I’m sure by now, you’re exhausted by the whole Christians and social media conversation. I am too, yet there’s still more to be said. Please permit me a few more thoughts before we crown ourselves social media graduates and experts, taking our diplomas and smart phones and marching proudly across the stage after watching The Social Dilemma and having remembered the sermon illustration pointing out that everyone can see us picking our nose in our car – we are not as hidden as we think.
I believe it’s important to consider 3 things regarding social media: it is used to gather and connect – for a purpose. We’re also to be in the world while not of it and – last but not least – Zaccheus may be a wee little man but he has a power-packed punch of a story. Confused? Let’s clear the mud together, shall we?
Before we clear the mud, I’d like to start by stating the purpose for social media in my view and therefore this post: to gather with others and connect. It is social after all. Please read all I share in that light.
To Gather for a Purpose
When Christians gather, we gather for a purpose. Usually, we’re referring to gathering as the church at church (in a building), but no matter how we gather, one thing’s for certain – the bible is persistent in focusing on building up the whole body when gathering. So, what if we used this purpose for most of any of the other times we gather – like gathering on social media? Paul writes, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another with all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Col. 3:16). We teach and admonish one another as we sing to the Lord. As we praise God, we build each other up. Paul goes so far as to say that everything in the gathered assembly should be done with a view to building up the body in Christ (1 Cor. 14:26). Everything that we do when we gather as a body of believers, aims at building up the body in love so that we all attain maturity in Christ (Eph. 4:11–16).
When gathering in a public forum like social media where not all consider themselves Christians, I don’t think you can go wrong with the same line of thinking – your mission should you choose to accept it, is to encourage and build up every time you post or comment. Even your non Christian social media friends and followers can appreciate that from you. What has been your purpose when you gather on social media?
In the World Not of It
As Christ followers, though we are not of the world like the rest of the inhabitants of this big beautiful globe, it is important that we stay in it. Jesus himself said in a prayer that he had no intention of us checking out while here, “ I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it” (John17:14-16).
I’ve been a little puzzled by my brothers and sisters who jumped ship on FaceBook and Instagram and headed over to Parler or MeWe. If you don’t know what Parler or MeWe are, as far as I understand it, they’re alternative social media sites where more like minded people gather to share like mindedness without being censored by outsiders. Which is totally fine if your purpose is to socialize with the like minded. Since we are to be in the world, I will trust those who have left FB have alternative ways to meet unchurched people. For me, it’s easier to stay in FB land. However, I’ve also joined a secular book club! But I digress…
I feel I should also confess that I talk about Jesus and the bible often and consistently on social media and have never been censored. I also rather love that not all my followers agree with me. I like to learn the perspectives of others so that I can connect with them better. I certainly do “unfollow” people whose posts exhaust me, but I don’t unfriend them or leave FaceBook altogether. I want to remain a light in the harbor for anyone who may need it.
I, like Ariel, “wanna be where the people are – I wanna see wanna see them dancing.” I want to stay on FB and see where people are hurting, how they’re lost, what they’re passionate about. I want not to preach to them, but to offer a reprieve that will lead them to perhaps be a Zaccheus in my life. A what?…
What if Luke 19 read like this?
Jesus entered the world of social media and was posting what was on His mind.
A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a sinner if there ever was one.
He wanted to see who Jesus was, but due to circumstances it was hard to get close; so he went out of his way to FaceBook stalk Jesus. He just HAD to see what He was about.
So he clicked some posts and commented tons to see what He had to say.
When Jesus noticed his emoji reaction to His post, He tagged him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”
So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
All the people saw this and began to comment and tag each other, “He has gone to be the guest of a `sinner.'”
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
The son of man came to seek and save what was lost. He did not come to argue politics. He did not come to condemn. He did not come to belittle or offend with witty memes. He did not come to change minds on hot button issues. He came to gather, and in that, seek and save what was lost. Something about how and what Jesus said attracted Zaccheus. Surely Jesus’ reputation even preceded Him and Zaccheus found that intriguing too. Have you met your Zaccheus?
Pray With Me
Lord, I pray that I would use what I know of you and the tools at my disposal (such as social media) to gather not only with my brothers and sisters in you but also with those who don’t know you yet – to build up, encourage and spread hope. There is a time and place for other things, but it’s very rarely on social media. Help me to shine your light and not run from the difficult or uncomfortable. In Jesus’ name, amen.