I know some amazing people. Truly. People who love Jesus and take care of their neighbors and support their church. They are in the Word and pray each day and have a constant stream of praise and worship music playing all the time. It inspires me to make sure that the gracious salvation of Jesus Christ is evident in every single part of my life, from the front door of my home to the closets of my heart. In everything.
Which means I need to make sure that my social media stream gets saved.
What is it about our social media life that seems to want to get an excused absence from love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?
Somehow, things we would never say face-to-face in ‘real’ life, opinions we would wisely keep to ourselves, rants that we might rethink in real time, get broadcast for all the world to see from our fingertips to our computers through that big ol’ World Wide Web.
To be frank, it’s the playground of the passive aggressive tendencies in us.
I’ve been spending a fair amount of time teaching and unpacking and exhorting on this topic lately. When I read through some of our social media streams, there seems to be no end to critiquing the theologies of well-known Christian speakers and authors. There’s an endless nit-picking of nuances. Heck, I’ve actually even sat virtual ring side to a church throw down in another community, complete with call outs and debate by people who claim greater spirituality. (I’m sure God is so proud, she said tongue~or keyboard~ in cheek). It’s gotten a little crazy, even more so in this election season, at the level of Christian-generated bullying and diatribe I see getting tossed around. It’s pretty startling to see people I know to be gentle and sweet face-to-face turn into politic shock jocks on the web.
Can I let you in on a little secret? Nobody is changing their mind about who they’re voting for based on someone’s hyper-negative, slightly-paranoid, somewhat-breathless rehash of one candidate or another.
I’m just trying to save your manicure from all that violent typing.
And I’m trying to save us as well from segmenting our Christian walks from our digital ones.
It’s all part and parcel, people.
So let’s take our social media through some steps of salvation, shall we?
Let’s call it WWJT.
Jesus tells us before His ascension, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:32-33, NIV). Sounds like to me that Jesus a. warned us that at times the world would seem fairly wonky and b. that we weren’t to fret because He’s got it. Does my social media stream reflect that truth? Do I type like I believe it? Or do I really think the fate of this nation and world is beyond the power of God? I need to assess my perspective when it comes to what I type and share, careful to make sure that it always reflects my bedrock faith that Jesus has overcome the world and that we are built through His blood for eternity, not trapped in the temporal challenges of this life.
Have you ever run a word search on complaining or grumbling in the Bible? I’ll give you minute. Go to biblegateway.com . I’ve already put ‘grumbling’ in the search box. I’ll wait for you.
Like, God is not all that dazzled with His whiny kids. As in, He seems to not like it much at all.
Just as a sampler, let’s try this one on for size:
“Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered.
(John 6:43, NIV)
And Paul followed up with:
Do everything without grumbling or arguing.
(Philippians 2:14, NIV)
It can be a real temptation to use social media as the counter at the complaint department of life. From bashing the neighbors to divulging every detail of a no-good-very-bad day, we might even find a bit of relief in using the keyboard as the Kleenex of our emotions.
But here’s the deal.
We’ve now sneezed that negativity into the virtual atmosphere. And it seems to germinate wildly in that environment. Somebody cruising by our stream can be having a decent day…and then they come sloshing through our snot-ridden post…and then their day gets infected.
I’m all for processing challenging situations with a good friend. As in singular. And process being the point. In privacy. Getting feedback from a trusted mentor. Going for a run with my running partner and grinding a bad day into the asphalt. But out of love for my fellow mankind, I don’t need to make a contagion out of a contrary day.
3. Pick Your Tribe
Like attracts like.
And unlike attracts unlike.
Do you want to be part of the Spreading the Joy Tribe?
Or the Negative Comments Tribe?
And are you ready to experience that harvest of what you choose to sow?
Bible-based conviction up ahead:
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
(Galatians 6:7, NIV)
I have to ask myself, am I responding to things I find on the web and in people’s social media streams out of a sense of friendship and kindness? Or is it out of a sense of spiritual superiority and pride…which, wait for it, often disguises its cocky opinionated self in the fleshy fleece of so-called ‘concern’ for the other person? And what am I saying about the inner condition of my own heart, based on how I’m spending my time responding?
There’s a Biblical name for that kind of tribe, the Negative Comments Tribe.
They’re called Pharisees.
You may have heard of them.
Seeing as how they were the one group Jesus just couldn’t abide.
If Facebook and blog and Twitter had been a thing back in the early AD Jerusalem days, the Pharisees would have been all over it, with comments on every posting they disagreed with, objected to, were offended by, and didn’t perfectly match their ‘perfect’ theology.
I’d rather be seen as a Pollyanna than a Pharisee.
Make me part of the Joy Tribe any day.
Because I firmly believe it’s WWJT.
So let’s grab those keyboards. Let’s dunk ‘em into the redeeming waters of baptism, making our digital voices match our redeemed ones. For some of us, we may need to literally drown those keyboards, taking a dedicated digital fast to drive out the dissenting demons. And then we can begin each social media session by gazing first on these four letters:
W W J T
You can comment below. But let’s not be ironic, mmmkay?