I’m a bit of a social media junkie (the first step is admitting right?). Okay, maybe more than just a bit. It encompasses everything I, really we, do. Business, church and daily life is consumed in social media. Businesses use it to market, churches use it to encourage and people use it reflect, encourage, consume and learn…and I love it. Social media has allowed everyone to have a platform. This isn’t always a good thing, but it has given the church a tremendous opportunity to grow. Every member is now a minister and able to reach out and touch the digital lives of millions with the touch of a button, but this is not always a good thing.
We’re not perfect and the internet doesn’t change that, in fact, it often highlights and puts permanence on our imperfections. The fact is, there are times when Christians should step far away from the computer and go somewhere else. Here are three times when Christians should not use social media.
When You Can’t Say Anything Nice
We learned this one as kids: “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” You remember that phrase right? It’s the one we completely ignore once we open up our internet browsers. Perhaps it’s time we started plastering the phrase across the top of our desktops. As a Christian chances are that you 1) have non-Christian friends online and 2) that you post Christian things that your non-Christian friends see all the time. Yet, they don’t go out of their way to blast you for your faith. As Christians we ought to return that kindness by not publicly blasting them for their “paganism.” Peter writes his first letter to Christians who are suffering verbal and physical persecution (2:12, 3:16, 4:4, 14). How were they supposed to respond? With unity, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart and humility among other things (3:8-12). Christians, if you can’t say anything nice keep it off the internet.
When You’re Having a Bad Day
No one is immune to bad days. They happen to everyone, even those that are living life joyfully in Christ. Yes, we should be joyful on our way towards heaven, but there are some days where everything seems to go wrong. Soap gets in our eyes, our cars break down and our children doodle murals on the walls. Bad days happen to everyone, but they don’t need to be heard by everyone. I’m not saying we ought to hide our emotions, or that we shouldn’t ask for prayer (James 5:16). Openness and accountability is part of what makes Christianity so special. However, saying “this is the worst day of my life, ever” is something that should be said to a close friend, not your entire Facebook friends list. If you’re having a bad day, ask for prayer, and take the details off of social media and keep them to yourself.
When You’re Posts Start Fires, but Don’t Strengthen Faith
If you are met with rage, anger, and argumentation every time you post, you either need to a) get a new friends list or b) realize that you have an addiction to starting fires, not strengthening faith. I get it, you’re posting an article on the “Evils of Such-and-Such Denomination” to strengthen the faith of those who believe in the truth. Only you’re not. You starting fights with strangers. Perhaps you’re thinking that this hard-hitting article will shatter the faith of another and bring them to the light, but we have to remember that the people on the other side of that screen are people, who have beliefs and feelings. That aggressive article did nothing more than anger and offend them. Starting internet fires does Christianity no good and oftentimes does a lot of harm. We’ve got to be careful about what we post. As Christians we should want everyone to come to us when they want to learn and be encouraged. If our friends know us as the hot-headed Christian we’ve failed (2 Timothy 2:23-25).
There is more that we could’ve said, but this is a good starting point. If we have trouble saying nice things, are having a bad day, or are looking to quarrel and not convert we ought to stay off of social media until we get back in our right frame of mind. Seeking and saving the lost is the end goal and we have a tremendous digital mission field before us. Let’s not scare those lost souls away by posting things online when we shouldn’t have even been on in the first place.