By Tony Inman
Senior Pastor, Oakcrest Baptist Church, Ocala, Fla.
As the “cloud” of social media looms overhead, we as Christ followers must consider how much of our lives we will allow it to consume. There is no doubt that social media is firmly established in our society as a major form of information and communication. To ignore this fact would be pointless.
Do I, as one from a generation that can remember life before the Internet, sometimes wish we could go back to simpler times? Absolutely, which just goes to show I have turned into an old fuddy-duddy like those who came before me.
However, we can’t afford to ignore the reality of social media if we want to have relevant communication in this world. Like papyrus and then the printing press, so now we too have our own world altering form of communication in this generation. And like those aforementioned venues, social media can be a tool for good and evil. So how should we as Christians engage and use the opportunity before us?
Here are four quick thoughts:
First, I think we must consider what we are communicating to the world audience. Why do we think we must express every opinion that crosses our mind on social media for the world to see? Social media has indeed changed the way our culture communicates. For one thing, every person now has a platform to express themselves. The good that it has done is that it has opened up dialogue in some circumstances between people. The trouble that it has brought is that every person’s subjective opinion has now become par with truth, which now in our culture’s “reality” no longer exists. This is very dangerous, because truth does exist and must be held as the standard for every believer, and every believer must hold truth as the standard before the world whether they accept it or not. For this very reason, I ask believers to consider more stringently what they throw out on their digital platform for the world to ingest. Along with that we must consider the appropriate amount of time to spend in this virtual world.
Second, may I suggest that we stick to posting the truth and nothing but the truth. There is so much “fake news” today and 10-year-old hoax stories that resurface every few months that no one knows what to believe. As Christ followers we will never convince and argue someone into agreement and total devotion to Christ in our own wisdom and power. Our responsibility is to uphold the truth. Post Scriptural truth and let the Holy Spirit take the job of convicting the world of sin.
Third, please, stop correlating true Christianity with politics. Our primary citizenship is heaven not the United States. (Breathe, just breathe, it is okay that I said that because it is true!) Every time we mix religion and politics we push the truth of redemption further away and blur the lines for those who are lost. If we face conflict it should be as Christians not conservatives. (Do our values line up with conservatives? Sometimes, but that is not our banner).
Fourth, remember that everyone is watching and listening. When you post your opinions on matters, often it is done with only yourself in mind. Maybe it is an issue or activity that you feel the freedom of your relationship with Christ allows you the liberty to engage in. But what about how many others will read it knowing you are a claimed Christian. What if their conscience is bothered? What if it causes others to stumble? Is your opinion really more important than the spiritual growth of a fellow believer or the added confusion of a lost person?
Prudence demands that we not respond to every issue that confronts us in rash emotion, but in patience with discernment and wisdom derived from prayer. Just like your mouth and every word you will speak today, you have this platform and ultimately you must obey I Corinthians 10:31 so that everything you do is for the glory of God.