|Volume 22 Number 2 February 2020||
The Christian and Social Media
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
Do you remember the time before the flood of social media? Times may have been a bit simpler and much less cluttered. It seems that today many are glued to their computers, phones and tablets—tweeting, posting and tagging anything and everything under the sun. Social media has flooded our world! It keeps people informed, inspired and in tune to the world around them. Almost everyone is involved in social media of some type. While social media, like any other tool, is neither bad nor good in and of itself, it depends on how social media is used as to whether it is positive or negative. Let’s examine some of both good and bad of social media.
Pitfalls of Social Media
There are certainly many spiritual dangers to avoid when involved in social media. Gossip is a real pitfall for those involved in social media. Unfortunately, some confuse the clothesline for Facebook and “air their dirty laundry” and the laundry of others as well. Social media is somewhat of a breeding ground for things that are really none of our business. “A forward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends” (Proverbs 16:28). “Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles” (Proverbs 21:23). How true are these passages especially in relation to in what some involve themselves through social media? Remember, not everything you see on your social media feeds are things to which you should respond or with which you ought to become involved (cf., Matthew 7:12).
Closely akin to Gossip is spreading strife among brethren, which is a real danger in social media. Something happens in a local congregation that is negative, and before worship begins across the world, some brethren have spread it and often propagated only half the story! God despises discord among brethren (Proverbs 6:16-19). How do you suppose God feels about the spreader of such conflict? “He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth chief friends” (Proverbs 17:9; cf., James 4:11).
Brawling is another danger of social media. When we think of “brawling,” we usually think of people fighting with their fists. However, often social media has become the ring for verbal brawls. Paul reminded Titus of the unprofitable nature of empty arguing and foolish controversies (Titus 3:9-11).
Wasting precious time is another pitfall of social media. God’s children are called to make the most of their time rather than to squander it (Ephesians 5:16). Sadly, there are Christians, by their own admission, who spend the majority of their days on social media. I wonder how God views that in light of all we could be doing which is more profitable?
Benefits of Social Media
Like many things, social media, when used properly, can profit Christians in a great way. Evangelism is a benefit of social media. Be careful with this one, however, because some will only post a spiritual thought and believe they have carried out the Great Commission. Yet, the Worldwide Web and social media outlets do aid us in “discipling the nations” (Matthew 28:18-20). Be forewarned, though, that social media is not the place to debate Bible teachings; too much harm can come as a result of “arguing” a biblical truth. Nothing will ever replace “face to face” evangelism!
Encouragement is another benefit of social media. Everyone needs positive, spiritual thoughts and words (Hebrews 3:13; 10:23-25). Are your posts, tweets and tags positive and edifying? How do others view your activity on social media?
Power of Social Media
With one click of a button, one can help or hinder a person miles away—even on another continent! There is so much good in social media, and there is so much bad. It really depends upon the one who is using it. The power lies within your fingers and keyboard. The main aim of social media is to express oneself. What an opportunity to flavor and light this sinful world (Matthew 5:13-16)! However, social media also provides an opportunity to bring shame upon oneself and the church for which Jesus died. Shame or glory is found within a simple stroke of a key; that is power!
Serious questions to ask oneself in the realm of social media are these: “If Jesus were on social media, would He ‘like’ the post I just put up? Would He ‘follow’ me on twitter and ‘friend me’ on Facebook?” Make sure that in all you do, even in the realm of social media, is to the glory of God. “Whether therefore ye eat or drink or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Perhaps you heard recently about the gift Garth Brooks and his wife, Trisha Yearwood, made to a couple who attended his concert recently. During a particular song, one of the attendees proposed to his girlfriend, which attracted everyone’s attention to them, including Brooks, who stopped his performance. Brooks then announced he and his wife would pay for their honeymoon, if they would go to Hawaii. Later, representatives from Brooks contacted the couple to get their information and fulfill his promise to them.
The offer was given freely to this couple, something the singer was under no obligation to provide. While the story received coverage focusing on the generosity of the singer, no one has protested the condition placed on it, that they had to go to Hawaii to receive the free honeymoon. You might argue, “Are you crazy? Who would quarrel over that? Hawaii is a wonderful place to have a honeymoon!” So, the requirement included to receive the free honeymoon is a non-issue. No one questions the motives of Garth Brooks, and no one contends that this engaged couple, by attending his concert, earned the honeymoon. Even with the stipulation of where the honeymoon was to be, it is considered a magnanimous gift.
I wonder why, then, when God freely offers us the gift of eternal life through His Son, the religious world protests the condition of obedience that God places upon it. Is it not still a gift we have not earned and that we do not deserve? Paul noted, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). Therefore, eternal life is not something we inherently deserve. Jesus also said, “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done’” (Luke 17:10). Obviously, we can’t earn it. It is still a gift, even though submission to His will is what God desires from us to receive this magnanimous gift.
It is interesting that the religious world typically rejects immersion, so that our sins can be forgiven, as a meritorious work on our part. Yet, even Jesus called faith a work in that it is a response to the will of God. “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent” (John 6:29). So, if one is consistent, why would anyone insist that a person must have faith and confess one’s faith? If salvation is a gift with no strings attached, why insist on the importance of faith? Obviously, because it’s important to God and something He deems necessary for us to have (Hebrews 11:6). So, why reject immersion? When Peter told the crowd in Acts 2 to repent and to be immersed to receive forgiveness of sins, he used the imperative for both verbs, indicating a command—a necessity. Indeed, when the Lord confronted Paul on the road to Damascus, Jesus told Paul that Ananias would come to him, telling him what he must do. The word “must” indicates a necessity that had to be done. We later read Paul was immersed (Acts 9:18) so that his sins could be washed away (Acts 22:16). What command of God do we have the right to negate when He provides us eternal life through the blood of His Son? It is no less a gift of God when He tells us what we must do to be saved, for without His intervention, we could perform thousands of acts, none of which would accomplish our forgiveness. Works of the Law of Moses won’t profit our salvation today, and neither will works of human merit. However, doing the will—the work—of God is essential.
This principle is true for us even after we obey the Gospel. How many protest the need to assemble regularly to worship God and to be edified in Christ? The writer of Hebrews indicated its necessity when he, by inspiration, told us not to forsake assembling (Hebrews 10:25). Do we feel free to rewrite God’s will simply to suit our desires? Paul said we were created in Christ Jesus for good works (Ephesians 2:10). Can we ignore living the Christian life because we don’t want to serve and yet still please God? The heart of all this is the love of God. God sent Jesus to save us because of His love (John 3:16). He wants us to be conformed to His image so we can spend eternity with Him (Ephesians 5:1-2). Do we think God is overstepping His authority and negates the gift of salvation by desiring us to live for Him? Do we feel we would earn it if we submitted to Him? Do we think God doesn’t mean what He says in His Word, and that whatever we do or don’t do doesn’t matter to Him? The writer of Hebrews penned, “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:8-9). If we truly love God, how can we refuse to obey Him?
If Garth Brooks can attach terms to a honeymoon gift without anyone calling it unfair or protesting that it isn’t a gift by doing so, why do we challenge God regarding His gift of eternal life? Do we so despise the precious sacrifice of Christ and slander the motives of God or think Him unfair by what He asks of us?