Speaking Truth, Bringing Hope
A look at Christian Social Media
Scrolling through social media has now become a favorite thing to do to pass the time or to find out what is going on in the world for youth and adults in our current age. Many Facebook users have more friends than they can remember and have friends that they would never even call friends if it weren’t for Facebook. I would even venture to say that social media is now the most common way people receive news in our current culture. Someone posts a new article or a live stream rant about what is happening in the world and it goes viral in a matter of moments.
Some of this reality is good. We know what we can be praying for in a matter of moments. We know how we can support a friend or family member in need with the click of a button. We can share exciting or important news with multiple people with one picture or a post. And with the ability to share with multiple people in just a moment’s notice we stay connected with people that we may not have the opportunity to see or talk to regularly.
However, this reality also brings with it a number of concerns. Anyone who has spent time on social media, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, etc. has seen the divisive power of words. From the extremes of internet bullying to the throw away comments on someone’s post or picture, words have the power to either tear down or to bring hope.
We have currently been reading in the book of James as a church, and interestingly enough James has a lot to say about the power of the tongue. James 1:19-20, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 2:12 says, “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom.” James 3:9-10, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings who have been made in God’s likeness...My brother and sisters, this should not be.” And James 4:11 says, “Brother and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it.”
And in 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 Paul reminds us, “16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
So, whenever we engage in social media we need to keep in mind that we are “ambassadors of Christ” above all else. If what we are about to write in a comment to a news article, photo, political post, or protest piece doesn’t speak truth and bring hope then we need to ask ourselves if we are responding with Christ’s best interest in mind.
What does it mean to speak truth and bring hope? First of all, if we are going to share a political or religious opinion we had better do all of our research! Our current news climate doesn’t do us any favors and whatever station we subscribe to has a slant. Unfortunately, news reporting today is more about opinion than it is about fact and so we need to go research all the angles of a story or religious opinion before we state anything as truth.
Secondly, we need to be bearers of hope in every situation. That doesn’t mean sugar coat the truth, but it means to use our social platform with the utmost respect without using harsh or critical language. Jesus didn’t mince words with the woman caught in adultery, but he brought hope first. He said, “[they don’t condemn you?], neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” He called what she was doing sin, but he did not condemn her in the moment or in the moments that followed. He didn’t consider her from an earthly point of view (that sinner, unworthy woman, who broke the law) but with a heavenly perspective (that child of God who need grace, forgiveness, and hope). Do those we disagree with need grace, forgiveness, and hope? Yes! If for no other reason than they are created by the same God who created you and me and they have as much of His likeness as we have!
Social media is a great way to stay connected and encourage each other, especially in our military context where our friends are all over the world. But we need to remain aware of the pitfalls that come with having the power to communicate instantly. We need to take our time, ask if what we are about to write will bring hope, and always seek God’s wisdom as we respond in our social media world.