The Struggle is Real
As I write blogs I often find myself doing a reality check to ensure that what I’m writing actually portrays who I am. I feel a tremendous responsibility to be authentic and genuine in the things I write, striving to point others to Christ as the ultimate satisfaction and fulfillment for life and godliness; but sometimes it’s tempting to try to look smarter, wiser, and more spiritual than I actually am as I write from behind my computer. I’d be lying if I said I never idolized having the appearance of “super spirituality” at one point in my life. As a pastor’s wife I’ve felt an unspoken expectation to possess a certain level of wisdom and biblical knowledge — an expectation placed upon me by no one except my own insecurities. In His kindness, the Lord revealed to me that I cared more about impressing others than I did about pleasing Him, and I now aim to evaluate my blogs and other social media posts to make sure that what I write brings glory to Christ but also actually represents who I am: A depraved sinner saved by the grace of God.
“Preach” What You Live, Live What You “Preach”
This battle I’ve fought in my own life has caused me to consider how each of us can almost effortlessly pretend to be something we’re not when we’re online, particularly on social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The Internet allows us to be anything we want to be… or to at least appear the way we want to be. While it’s important to evaluate our words before posting them for the world to see, it’s just as important to make sure we’re living out in person what we claim to be on social media. In 2 Timothy 3:5, Paul warns Timothy to beware of those who have the appearance of godliness, but deny its power. In our day, there’s no easier place to do just that than on the Internet. We must consistently assess whether we are sincerely placing our trust in the power of God or whether we are simply saying the “right” things in order to glorify ourselves.
Not only can we create a fraudulent persona on social media, but, on the other end of the spectrum, we can completely disregard the holy life to which God has called us. In Ephesians 4:1-2, Paul urges believers to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” But sadly, social media tends to “dehumanize” people, which can lead us to act in ways that completely contradict these verses, exhibiting arrogance, harshness, impatience, and a completely unloving demeanor, talking about people and to people in ways we would never speak to them in face-to-face conversations. Suddenly, living souls who have been created in the image of God become just photos on a screen, and we forget that there are actually human beings behind each of those profile pictures.
For instance, Christians have a reputation of harshly and oppressively debating unbelievers over spiritual matters and social justice issues on social media. Some believers post insulting memes, derisive political statements, and other graceless propaganda aimed at certain people groups. Does this make Christ look attractive? Is this how we are to win people to the Lord?
In other cases, professing Christians have mocked, ridiculed, and condemned people, showing hatred toward individuals, businesses, and other groups, often times judging a situation based on very little or no knowledge of it. (And we think the news media is bad?!) Does this hate-speak help our testimonies as Christians? Is this attitude drawing others to Christ?
In his devotional book, New Morning Mercies, Paul Tripp points out that “when you forget the grace that you’ve been given, it becomes very easy to respond to the people around you with nongrace. […] It is very clear that no one gives grace better than a person who is deeply convinced of his own need of it and who is cogently aware of the grace he has been, and is being, given.” Indeed, as recipients of God’s grace, we should be the most gracious people of all!
The Bottom Line
Sitting behind a computer screen gives us gumption — gumption to appear godly, even when our lives don’t reflect it and gumption to neglect loving others, even though God’s Word demands it. At times gumption can be a good thing, but in the case of social media it’s often devastating: Devastating to our testimonies and to the people with whom we’re communicating online.
As professing Christians, we greatly misrepresent Christ and His gospel when we neglect the standard to which God’s Word holds us, both in person and online. If someone is offended, may it not be by our idle words but by God’s inerrant Word that is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
So, Christians, before we post anything to social media sites let’s ask ourselves these three questions:
- What is my motivation?
- What am I trying to achieve?
- Am I desiring to make much of me or much of Christ?
He must increase. We must decrease. Let’s strive to be salt and light in every aspect of our lives, sharing God’s beautiful message of redemption and hope, accomplished through Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection and initiated by God’s amazing grace for sinners like you and me. May we bear in mind that, for some people, the Internet is the only place in which they’ll ever interact with Christians, so let’s show them grace and lead them to the truth, rightly representing Christ in this social media culture.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
2 thoughts on “Truth, Grace, and Love: Rightly Representing Christ in a Social Media Culture”
This is very helpful. I’ve seen even Christians fighting against other Christians. Though they may be sharing truth they share it in a harsh manner without even knowing the person on the other end. I think we should take that in consideration that if we don’t know the other person we should approach the issue with extreme caution.
I didn’t know how to express this. Your blog post was exactly what I was looking to say.
This is so helpful! Thanks for sharing this. I just got through reading Craig Groeschel’s book #Struggles that deals with this very issue of social media. It was really good!