Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. – Romans 12:9-10
I enjoy using social media. Two of my children are in college now and Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have allowed my wife and I to feel more connected to our kids while they are away. Social media has also helped me to connect to other writers from around the world that I may have never “met” if not for social media. I see social media as a way to stay connected with friends that live far away and as a platform to share my faith and encourage the Body of Christ. There is no doubt that social media can be a powerful relational tool, but it should never replace authentic, face-to-face, voice to ear, heart-to-heart relationships.
I have been amazed at the cruel things that some people say on social media…things that they would probably never say to someone’s face. I have read several articles over the past year about cyber bullying and the pain and suffering that it can cause. Unfortunately, anyone with a keyboard and a social media account can hide behind their computer screens and throw virtual stones that can hurt and maim worse than real ones. I have also been amazed at how social media has been used for good to rally the world to help the hurting, encourage the discouraged, and to spread the Gospel message and the truths of the Bible.
Social media has made the world a lot flatter. Now anybody with a microphone, a keyboard or a video camera can share ideas or their skill (or lack thereof) with the whole world with the click of an Enter key. Introverts can become extroverts on social media because they don’t have to compete with the extroverts to be heard.
Anybody who has engaged in social media knows that it’s easy to get addicted to it. Researchers are starting to learn that using social media actually affects brain chemicals like dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. These are the same brain chemicals that are affected by drugs, food and sex, which explains why social media is so addictive. I don’t know about you but I get excited when I get alerts on my social media accounts that somebody “liked” something that I posted. I get even more excited if someone asks to be my “friend” or “shares” something that I post.
Wouldn’t it be cool if Jesus communicated with His follows on social media? I mean imagine waking up and logging into your Facebook account and finding that Jesus “liked” several of your posts and even shared one of them on His wall. How quickly would you open a personal message from Jesus? If Jesus had a Twitter account what would He tweet? Would He tweet passages from His Word like, “feed my sheep.” If Jesus had an Instagram account what kind of pictures would He post? Would He post pictures of mountains, oceans, flowers, and animals with the caption, “I had a blast making all of these for you. Take care of them.”
I’m being a little silly, but I brought these things up because Jesus may not use social media, but His Body does. Christians have the ability to do great good or great harm to our witness through the use of these communication tools. Maybe Philippians 4:8 would be a good rule of thumb to keep in mind before you post your next status update, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
Jesus doesn’t use Facebook but He still speaks to us today. He speaks to us through the Bible, the Body of Christ and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit exist in a perfect loving relationship. We were created to share in this love and to experience true community with our triune God and with each other.
Some people probably wish that social media would just go away. They would say that social media is just one more distraction that is keeping us from experiencing real community and relationships. They lament the fact that we text more than we talk and that pencils have been replaced with pixels. While most of those laments are valid, I’m afraid that social media is here to stay. We are wired to express ourselves and social media allows us to express ourselves instantly to the world in a way that fits into our busy lives.
Since there is probably no turning back, I think that I will end with 15 key questions that Kevin Halloran has shared to help Christians follow Jesus on social media. I have listed Kevin’s questions below, but would encourage you to check out the original post because he expands a little on each question and it is just excellent.
1) Who are you seeking to glorify through social media? 1 Corinthians 10:31
2) Does social media lead you to sin? Matthew 5:29
3) Does your speech build up or tear down? James 3:1
4) Do people see the light of Christ in you in what you post? Matthew 5:16
5) Is social media your master? 1 Corinthians 6:12
6) Does the use of social media help you redeem the time that God has given you? Ephesians 5:16
7) Does your use of social media help you renew your mind in God’s truth like you should? Romans 12:2
8) Do you use social media as a platform to complain? Philippians 2:15-15
9) Do you use social media for unprofitable arguments? Proverbs 18:2
10) Do you value social media interactions more than real-life relationships? Matthew 22:39
11) Does social media make you a healthier and more productive person? Deuteronomy 6:5
12) So you have any relationships through social media that you should cut off? 1 Corinthians 15:33
13) Does social media help you be content? 1 Timothy 6:6
14) Do you use social media to boost your ego and feel good about yourself? Mark 8:36
15) Do you use social media to hide? Proverbs 15:14