“But seek first his kingdom…”
Matthew 6:33 (NIV)
I recently caught a BBC news report which stated that in April 2021 house prices had climbed significantly; a senior mortgage broker was quoted as declaring ‘FOMO’ as a major contributory factor. He opined that FOMO fuelled a fear among buyers to hurry up and buy before prices spiral further. FOMO is the abbreviation for ‘fear of missing out’.
The term can now be found in both Oxford and Cambridge dictionaries. FOMO was identified around 1996 as a social anxiety: a belief that others might be having fun, by the person not present with them. It was popularised from a 2004 Social Theory paper by Patrick McGinnis at Harvard Business School.(1) FOBO (fear of a better option) and even FODA (fear of doing anything!) were later identified variations.(2)
Christians know that anxiety is as old as humanity but it is soothing to understand we can rely on the robust wisdom of the ages whilst keeping in mind that our world is constantly changing and updating.
An Old Testament example has King Solomon, the writer inspired by God, telling us that an anxious heart is weighed down, but a kind word makes it glad (Proverbs 12:25). The New Testament tells us not to worry about tomorrow, as tomorrow will take care of itself, and each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34).
The Bible has lots of advice to give in regards to anxiety. I might particularly draw an anxious person to Matthew 6, verses 19 through 34 (Solomon is also referenced here), which contains many insights and advice on anxiety and the transient cares of our world.
Matthew 6 was originally written after the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, in Greek. The original Greek-speaking peoples would not have known God, but the inspired use of the Greek language in the New Testament helped the inclusion of non-Jewish peoples in this new community of faith – helping overcome a ‘fear of missing out’! The things that Matthew writes about are the things Jesus spoke of: they are Jesus’s sayings, which we can always rely on. Jesus – the Jesus who reveals God perfectly (Hebrews 1:3) – understands your human anxiety.
It is human to experience anxiety. With a right perspective on Jesus and mindful of the coming kingdom however, ‘fear of missing out’ can be displaced by ‘fulfilment and overflowing mindful optimism’. FOMO!
1 McGinnis, Patrick J. Social Theory at HBS: McGinnis’ Two FO’s (Harvard Business School, May10, 2004).
2 McGinnis, Patrick J. How to dump FOMO in 2018 (Blog article).
Heavenly Father, may we thank you for the glorious life of Your Son and His reflection of You, and His sacrifice for our sakes. In Jesus’ name, Amen
Study by Andrew Montgomery
About the writer:
Andrew Montgomery is a Deacon in the Edinburgh congregation of Grace Communion International.
Gilmerton New Church
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