Ever since COVID-19 hit activity on social media has skyrocketed. Pair that with the emotionally charged events that have been taking place these past two weeks, and now we are really off to the races. So I think it is important that we take some time to think about some Biblical guidelines that should inform how we as Christians interact on social media.
Here are a few scriptures to consider
Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit. (Pro 12:17 ESV)
There is so much fake news going around that is being created to further fuel divisions. This past week I heard that City Hall was on fire (it wasn’t), the Lincoln Memorial had been defaced (it hadn’t) and that Donald Trump pointed a gun at a reporter (He didn’t). Before you post something, repost, retweet, etc… Check your facts. Google it and see if it’s true. God is the God of truth and so as His followers, we should never want to be party to promoting falsehood.
No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us (1Jo 4:12 ESV)
A question I need to ask myself before I interact on social media, “Is this going to show the love of God?” We have no higher call then love. Even in our call to speak the truth, we are called to speak the truth in love. If love is not part of what we are doing, then we need to stop what we are doing. If we need to vent, rant or be emotionally raw, we should talk to a trusted friend. The whole world doesn’t need to be brought into our emotional state. And if we are just hitting people with truth, but do not have love in our hearts, then God doesn’t want that truth to come out. We need to take seriously the command from 1 Corinthians 16:14, “Let all that you do be done in love.”
If you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. (Gal 5:13-15 ESV)
Nothing is a worse witness to the world then Christians fighting among ourselves. There is a place for good and healthy debate. I love going back and forth and arguing for what I think is right. However, debating ideas is different than attacking a person. So for example, while I might disagree with someone’s political thoughts, that should not change my opinion of them as a person. I might engage them in debate, but I should do so not seeking to tear them down. Only the Enemy wins if we win a debate, but bite and devour one another in the process. I also think this means that if someone comments on my post and attacks one of my brothers or sisters, then it is my responsibility to defend them. Even if I disagree with the point my brother or sister is making, if they are being attacked as a person, I don’t want to participate in them being “bitten” or “devoured” by not speaking up in their defense.
The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him. (Pro 18:17 ESV)
It is very easy on social media to get stuck listening to only one side of the story and the echo chamber of your own preconceived ideas. You’ve got conservative news like Fox, or One America and then you have the more left leaning like CNN, or Huffingtonpost. Each gives their side based on their agenda. If we are only listening to one side, then we are not getting all the information and being positioned to think for ourselves. As Christians we should not cater to our own preconditioned biases (that we never admit we have) and not look at things from a different perspective. As Christians, we should be open to listening to all sides, carefully weighing and considering what is being said with God’s word as our only infallible authority.
In closing, I was provoked by these questions by Paul Tripp and I think they are good for all of us to think through:
What is your talk like on social media? How helpful is it to others? How much of it is motivated by love and grace and joy and patience and faithfulness and mercy? How much of it is outside of those standards? How much have you allowed yourself to be part of the outrage culture? How about wanting your communication to build people, to encourage people, to motivate them to do what is good, to let them know that they’re loved and not alone? This powerful tool for good can be a powerful tool for evil. How are you using this tool?- Paul Tripp
I pray that we would use the tool of social media powerfully to promote God’s kingdom of love and justice in Christ.
Grace and peace,