For many of us, social media has become one of our main sources of communication in a public forum. It is the place go to share great events taking place in our lives such as births, weddings, new jobs and other celebrated occasions. It is also a central avenue where we may keep in touch with friends who have moved away and see how the Lord is working in their lives or how we can continue to pray for them. In many ways, social media has many positives like any community, and this is an important part for us to remember not just that it isn’t all bad, but that to a degree it is a community. It is a place with real people, with real emotions, real thoughts, real hurts, real sins, and where real souls do exist. Behind the computer screen lies men and women designed by Father and those for whom his Son was sent. So, when we think about social media and the gospel we have to think about it just like any other community we exist in and that comes down to the question: does my speech, conduct and attitude online reflect the gospel or does it reflect the world. The Epistle of James is probably one of the best works in the New Testament on the way we love out the Christian life and as such can be easily applied to our lives online.
“but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.” James 3:8-12
First, let us think of our speech. James spends a lot of his time discussing what it means to follow Christ. The book goes into extensive discussion on how we examine our lives in light of the truth of Christ and in a modern world we can easily apply it to the world of social media. That means, that when James addresses the issue of the tongue we can address the issue of our tweets, comments, status updates, Instagrams, Snapchat stories, blogs, etc.. For most of us on social media sites the above issues of blessing the Lor with one tweet d and cursing others in a comment section is nothing new, in one moment we are quoting scripture or posting memes about the greatness of God or his love and in the next moment tearing people down or calling them names, because we disagree with them or simple because we don’t like something they said, but this should never happen. As believers, our speech should reflect the gospel in all its ways that includes our online presence. Ask yourselves these questions: does my online life look any different from non-believers? If a non-Christian friend looked through my social media presence would they believe there is something different in how I post and how I comment and interact with others? So when we approach life in a social media world we must remember when commenting or posting to think first about how the things I am saying represent Christ. We are ambassadors of the gospel in all we do, either for good or for bad, so think about if you are seeking to further the kingdom of God.
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. James: 1-3
The next thing that follows the words we say is the attitude behind it. James deals with this same topic. Sometimes the words we say may not be inherently sinful, but the attitude that they originate from is. James simply wants us to think about the conflicts that originate in our lives, especially among fellow believers. What we see is that it does not derive from a effort to see the gospel put on display, but rather there is an attitude of jealousy or self-righteousness behind it. Social media can be no different, when we hit up Twitter or Facebook what is the motivation behind what we post, again are you looking to build up the body of Christ, show the gospel at work in your life, simply post about what is going on in your life so unbelievers can see the Christian community at work, or do we post to make ourselves look better, to make others look less than us, to tear down others. What is the motivation of our hearts when we post and especially towards those who will read and react to our posts. While, those online may not be able to see the attitude behind what we post online, God does and He is the one we seek to honor and serve, so may we do so with our online presences. Let us examine our hearts to see the motivation behind our posts, and unlike with speech we have more time to process and respond in a way that is honor to the Lord, because you can think and process your words and attitude before you hit enter.
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:17-18
Finally, let us seek true wisdom form God and delivered it to the world. A wisdom from above does not look like the world nor acts like it.