The fear of missing out, or FOMO, has become a familiar concept in modern culture to the point that the Oxford Online Dictionary recently added it to their list of new words for 2015. From advertising to social media, we are constantly bombarded by images and information. The result is that we are experiencing an epidemic of people who constantly feel as if they are missing out on something better. We are no longer just keeping up with the Joneses, but with their carefully curated, picture-perfect social media profiles.
Although the social media age has brought FOMO into the spotlight, it is far from being a new concept. Since Adam and Eve rejected God’s authority for the promise of “something better,” mankind has suffered from a deep-seated preference for anything we don’t have. We are constantly chasing after the things we know we are missing and those we only suspect we are missing. Tragically, we possess an innate sense of discontent that constantly lures us away from the blessings that God has given us toward the promises of the world.
It is rare to hear someone voice their fear of missing out on Bible study or worship or church fellowship. Rather, many people worry that devoting their lives to God will mean “missing out.” We are hesitant to give up our vices - from drinking to gossip to pornography because we are afraid that we might “miss out.” We keep one foot in the church and one foot in the world because we aren’t sure that the satisfaction that comes in Christ is really better than what the world has to offer.
It has become the philosophy of much of the modern church to condemn the world while frantically running alongside it. We are quick to point out hypocrisy in others, especially public figures, but we are blind to the consequences of our own “guilty pleasures.” We reason that our “pet sins” aren’t really harming anyone, and we convince ourselves that we are right with God while harboring secret addictions, infidelity, bitterness, and greed to name a few. Worst of all, we become so busy justifying ourselves that we fail to reach out to a lost and desperate world.
Like the church in Corinth, which Paul reprimanded for tolerating an incestuous relationship among its members (1 Corinthians 5, NIV), we use the guise of tolerance to justify sin within the church. We seek the best of both worlds, but we have failed to count the cost. When we indulge our flesh in the name of tolerance, it does not free us - it destroys us.
Ironically, our fear of missing out on the pleasures of sin leads us to miss out on something infinitely more valuable. The blessings we have in Christ far outweigh anything we might miss in this world, but our fear is often more powerful than our faith. If only we would trust that God is able and willing to fulfill his promises, we could say goodbye to FOMO for good. We must stop trying to make the gospel fit into the world and start inviting the world to experience the power of the gospel.
“So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” - 2 Thessalonians 2:15-17