How to be Christian on Facebook
by Laura Singleton
This weekend, hubby & I went to a conference where a speaker made an offhand comment: “We’ve heard lots of sermons on how to be Christian in the world. I’d like some on how to be Christian on Facebook.” It’s been a while since I wrote on the topic, so I took that as a prompt. Here are some thoughts.
We’re Christ’s witnesses and ambassadors all the time. We don’t get days off, we don’t take time-outs. We carry around his name wherever we go, and everything we do is a reflects on him. This is especially true on Facebook, where a huge variety of people know a lot about us. If your friend list is like mine, you’ve got people from every political group, every sexual preference, every age group, every ethnicity, and every religion watching you and interpreting your God through you. This is a great opportunity, but also a great responsibility. On facebook, with a click of the ‘like’ or ‘share’ buttons, it’s easy to call things good that he calls evil. In a self-pitying moment, we can post ideas that aren’t true, that we’d disagree with after prayer or remembering scripture. In proud moments, we usurp God’s glory for ourselves. Trying to look witty or clever, we can present people or events or ourselves differently than God sees them. Other people have this license, but we have been bought by a price and are not our own…even when we’re on Facebook.
Second, we need to honor other people. Obviously, as we’ve all hear a million times, this includes thinking about how the people involved will react to our post. “Rescue me from my date with this loser,” or “My jerk boss tanked our pitch,” might get you some cheap sympathy, but the world is small now, and that date’s future spouse or your boss’s kids–not to mention your boss–might see that post one day. Before you post that update, do a gut check. Is it gossip? Will it shame the person (or people who know that person)? Will your self-deprecating story embarrass your spouse or kids? Are you spilling the beans before your friend is ready to announce her big news? Will it tempt a weaker brother to violate his conscience? If it’s not honoring, rethink it.
Honor others by remembering they’re “Imago Dei”, made in the Image of God. It’s easy to think of your fb audience as a “crowd”, rather than of individuals made in the Image of God, each with their own story of pain and joy and fear and hope. Social media makes it easy to objectify people sexually with an inappropriate photo, video or comment. But we turn people into objects whenever we see them as something for our use and benefit instead of people with whom we have relationships. This can be as simple as sending your game requests to acquaintances because you don’t want to burn bridges with your “real friends” or flirting with your now-married ex-boyfriend because you had a fight with your current boyfriend. We also turn people into faceless objects when enter into heated debates over politics, religion, abortion, homosexuality, sports, whatever. We want to be right and smart and witty, but the people we’re calling names (and the hundreds or even thousands of people who will read the discussion thread over time) are made in the image of God, too. When those who claim Christ’s name don’t honor people, we become speed bumps on others’ journey to Him…
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