Last quarter, Facebook announced that it had 1.19 billion active monthly users. Of those, 728 million of these users logging in daily. In addition, Twitter logged 304 million active monthly users with more than half of these users tweeting messages daily. If Facebook and Twitter were their own country, combined they come close to rivaling the population size of both China and the United States. Many believe there is still more growth to come for both platforms.
As we consider social media as a platform for getting a message to a large audience, it’s important to ask ourselves, as Christians, “How do we use social media to glorify God?” Maybe an equally important question is, “How should Christians use Social Media?” Are these networks the next big mission field or an enormous waste of time?
As we read verses like Hebrews 10:24, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,” what can we do to ensure that we maintain a perspective in the social media space?
While there are a number of verses of Scripture that come to mind with regard to taming the tongue (James 3), as believers it’s important for us to develop our own standards for leveraging social media as a platform. The following are some ideas that might be helpful as you develop your own ideas around usage of this important media tool:
Scripture tells us to be encouraging to one another. Many use social media as an escape from the realities of life that are weighing upon them. Often, an encouraging word or thought (or even a verse of Scripture) can be exactly what is needed to help someone going through a difficult time. You’d be surprised at how many people are drawn to follow someone who consistently provides light during a dark time.
Respond to others with gentleness
We should always be prepared to provide an answer to those who desire to know more about what we believe or why we believe it. However, the Scripture says that we should do this with gentleness and respect. It’s easy to witness others use social media as an anonymous sledgehammer to get a particular point of view across to others. While there’s nothing wrong with passion about issues, we must remember that a word spoken with kindness helps the strong medicine of ideas to go down more smoothly.
Fruits of the Spirit
Social media is a great space to demonstrate the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives. There are times when, regardless of how hard you try, there’s always someone who desires to “push your buttons” on an issue. It’s at exactly those times when we must display (as others are watching) the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. There are times when it takes prayer to achieve this when things get heated. It’s important to remember our goal is to share truth and allow God to move on the hearts of others. Winning people is much more important than winning an argument. Truth speaks for itself.
Never Let Facebook Replace Face to Face
We live in a culture where it is possible to carry on a relationship and a conversation for an extensive period of time with only the smartphone in our pocket. But is this really an authentic relationship? Of course not! We can’t really say that we know a person based off of what they post on Facebook or Twitter. People tend to only show the best of themselves online, giving us a false interpretation of who someone really is. When the opportunity for a real, true discussion arises online, replace comments and messages with a coffee date.
What can be so easy to forget behind a screen is that the photo avatars you are posting to/with are all actual human beings. SomeBODY is reading what you post. Believe it or not, God loves each and every person in your Facebook Feed as much as He loves you, and that’s a whole lot! We’re called to live a lifestyle of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. And then we’re supposed to wrap all of that up in love.