Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Google+…. everywhere you look, there is social media…and we…Christians….are some of it’s most avid (or even rabid) users.
The blending Social media and Christianity in our culture provokes a strange and diverse reaction from those within the faith. There are many who see Social media+Christianity as a hellish, worldly combo…just the next step of a march toward receiving the “Mark of the Beast” (other steps including, but not limited to, – drums in a sanctuary, reading The NIV, enjoying life, so on). Many others see Social Media in an opposite light…the next step in fulfilling the Great Commission that Jesus gave us to reach the world with His Gospel. I mean seriously, has there ever been a time in history where we’ve had a tool that enables us to share the Gospel quicker and with more people in more places by simply clicking “send”?
Somewhere between those two opinions on Social media is the road that I really believe most of us travel. I’m convinced that most Christian Social Media users view it as neither good or bad, neither a blessing or apostasy….it’s just there. They can share photos of grandkids, reunite with High School chums, keep up with lives….it’s enjoyable, and it’s just, well, there.
No matter how you view Social Media, it’s a big deal in our culture (and growing) and we’d be wise to consider a few Upsides and Downsides before immersing ourselves in it (or pressing “send”)
Take Facebook for example. There are some really awesome and really detrimental things for us to consider
Upside- An unlimited number of people can see my life as I update my thoughts, opinions, activities and yes, even my location!
Downside – An unlimited number of people can see my life as I update my thoughts, opinions, activities and yes, even my location
*No, you didn’t misread that and it’s not a typo. While the world can get a glimpse of the Joy you have in Christ, the change that’s been wrought in your heart and mind, the pursuit of Christ you’re on and the places He is sending you….they can also see a pessimistic and joyless spirit, spiritual immaturity and disobediance…all depending on what you post.
Upside – You can BE Like Jesus on Facebook
Downside – You can “Like” Jesus On Facebook
Disclaimer-I may sound a little cranky here but this one irritates me to no end.
While Social media offers us an unprecedented opportunity to minister to others in ways that I believe, honor Christ and bless His body it also gives opportunity for absolute foolishness such as “Click LIKE if you love Jesus…and if you don’t just scroll on…. but remember Jesus is watching…and He’ll deny you if you don’t click like and share and your puppy will die tomorrow at 6:41 pm”.
Upside – Facebook provides an avenue for us to share our hearts
Downside – Facebook provides an avenue for us to share our hearts
*Whether this is a upside/downside depends upon the condition of our hearts. Our lives are up and down because life tends to be up and down. Peaks and Valleys. When tough times hit and we are dragging the valley floor, our post tend to follow suit. In the same manner, in those moments of clear vision, joy, purity…those mountaintop moments, well, our post are on the mountain with us. If you are like me and have people who follow your FB post who do not know Jesus, this is really confusing.
“OK, yesterday JimBob was posting a rant in which he was washing his hands of his (now former) friend that let him down and today he’s quoting Scripture about showing grace and patience with one another…Yesterday he posted that cute picture of kittens with the Scripture verse imbedded and today shared a link from a political hate group….I don’t get it”
Look, I’m not saying that being “real” is a bad thing. We’re emotional beings and Christians, like anyone else are prone to good and bad days as well as thoughts and opinions but we must be very discerning (and consistent) as to what we post…the world is watching.
Upside – We can connect with People With the Click Of A Mouse
Downside – We can connect with People With the Click of A Mouse
Facebook can assist in the building of community but cannot replace you know, actual community. One of the saddest realities of the cyber world that we live in is that things like Social Media that were designed as tools to connect us have in many cases actually driven us farther apart. Facebook can never replicate the beauty and benefit of face to face conversation. Social Media can add a lot to a relationship but it can’t replace actually living life together. One can’t really experience relationship from behind a computer screen.
Here Are A few Tips On Using Facebook Wisely
*Think Before you Click “Send” – seriously. Read then re-read your status update. Ask yourself things like, “What does this say about me?”, “What image does this portray of the Christ in me?”, “What message will I be sending bt clicking send?”
To be honest – this progression of questions has led me to delete more of my updates before pressing send than I’d like to admit but I’m grateful that I have.
*Research Before You Like – I’ve been shocked (and a little saddened) by things that have come up on my Newsfeed that many of my Christian friends have “liked”. I’m gonna give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they didn’t read the article but thought the title was cool and clicked share on the link. Tidbit of advice, never click share on an article, feed, picture, so on that you havent actually investigated personally.
*Understand The Finality – once you post it, the damage is done. You can re-think things and delete later but when you press send it’s not only sent to your newsfeed but send to the hearts and minds of everyone who sees it. You can erase it from your page but not from their hearts.
*No One Has Ever Won A Fight On Facebook – we can go a lot of places with this but lets take politics (by the way, anybody other than me ready for this election to be over? Sheesh. The attack ads are troubling but nothing is more heart wrenching than the fact that elections tend to bring our the worst in so many people I care about). To each his own, but I don’t argue politics online. Sure, I have my opinions (and they are strong) but I’ve yet to win one person to Christ by arguing politics with those who feel differently than I on Facebook. I have alienated people with political charged zingers and back and forths with those on the other side of the fence. Since then, I try not to debate politics on FB. Just yesterday a friend posted a link to a picture from the Facebook page called “I Hate Obama“. Clever little pic and I actually agreed with the quote it included but REALLY? Friend, if you HATE anyone, sitting President or not, your troubles are deeper than any policy you dislike. By the way, the post that followed the “I hate Obama” link on my friends page was…and I kid you not…a quote from Billy Graham on our Nations need for turning back to God. This is called “Sending Mixed Signals 101”.
Again, I’m not saying Christians shouldnt be involved in the political process. I think we should. I’m not even saying we shouldn’t have strong political opinions…I think we should. I’m saying we’re foolish to think we can post inflammatory remarks, pics, ect and there not be ramifications. When our opinions shed a negative light or hinder Gospel conversations, we’ve missed the boat. Bad.
Periodically Look Over Your Timeline – When Paul said to “examine ourselves” I’m sure he didn’t have Social Media on his mind but I’ve found that it’s a pretty good tool to gauge Spiritual temps.
Realize That It’s Not Essential – truth be told, not everyone needs a Facebook account. Remember what the Bible says to do with the hand that causes you to sin, right? If FB is providing an opportunity to connect with someone you shouldnt be connecting with, cut it off (read the other day that 80+% of divorces today fave the words “FaceBook” in the court paperwork). If you can’t help yourself and must post junk, argue and misrepresent Jesus, cut it off. If you can’t live without FB then you desperately need to cut it off. The world will still keep spinning. You don’t need it.
Take Social Media Sabbaticals – every so often, unplug. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
Soli Deo Gloria! – Pastor Kyle