Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.
I’m sure there are several more but, for me, these are the big ones.
Social media has many benefits. I can’t even begin to tell you how I have been blessed by it. It would take me more than one blog post to name all of the dear sisters and brothers I’ve met on Twitter and Instagram. The relationships I have with many of them go beyond social media and I am so grateful for them. Just to give an example, a dear sister of mine who lives in California introduced me to a sister that lives here in Arizona. It was so nice to meet a reformed believer once I came here and now my Arizona sister is one of my dearest friends. We pray together, hike mountains together, and I truly enjoy her company.
I have found an amazing body of reformed believers on Twitter and Instagram. When I first started learning reformed doctrine I was a sponge soaking up everything I could about it. I created a Twitter account and it totally opened up so many relationships. I was able to chat with brothers and sisters from all around the world about things that mattered to me: the gospel, Jesus, sin. I was able to talk about things I wasn’t very educated on: Calvinism, the prosperity gospel, among others. I thoroughly enjoy social media when I see my brothers and sisters defending the truth against the false teachers and equipping new believers with the truth.
But recently, more often than not, I find myself taking long extended breaks from social media. I see so many Christians involved in unhealthy dialogue with believers and non-believers. While, I believe we must be firm in sharing the gospel I have seen some very ungracious conversations. I have seen unrighteous anger, and sometimes tweets there were downright malicious.
My pastor said at church recently that we are walking billboards. Brethren, that resonated with me so much. We are walking billboards. How we speak and how we act should be a direct representation of Jesus. Does our speech glorify God or does it speak against Him? Do our words discredit what we say we believe?
The way we behave on social media should be the same way we behave every single day as believers. Sometimes we have to do a heart check while on social media.
It can be easy to be behind a computer screen, or phone screen, and have ungracious exchanges with another person on Twitter. Sometimes I think it’s easier for us to say things behind a computer screen that we wouldn’t venture to say in person. While using social media here are a few things to consider:
When a person visits your page, what is going to be their first reaction? We are spokesmen and women for Christ. How do your tweets, pictures, and status updates reflect Christ? What if someone was new to the faith and came across your social media page? Would they be encouraged or discouraged? We are called to go into the world and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28: 19-20). Are you doing that on your page?
How are you interacting with your brothers and sisters online, even when you disagree? Are you sharing the truth in love? There are a lot of angry, resentful people in the world. They are on Twitter too; you won’t escape them there. When they entice you with their false doctrine, or “troll you” how do you respond?
Well, 1 Peter 3:9 says “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling….” Believe me, I am PASSIONATE about God's word. I know His word is true and I share the gospel any chance I can, so it is especially hard to hear someone completely mishandle God's word or blaspheme His name. This is a never-ending scenario, so I had to learn how to respond in a biblical manner quickly! I stopped taking the bait or inserting myself in every available argument. We need to use wisdom and discernment when interacting with non-believers. I now ask myself why am I surprised that this person would speak about God this way? They are behaving as nonbelievers do.
How did Jesus respond when he was ridiculed? There are plenty of examples of our Savior’s gracious response. I’ve studied Isaiah 53 and I believe it gives a perfect example of how Jesus responded to vicious attacks. “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted yet he opened not his mouth.” Isaiah 53:7. If our Lord could receive such harsh, UNDERSERVED treatment how dare we not try to respond the way he did?
Also, it can get incredibly tedious having the same conversations with the same bitter people. When I used to have those interactions, I always wondered HOW they happened to find MY post? It was like they wanted to know more about God or something. Anyways, when that same person, or those people, persist don’t resort to a one liner that will embarrass them or leave them in shame. As easy as that can be, it is not appropriate. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us what the fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Keep those in mind when interacting on social media. Honestly, don’t just limit that truth to social media.
Always speak the truth and speak it in love. Don't speak your truth; instead speak God's truth according to His word. Our personal opinions aren’t the gospel. Daily, I see the body debating about the president's tweets, social justice, Beth Moore, and many other issues. Are these debates important? Most of the time they are. So many are being led astray by false gospels and we need to defend the truth and help bring others out of darkness. However, how does it appear to non believers when they see Christians bickering over some of the silliest things. I am not by any means saying shy away from truth but do you speak it in love? Are you looking for an applause from your followers? I see so many brothers interjecting themselves in debates that we really shouldn’t be involved in. These debates are not going to bring God glory, and most of the time they cause more division.
Why are we singling out every ridiculous thing that Beth Moore says and making it a huge argument? And that question isn't limited to Beth Moore, but countless others. We know Beth Moore is not to be trusted with God's word. I am not meaning to single Beth Moore out because she is not the only one who is not to be trusted with God's word. We can speak the truth in love and still not endorse that person. That is how I choose to respond when I see foolishness. I have to do a heart check sometimes. I have to delete tweets that I had no business writing. They may not have been mean or offensive but did that tweet glorify God in this situation? Could that status encourage or discourage a new believer?
I try and remember Ephesians 4:29 daily during my interactions. It is important to show grace and assume the best in people. We need to use our words to edify others, encourage new and tenured believers, and speak out against false teachers. We can do all of that on social media because everything is readily accessible but remember who you are. You are a Christian and your behavior and speech is set apart from the world. The impact of your faithfulness should be in complete view for the world to see!