Written by Peter Blanch
One of the strongest motivators is fear. Fear has great ability to affect behaviour. Fear of sharks will stop people swimming in the ocean, fear of plane crashes can stop people from ever getting on a plane. Advertising agencies understand fear and often use it to affect our purchasing behaviour. Cigarette packets and police campaigns on speeding, for example, use fear to persuade people not to smoke and not to speed.
One of the rising issues for young adults today is FOMO [fear of missing out]. FOMO refers to the apprehension that you are not “in-the-know” or out of touch with some social events, experiences, and interactions. People who grapple with FOMO might not know exactly what they are missing, but still hold a fear that others are having a much better time or having a much more rewarding experience on the spur of the moment.
As Christians, we need to be aware of just how powerful FOMO can be for us. With most of us living longer and looking at 60-80 plus years walking with Jesus – it’s a long time to be holy. And while we live out the christian life there is the constant temptation from the world, the flesh and the devil, working overtime to persuade you that ‘God’s way isn’t really the best way’.
Satan, in particular, wants us to feel that we are being ‘ripped off’. It has always been the character of his temptation to humans. In the garden of Eden, when the devil tempted Eve he said to her “”Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” He suggested to her that God was out to spoil her fun. That she was missing out and so should take take matters into her own hands and eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, rather than miss out.
All of us hate that feeling of missing out. We hate thinking that there is something out there that we could have but something or someone is standing in our way. But, the reality is that if Jesus is your LORD, then He will stand in the way. As a follower of Jesus there are a set of experiences that are off limits. Verses like 1 Corinthians 6:9-10: “Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” I might think there is fun to be had in getting drunk, or gain to be had in being greedy, or pleasure to be had in sexual immorality – but Jesus stands in the way.
And when tempted to engage in those activities [because of our FOMO], perhaps at the back of your mind there is God’s grace and knowing that there is nothing God can’t forgive. No matter what I do for a season, surely I can come back to him. He will forgive me, won’t he? He did promise! And so I can give into my FOMO and it will be OK. But God’s word to us at the start of that verse “don’t be deceived” deserves our full attention. It’s true you can come back to Jesus but the question is can you trust yourself to choose to come back after walking away? The nature of sin is that it entraps and blinds us. The ones who give themselves over to sin rarely come back. Today Satan says, “Do it, Jesus will forgive you” and tomorrow he says, “You are unforgivable.”
When we suffer from FOMO, it is worth reflecting on the life of Moses. It was said of Moses:
“He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.” Hebrews 11:25-26
Just consider what Moses gave up when he turned his back on being a Egyptian Prince. He gave up rank and human greatness, he gave up pleasures which could have been his in abundance and he gave up enormous riches. He turned his back on all the things that people fear missing out on. He deliberately walked away from them all and chose the company of a despised and suffering people. He chose disgrace and scorn from the Egyptians that he had grown up with – and the reason he did this was faith. Faith in God that he was not missing out at all, but that the all the treasures of Egypt were nothing compared with his heavenly reward. Moses lived over 3000 years ago and I don’t think any one of us would look at his life and say, “I bet he really regretted saying ‘no’ to the ‘fleeting pleasures of sin.” Time has a way of showing our temporary pleasures for what they are – fleeting and foolish frivolities. Moses was wise not to give into FOMO.
In your walk with God, how much do you struggle with FOMO? Are you struggling (or giving in) to temptation? Maybe it’s time to come clean with God and also share your issues with a fellow brother or sister in the Kingdom at WWEC. We will all suffer and fall prey to FOMO at different times and in different ways – but being honest and open with our struggles is the beginning of staying on track with Jesus, enabling us to live a life that looks forward to our heavenly reward without looking back in regret.