elijah faced depression, suicidal thoughts and doubt despite all the insane stuff he did with his time on earth.
Like Jesus, behind these two prophets lie childhoods, downtime and seasons where frankly not much is happening.
But I always seem to neglect that.
Something I wish someone told me about the bible
When we read the bible, we are often reading through a highlight/lowlight reel.
An Instagram feed where only the major significant moments in life are documented.
Can you imagine if the backstory of the shepherds who went to visit Jesus at his birth was documented?
We would be shifting through volumes and volumes of these guys taking care of sheep for decades.
This would make the bible extremely inaccessible for non-theologians like us.
The Gospel of John ends with this intriguing verse:
“Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.” John 21:25
It’s an amazing truth and a radical concept to think about, but frankly, this information overload would overwhelm us.
Just look at how much debate/study has gone into what we already have in our bible.
Any more and the average person like you and I couldn’t come near the thing.
3. It’s enough
The gospels alone give us all we need to live a full life in Christ and ultimately that’s what it’s all about.
I know what you’re thinking
You may find these arguments springing to your mind right now:
“But a life with Christ should be a daily adventure!”
“Jesus said that we would do even greater things!”
“Our church should be like the early church!”
You see these things are true…
But the problem is we live in an over-hyped society that is bent towards instant gratification and many of our churches are not exempt from this.
Jesus, Paul and Joseph didn’t start their ministry until they were around 30 years old.
Heck, Moses was 80 when he heard God speak to him at the burning bush.
Why then have I grown up through youth groups thinking that my ministry is going to end by the time I’m 30?
In all areas of life, typically the most influential thing that stops us from pursuing a venture – whether it’s a spiritual quest or an ambition to lose weight – is not seeing results and comparing ourselves to other people.
When a Christian is faced with the highlight reel of men and women of faith (both in the bible and on the social media pages of current church leaders) the natural response is to feel that they are missing the mark.
This is why King David’s Instagram account is so important
King David has the most airtime in the bible… he posts the most frequently compared to anyone else.
Plus he lived a dynamic life: We read him as a shepherd boy, the runt of the litter, a hero, a coward, a man of god and a murderer.
But what is really incredible about Dave is the Psalms.
It is here that we see the private journal of David broadcasted out to the universe.
Here we see joy, hurt, passion, shame – we see authenticity, ‘the struggle,’ the deep dark night of the soul and the childlike giddiness behind some of the greatest events in biblical history.
We must thank God for the Psalms because they reveal the vulnerable, struggling humanity behind the greatest hero in bible besides Christ himself.
What we read in the Psalms Of Time
In the Psalms, we are given a great privilege to have access to the private thoughts of a flawed 3-dimensional man rather than simply a character in a story told by a prophet.
It’s the equivalent of a world leader publishing their diary entries on a blog for all of us to read.
We would see the emotion, wrestling and humanity behind some of the greatest events in modern history… things that often separate us from ‘the greats’ because we rarely get to peek behind the curtain.
King David’s Instagram stories show me that it’s ok to worry.
That it’s ok to struggle.
That confusion, pain, sadness and joy are all part of the normal fabric of our everyday lives.
But most importantly…
They encourage me that if God can use a man like David he can use a man like me.
They remind me that the people behind extraordinary events in history sometimes aren’t even aware they’re part of it.
They encourage me to be faithful in the small daily things of life… to tend my sheep until God calls me to slay a giant.
But most of all, they concrete a thought we’ve known all along but are too afraid to grasp:
That even though we aren’t perfect, God still invites us to take part.
Thanks for reading.
– Matthew Thompson