Greg Spires – Teaching Pastor
Years ago, a Harvard student wrote an article describing a fictional student’s weekend plans. The article imagined a student who was so concerned about what everyone else was doing that weekend that he made plans with all his friends in one-hour increments – late into the evening and even early morning. His concern was that his friends might be doing something fun, and he didn’t want to miss it. That is what FOMO stands for: Fear Of Missing Out.
Unfortunately for this fictional student, just before he was to head out and begin meeting up with his friends, another acquaintance called and invited him to a Red Sox game. But he couldn’t accept the offer to go to the baseball game, because he already had made commitments to dozens of others, so he experienced another related fear: FOBO – the Fear Of a Better Offer!
While this article was originally written as a tongue in cheek piece describing minor worries we all sometimes have, in the years since it was written, a lot has changed. With the pervasive nature of social media use, psychologists and therapists have identified FOMO and FOBO as phobias that can have very real (and often negative) impacts on the lives of individuals who suffer from them. One of the symptoms of these phobias is the impulsive and frequent checking of social media on mobile devices. When someone is worried that they will miss out on something; they check Facebook and Twitter constantly to make sure they know what everyone is up to.
The good news is that those who are in Christ do not have to ever suffer from FOMO. Paul reminds the believers in Philippi of this in Philippians 1:27-28 when he tells them he hopes to, “hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents.”
Their opponents wanted them afraid. Certainly, the enemies of the gospel would intimidate believers that their lives could be lost. However, that was only one worry. One of their strategies was to seek to convince believers that what they believed didn’t matter. The Roman empire was huge, wealthy, powerful and significant. What could a small, rag-tag, and unknown group of believers do that would matter at all? Christians, like all people, don’t want to miss out on being part of something important. The enemies wanted to show followers of Jesus that they were going to miss out on being part of something big, something that matters, something that will last.
Paul challenged his friends to stick together and strive “side by side for the faith of the gospel.” He wanted them to remind one another that in Christ, they weren’t missing out on anything. All they could ever want was found in Jesus. Nothing matters more than Jesus. Nothing is more significant than Jesus. Nothing is more important than Jesus.
This world is designed to convince us that the only way to matter – the only way to avoid missing out – is to chase the things of this world: Pleasure, power, importance, self-reliance, fame, and success. But the gospel tells us that none of these things are even remotely as important (or as satisfying) as knowing Christ through faith. We need to see with eyes of faith to avoid the trap of FOMO. In fact, to overcome, we need to work together: to strive side by side for the gospel. To remind one another, we aren’t missing out: we have Jesus!
I look forward to being with you this Sunday as we celebrate the work of God in Jesus Christ together! This Sunday, we will be seeking God through His Word in Philippians 1:27-30.
See you Sunday,