What would Jesus do with social media?
By AL EARLEY
To look at this I want to start with a quick look at Roman Roads. Roman road construction started around 300 BC. At the peak of the Roman Empire, there were over 250,000 miles of roads connecting the provinces to Rome. A fifth of all roads were paved in stone, many of which still exist today. Sometimes they provide the road bed for today’s modern roads. The roads made trade and travel much easier, but they were designed for military use. They allowed the Roman military to move large armies at land speeds that would not be matched until the car was invented 2000 years later.
Now to the question of the day, and my answer is that Jesus would find a way to use social media to glorify God and advance the Kingdom of God. First, he would know that there are serious limitations to social media as a tool for communication. It is a terrible way to share controversial topics, like politics. People post inflammatory items about their political point of view that they would never do with their “friends” face-to-face. I have never understood why people will share controversial information in this way. I cannot see the face of the people who are reading my post, or even have any idea who is reading it, and who is not. Quite often these people get really upset when someone doesn’t agree with their very controversial point of view. Jesus would see no point in this kind of communication, and I think I could make a strong case that his followers should avoid participating in social media in this way. Loving our neighbor as ourselves is a good place to start as guidance from Jesus on how to use social media in a Christian way (Mark 12:31).
Now back to the Roman Roads. Though the Romans used them to keep the Roman peace, God used those same roads to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Within 30 years after Jesus’ ascension into heaven his church had spread all over the Roman empire. At any other time in history this would have been unheard of. The ability of the apostle Paul to go on at least four long missionary journeys (as recorded in the book of Acts), covering over 10,000 miles, was a miracle all its own. Many of the people who came to faith in Christ through Paul’s preaching and teaching took the Gospel even further through the Roman empire.
I think social media is the modern version of the ancient Roman roads. Though it is designed for many uses, some of those less than moral, Jesus would invite us to creatively find ways to use it to spread the Gospel. Jesus prepared his disciples for ministry by saying, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). I think we can interpret Jesus’ teaching to his disciples as helpful here for us. As disciples, challenged to live holy and righteous lives, we feel like sheep amongst wolves at times in our fallen world. At the same time, we are not to withdraw from the challenge of impacting the world with the light of Christ, but shrewdly look at the resources available to us, and use those resources, in good ethical ways, to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The things that I think are key to a Christian use of social media include being positive whenever you can, be silent when you can’t, and remember no one has changed their mind after reading something on social media (just consider your own opinions as proof of this last statement). When you post information let it be inspiring, encouraging, and positive. If you wouldn’t say it to a friend’s face who disagrees with you, then don’t post it.
What guidelines do you use to decide whether to post something on social media or not? Do those guidelines reflect love for the people who may read what you post? Are they always inspiring, encouraging, and positive? Does the post reflect the love Christ has for us, and therefore show love for our neighbor? To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles see, www.lagrangepres.com.