I mentioned to a friend earlier today that I was never discipled in social media as a follower of Jesus. I was discipled about a lot of things: what was okay to drink or not to drink, whether I could wear an earring or not (and which ear), what kind of music to enjoy, and what kind of movies or TV shows to watch. Granted, I’m not sure much of that was helpful, and the internet didn’t exist yet, but no one ever discipled me in how to follow Jesus faithfully on social media! No where in my growing up experience did I encounter a “Jesus and Facebook” lesson or class. None of us did.
I think we need one.
This morning I was reminded of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Jesus had just finished a long bit about the futile nature of worry and chasing after things like the pagans do. At the end of all of this, He says to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all the other things we get obsessed with will find their proper place.
I think those of us who follow Jesus need to take a hard look at our online presence and ask whether it’s really helping us seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. Does what I post help promote Jesus and his kingdom or is it something else? Do the endless debates and arguments really help move anyone closer to Jesus? Is making your point in this way on this medium really helping or hurting?
Please understand, I’m not afraid of debate or disagreement or even difficult conversations. In fact, I think the days ahead necessitate lots of difficult, hard conversations if we’re ever going to work through some of the challenges our world is facing right now. I’m just not convinced that all our passionate posting is helping us in the long run. Does it help advance the kingdom of God? Does this put Jesus on display? Does this demonstrate love for my neighbor? Is this effort giving the watching world an accurate representation of Jesus and what it means to follow him? The world is watching on social media. It’s one thing for me to debate my crazy uncle at grandma’s house on Christmas day, it’s another thing to have the same debate on the loudspeaker at Walmart! Social media has put us all on the loudspeaker at Walmart.
A friend reminded me today that these difficult conversations need to happen across the dinner table, not across Facebook or whatever social media platform is being utilized. Perhaps, rather than whip out the next zinger response to a post you disagree with, you need to pull out the phone and call the person and ask, “Can we get together for lunch sometime soon?” Some of you under the age of forty will need to text the message, but it’s still a good idea! Perhaps that might give you the opportunity to represent Jesus and love your neighbor in a better way than can be captured in a few lines of text.
I know this probably isn’t my most well thought out or eloquent blog entry, but it’s been a rough week of seeing lots of damage done by brothers and sisters who probably didn’t mean to do harm. I think we’re called to a better way. I’m praying that I might be able to live out Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:16 better than I have up to now. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
CGGC eNews—Vol. 14, No. 26