Remember when Facebook was all about “Poking” people, getting FarmVille requests, and sharing cat photos? Those were the good ole days… Now it seems every post is an attack on someone with opposing views. And that’s not limited to Facebook, this trend spans across all platforms. In this new reality, how should Christians use social media?
I’m not really going to go into all the reasons why people say the things they do on social media; that’s a different article. But a quick side note that I think is important to recognize is that the picture we get of our country on social media is very skewed. Our country isn’t nearly as divided as one might think. Just go outside and talk to your neighbor, and you will find that the level of hate on social media isn’t often lived out in the real world (though we still got problems).
What I really want to get at in this article is what Christians post on social media. It seems like every day I read a cringe-worthy post or tweet from a Christian. And that needs to stop.
Christians And Social Media… What You Post Matters
Here’s the bottom line: What you post online as a follower of Jesus tells those reading it something about God, good or bad.
I just can’t think of a good reason to EVER post something hateful or damning directed at another person, political party, people group, or organization. It’s not effective, and it doesn’t show God’s love to others.
I know I know… You’re passionate about your view. But you can be right in your belief and wrong in how you live your belief out. And I’m convinced that arguing on social media will never do any good.
Arguing on social media is kinda like playing chess with a pigeon. No matter how good you are, he will just knock over all the pieces, crap on the board, and strut around like he won. It’s just not worth it.
You will never convince anyone to change their political stance, religion, their social behavior, or whatever, by engaging in an argument over a computer screen. You just won’t. All that will happen is that each side will become more entrenched in their own opinions.
What you will accomplish is losing your credibility. You will give a poor representation of what Jesus looks like. You will miss out on the community with others. And most importantly, you will push more people away from the God that loves them.
You Represent Jesus (even online)
As Christians we are called to represent Christ everywhere we go. That includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, the comment section on your favorite news source, and everywhere else you go. You don’t get to decide if you are going to represent Jesus; you get to decide how you will represent him.
I get it, you are passionate about your political leanings. And they are important. But the message of the Gospel is so much more important. So don’t alienate people by posting ridiculous things that won’t convince anyone of anything and will just piss them off. There’s no point.
What would a democrat think if they read your latest tweet? How about a republican? Is that rant about gun control, the latest social trend, Obama-care/Trump-care, or whatever actually worth it? Is that going to accomplish anything? Or will it just alienate people from you?
Maybe you are thinking well I don’t really want to associate with “those” people. Whoever “those people” are in your book. But you might want to rethink that. Jesus is for ALL people. And that includes the people you cannot stand.
When you post something bashing a person, a president, a leader, a group of people, a profession, or a political party, you are bashing someone that Jesus died for. You are spewing hate at someone that Jesus told you to love. You are doing the opposite of what the Gospel says to do. Let that sink in.
People need to hear about Jesus before they hear your own opinions. But often people know what we are for and against RATHER than who we follow.
Think Before You Post
I’m not saying that you should never post anything political or controversial. But we should start thinking about what our posts are telling others about God. And we should pursue unity with those that view the world differently than us. Community with each other is more important than our freedom of speech. We need to recognize the distance that our posts can put between us.
Here’s a good question to ask yourself: Is this something I would say to someone’s face?
Here’s another one: Is this something Jesus would have said?
If you claim to follow Jesus we are told we have to die to ourselves, daily. Maybe for us, that means watching what we post on our social media accounts. Maybe that means that we have to sacrifice some of our freedoms for the sake of the Gospel.
Listen, Christians, we have to start being careful of what we post on social media. There’s a lot more at stake than whether or not you can own a gun or what kind of healthcare you will get. Those are important. But not at the cost of damaging your relationships with others. Jesus is more important.
If you follow Jesus be careful what you post. Stand up for your beliefs but don’t alienate people in your life who view things differently than you do. Choose unity rather than being right.
When we learn more about Jesus and grow in our relationship with him we can represent him better. Here are some books that can help you in that process: