I’m often pondering how I can use social media in a godly way. It’s not that I’m clueless; I simply want to please God when I post. But it never hurts to have some of the holes in your understanding filled by others. And I’m thankful that Cara Joyner has helped save me from my usual mental over-complicating of such things in her recent blog article “5 Questions to Ask Before Posting To Social Media.” Cara’s brief thoughts in response to her own questions are thought-provoking. Every [millennial] Christian should consider carefully what she says, as ours is a society where more and more of individuals’ lives are becoming public, and not necessarily for the greater good or glory of God. The purpose of this article is to both briefly respond to Cara, while adding questions of my own. And of course I know Cara isn’t the first to bring the issue to light, but her material is a great springboard for further discussion.
I’ve been on the wrong side of all Cara’s questions at some point or another, no doubt. Certainly I’ve posted content to Facebook (i.e. what I thought were clever comments, Bible verses, links to articles I’d just read or videos I’d just watched) in the hopes that a mere minute later, someone…anyone on my friends list would at least click that stinkin’ “Like” link and notice me!
Certainly I’ve posted about something I just received, watched, or experienced… wishing that someone would think along-side me, “Wow, that’s so great/cool/wonderful!” You know, that ol’ pat on the back.
Certainly I’ve posted to Facebook for the sole purpose of expressing bitterness about the weather, or disappointment about the outcome of an event I was looking forward to, etc. Surely someone would shake their fist with me at what God had ordained!
Certainly I’ve posted to Facebook because something took place or was said while spending time with family and/or friends that was simply too wonderful or epic to not share! We don’t have to consider the need for it, or care if the other party might at all be opposed to the sharing of such information.
And Cara’s last question, “Is it kind?”, is sadly I think a huge area of concern for Christians. And though I’ve tried to be exceedingly careful on this issue, I know I could dig back through the years recorded on my timeline and find something that would make me blush in shame. Kindness should never be a rare commodity in the online Christian community.
The bottom line is none of the aforementioned points to Jesus Christ. None of it reflects Him. I’m thankful for Cara’s encouraging us to consider these things more biblically. And it’s not as though we simply ought to. We must. Sure, none of us are capable of damaging God’s reputation beyond repair, but we Christians mustn’t be careless either! We are, after all, His ambassadors…and those with whom we interact are led to God by knowing us first. Our online life is just as meaningful to others and impactful as our lives are offline.
And now for my two cents. I know that in my meager realm of 200+ friends, I haven’t seen a fraction of what’s been published overall to Facebook (or any other social media), nor do I know anyone’s heart (as Cara also makes clear)…but I can just as well spot completely un-Christlike content. I want to ask a few questions in the hopes of stirring up this “thinking pot” even more.
1) How is your participation in social media productive for eternity? Do you encourage others to be more like Jesus Christ? Or is social media primarily a vehicle for you to talk about things that don’t ultimately matter, to only discuss the trivial matters of life? There’s room and time for play, but God always comes first. (Matthew 22:37-40)
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
2) Does what you say in online conversations criticize, mock, or outright slander others? Well, that’s what the Pharisees, Sanhedrin, and Romans did to our Christ! What happened to showing perfect courtesy to everyone at all times regardless of deserving or circumstances? (Titus 3:2)
to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
3) Are your posts possibly corrupting others? Indecent comments and pictures are a dime a dozen already online. Christians needn’t be adding to the mess. (Ephesians 4:29-30)
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
4) Are you complaining with your posts? We see it every day, but complaining clearly violates Scripture. Paul wrote Philippians from prison, but yet was rejoicing in the Lord! (I Thessalonians 5:16, Philippians 4:4)
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
5) Do you participate in online debates to dominate others? Debating need not end with the inflating of your ego and the hurt of another. Quarreling doesn’t require much thought or effort, but choosing to not insist on the final word or to “be right” will go a long way for God’s kingdom. (Titus 3:9, II Timothy 2:23)
But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.
Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.
Surely you could think of other ungodly uses of Facebook, Twitter, etc, but I won’t go off the deep end. Social media really is just an extension of who you are. You use it either for self-serving purposes, or for others and God’s glory. It will either expose an idol in your heart, or demonstrate how the Lord has worked in your life. Let’s hope the pattern in both cases is the latter for all of us. And in general, don’t be afraid to ask yourself why you use social media. Why… in the moment that you are? The answer is important! Regardless of what we do [with social media] though (I Corinthians 10:31), let it all be for God’s glory.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.