FOMO. It’s one of those acronyms I had to look up the first time. Maybe you did, too.
Of course, since texting became the primary way of communicating several years ago, I’ve had to look up a lot of them. There are probably still dozens I don't know.
FOMO - Fear of Missing Out
"Fear of not being included in something that others are experiencing."
FOMO is a fairly new term, but not a new emotion. The fact is that God designed people to live in community with others, so they have a desire to be part of a group. We all want to belong and feel approved of.
Now that we are hyper-connected to others and their activities through Social Media, this feeling of apprehension called FOMO is causing people to either overload their schedules and/or experience anxiety based on too much activity or a perceived lack of keeping up with the Joneses.
Some of our friends post intimate details of their lives – what gourmet thing they’re fixing for dinner, where they’re eating or vacationing, whom they are hanging out with, and events they are/or have attended. For those of us in the older set, it could be family-wide or grandkid-specific activities.
Even if we think we don’t care one whit about any of it, chances are there is something they have done or are getting ready to do that we wish we could get in on.
FOMO is so prevalent that companies are continuing to learn how to market based on this innate desire people have to be part of the group.
I find myself experiencing some of this as I watch the posts of churches or posts by my friends about things happening at their churches. I attend a small, loving church with a small choir, hymn-based song service, and biblically solid and engaging preaching. I am blessed to use my spiritual gifting and skills to the Lord’s glory.
But we’re not experiencing exponential growth. We don’t have extraordinary prayer services or a dynamic youth ministry. I’m pretty sure some people in our community have no idea we’re over here on one of the double-lettered state highways as you head out of town.
When I have the opportunity to attend church somewhere else that has a large choir, I experience FOMO. I grew up in a large youth choir that sang EVERY Sunday morning in the 8:15 service. I was in the high school choir and the smaller chorale. As an adult, I sang in the choir of a couple of large church choirs. I miss it, and I wonder if I will ever experience that again.
What SHOULD Cause My FOMO?
Today a flyer came in the mail from a large and growing church and it caused me to contemplate what I might be missing. As I did I realized that there is something only one thing that I should have a little bit of FOMO about. I wonder if the Lord was speaking to me.
John records Jesus as teaching about proper priorities and perspective in chapter 15 of His gospel when He calls us to abide (or remain). Having just taught on this passage, it occurred to me that I should be concerned about missing out on the blessings available to me when I abide in Him.
I pray that this quick overview will help you as it helped me today.
"Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” John 15:5, 8
Bringing God glory is what we were placed here on earth to do. So our greatest joy will come when we are pointing to God's greatness in everything we do.
Obeying His Commands
Obedience is the key. We can look throughout the Old and New Testaments and see the many promises to God's people for obedience.
Obedience is love and results in love
Verse 10 promises that if we keep His commands (obey), we will abide in His love. How marvelous! Can you imagine a better place to be than in God’s great love?
In verses 12 and 17, He points out one of His commands – that we love one another. He is speaking here to the disciples, so I take this to be a bit more specific than love your neighbor. The context tells us that here He is telling the Church to love each other – as He loved us.
In verse 14, He tells the disciples they are His friend if they do what He commands them. I want to be a friend of God, don’t you?!
I am thankful that obedience is not how we are saved but is a fruit of abiding and the natural result of salvation. Because of our new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17), a growing desire for obedience is the ordinary result of our abiding in Christ. And the vine supplies all we need for it.
By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:3 (NLT)
When we don’t abide, we miss out on answered prayer.
But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! John 15:7 (emphasis added)
In verse 16, He revisits this,
You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. John 15:16 (emphasis added)
If we pull all of Jesus’ teaching about prayer together, we will understand what is required to have answered prayer. Here we see several requirements:
- Abiding/remaining in Christ
- Allowing God’s word to remain in us
- Produce lasting fruit
- Ask in His name
If we remain in Him, we will bear lasting fruit. When we bear fruit and ask in His name, we will have access to anything we ask for. Is this a name-it/claim-it type of asking? No. These verses (and see more in John 16) imply our desire will be so in tune with Him that we will not ask amiss.
If You’re Not In Christ
If you’re not in Christ, then your FOMO should be caused by not being in right relationship with God. He is a holy God and demands righteousness. But since we couldn’t accomplish this on our own, He gave His only Son to die in our place – to pay the debt for our sin.
When you commit your life to Him, trusting Christ’s sacrifice and following Him as Lord, He makes you a branch in Him (the true Vine). You will begin abiding in Him, having access to the many benefits of walking with Christ daily and living with Him in Heaven through all eternity.
Would you like to know more? Click here to contact me and I will be in touch to talk with you about it!
My FOMO Adjustment
I love my church, and I am called to it. Recently we have seen glimmers regularly that God is at work among us. It may look different than how He is working in yours.
I am focusing more these days on abiding in Him, knowing Him through His word and surrendering to Him. I think of what Jesus told Martha about her sister, Mary,
There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42 (NLT)
When I am delighting in Christ, then I will be joyful in being part of what He has called me to rather than fearing I’m missing out on what He’s calling others to do.
If anything but a desire for a strong relationship with Jesus causes you to have FOMO, let me encourage you to get on your knees in prayer and be in the Word. Ask God for a greater desire for Him and less of a desire for the things this world thinks are important.
“…And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, Helen Howarth Lemuel