This year I have seen viable paid advertising on social media denied, people’s political posts causing their accounts to shut down, and medical doctors censored for controversial views. These are examples of control being taken away with the deeper implications affecting our freedom of speech. It’s all within the invisible yet powerful algorithms of what we get to see and hear from others – and what others get to see and hear from us.
By definition, algorithms are sets of rules followed by calculations. Simply put, algorithms determine what’s next; they are procedures, processes or instructions designed to perform specific tasks.
Thing is, most algorithms governing today’s world are man-made.
Algorithms determine the perceived relevance, safety, usefulness or desirability of whatever we see, hear or say (be that through a post, video, tweet or snap). Which posts show up – or don’t show up – on Facebook or Instagram is not arbitrary. What comes through – or doesn’t come through – our media news sources or headline banners is not random, either. People creating the algorithms for these control our communication.
While all this relates to social media, politics and pandemics right now, it will relate more and more to our professions of faith in Christ.
What’s a Christian to do as more and more control slips away? How are Christ-followers to respond as powers that we fundamentally disagree with exert more and more authority over us?
Do we slip into despair over our lack of control? Do we shut up and give up? Do we let discouragement or depression rule our lives? When one more vestige of control slips through our fingers, do we just stay at home, lock our doors, turn off the TV and prognosticate that it must be the end of the world?
Any of these approaches might be tempting as the pain of this life keeps bombarding us and especially as the grind of this year wears us down more and more. However, as Christ followers, none of these are the best approaches God wants His people to take.
Here’s the thing: though we do not get to choose all the algorithms that affect us, we do get to choose the algorithms by which we live. In this unparalleled election season of so many choices, our decision about the personal algorithms of our lives is the most important choice that we will make. As the rest of the world spins out of our control, Christ-followers absolutely have control over whether or not we’ll live by God’s algorithms for our lives.
God’s algorithms start with: CHOOSE HIM. In Joshua 24:14-15, Joshua laid out for the people of Israel their trajectory changing moment: “Choose you this day whom you will serve.” Israel had to decide as individuals, families and a nation who they were going to serve, and we must make this decision, too. No choice in life is greater, because choosing God lays the foundation for every other choice thereafter. When we choose to serve Him, we give Him control, putting Him in first place of our lives. Every other algorithm may be out of our control, but we are entirely in control of this algorithm to choose God.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Tosha Lamdin Williams