When I was younger we thought two tin cans attached by a string made for great communication devices for our war time games. If we wanted to catch up with a friend we had to use a land-line telephone-that’s a phone that actually had to plug into a wall for your millennials. Now we can reach out and touch like never before in real time with friends and family across the oceans by way of social media vehicles and smart phones. I am an avid user of such media and have to admit that without it I may have never reconnected with some of my childhood and school friends and caught up on their lives hundreds or thousands of miles apart. And who doesn’t enjoy watching cat videos to pass the time.
The number of active accounts on social media is mind boggling. On Facebook alone there were over 1.65 BILLION active accounts as of April 2016! I would swear some of my FB friends know every last one of them. The potential to reach the masses has never been greater or easier as it is now with everyone having access to these media outlets right on their personal smart phones. But like any good invention it didn’t take long for some of us to pervert it and abuse it to the detriment of many. Specifically I am addressing us church folks who have used it to preach false doctrines, perpetuate hate and alienate Christian siblings who have differing views on social, political and religious issues. I have witnessed just within my limited circle of friends how harmful social media can be when used for the wrong purpose. It can be embarrassing, hurtful and quite frankly, not very Christ-like.
There is a verse, Mark 13:10 that says the Good News must first be preached to all nations. The worldwide usage of social media may be the very vehicle God intends for us to use to fulfill that requirement. In countries where Bibles are not allowed, study can still be done discreetly on smart phones by way of URLs to Bible sites. The Word is going forth by way of social media into areas where Christianity is otherwise forbidden. The impact social media has on spreading the Good News can not and must not be ignored. The potential for people to be pointed to the only source of salvation, Jesus Christ has never been greater. But alas, just as there are those who use the very Word of God to divide and tear down instead of its intended purpose of offering hope, there are those who abuse sites like Facebook to bring harm and disruption and discord among the Church. For me this a travesty, and one I have been guilty of myself in years past.
If you are concerned about your activity on social media let me suggest the following verses as a measuring stick regarding social media posts:
1 Thessalonians 5:11; “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…”
Hebrews 10:24; “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…”
Romans 14:19; “So let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding”
Eph. 4:29; “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths but only what is good for building up”
1 Peter 2:1-24; “Put away all malice, deceit and hypocrisy and envy and slander. Be like living stones used to build a spiritual house…
Exodus 23:1; “You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join with a wicked man to be a false witness.” (This is a biggie on social media, sharing uncorroborated posts).
Does this mean we have to type “Amen” to every lame meme that comes into our box, of course not-that is only another form of a false doctrine. However it does mean that we need to be aware that our social media posts may as well be billboards for the number of people who will come across them in your circle. There is but one truth, one Holy Gospel and not a myriad of relative truths based on our socio, economic, political or religious persuasion. To cause others to stumble in the faith is irresponsible at best, and to turn someone who is genuinely seeking away from the truth because of a hateful or divisive post is simply unforgivable. Don’t be like I once was, guilty of perverting a tool that should have been used to exhort, not destroy. Peace.