The Christian & Social Media

Social Media Apps

We spend more time on social media than we want to admit. Because of that, it’s worth asking, “How does my faith in Christ influence what I post online?”

First, let me be clear: not everything in social media needs to be serious. Have fun. Post silly pictures. Share funny stories. But in the midst of the silliness, shouldn’t we still be thoughtful about how we are reflecting Christ online?

The following is a short set a questions that has been helpful for me based off Micah 6:8, which says, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Does it promote justice and kindness?

  • Is this post honest about life, or is it an edited version that I want to show people in an effort to look awesome? Is this post reflecting the “American Dream” or the life of Christ?
  • Does this post reflect God’s Word and what He has said about mercy, justice, love and godliness? Or does this reflect false expectations about how the world talks about those things?
  • Am I genuinely seeking to make people aware of injustice, or am I hopping on the latest bandwagon? Is this a real case on injustice, or has someone simply been offended? There’s a difference between being offended and suffering injustice.
  • Is this post written in a way that is thoughtful and will not cause unnecessary offense? Sometimes in our efforts to raise awareness or add commentary, the way in which we say things is so thoughtless our actual point gets overshadowed.

Does it reflect humility?

  • Am I being self-promoting right now? As a blogger this one is tricky, because I want people to read what I write, but I need to be writing it in order to help people (not in order to make a name for myself).
  • Am I only thinking about people who are like me, or am I posting this with those who are different from me in mind? If someone voices disagreement (even if it’s over an issue I care deeply about), will I immediately get defensive or aggressive, or will I honestly consider their viewpoint?
  • If I’m posting something that may be offensive to some, am I sharing this because it is truly worth the possible offense or backlash?
  • Can you experience something great or something terrible without posting about it? If your first though is, “I need to share this,” then you may need to dig deeper into Christ-exalting humility.

Does it help people walk faithfully with God?

  • Does your post direct people towards the good news of Jesus Christ? If our lives should point to Christ, then shouldn’t our online profiles?
  • Is your social media filled with complaints, gripes, and rants? Or is it full of posts that highlight everything amazing about your life? Both of these extremes drive people away from worship (because either God is faithless to his children, or your life is so amazing you simply don’t need him). There is glorious hope in the daily grind of living for Christ.
  • Are you posting so frequently about controversial topics that you’ve become a “social justice warrior” rather than an evangelist? If you constantly blast people with certain political/justice issues then they will not listen when you speak about Jesus… you will be tuned out.
  • If someone scanned through your social media posts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), would they see someone whose life reflects Christ? This doesn’t mean you only and always share Christian-themed posts, but it does mean your profiles display the joys and trials (and the normalcy) of someone who is following Christ.

Again, don’t allow these questions to lead you to think social media needs to be all serious. It doesn’t, and it shouldn’t be. And yet, I hope these three main questions help you evaluate whether or not your social media platforms need to be recalibrated.

If there are other guidelines you frequently use to determine whether or not to share something online, please leave them in the comments below. 

What is the Fear of the LORD?

What is the fear of the LORD? This is something many of us have heard about in church or read in the Bible, but it remains an abstract thought that we can’t clearly explain.

If “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7), then it’s an important thing for us to understand what that means. Easton’s Bible Dictionary describes the fear of the LORD this way,

It is a fear conjoined with love and hope, and is therefore not a slavish dread,
but rather filial reverence.”
(Easton Bible Dictionary)

So it’s not a fearful dread that creates distance. Instead, it’s a fear build on love and hope that draws near to God in worship, humility, and obedience. These are the three keys to understanding what the Bible means by “the fear of the LORD.”

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Every Christian Has Baggage

In fact, not only does every Christian have baggage… every Christian NEEDS baggage! You simply cannot be a Christian if you are unaware of the skeletons in your closet. Maybe your baggage isn’t severe, you’ve never been to jail… but every Christian need to be aware of their own sin and great need for God.

Some people say that Christianity is only for the weak. They’re right! If you think you have your act together and that you don’t need to be forgiven, you don’t need mercy or grace, and you don’t need God’s strength to make you strong… then you may call yourself what you want, but you cannot truly be a Christian.

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Suffering Will Harden or Humble You

I found out last night that one of my neighbors has cancer. He’s going through Chemo-therapy and it sounds like the doctors are hopeful, but your prayers for him are appreciated. I’d rather not share his name, but if you pray for Pastor Mike’s neighbor then I’m pretty sure God will know who you’re talking about 🙂

That conversation made me think about how suffering can either harden your heart or humble you. The great lie, especially for a man who’s still “in his prime,” is that we are in control. Suffering pulls the mask off our weakness so that our weakness is clearly visible to everyone, ourselves included.

What do you do when confronted with the reality of your weakness and lack-of-control? 

Do you shake your fist at God and say “How dare you!” Do you look through your tears and say “Why me?” I’m guessing it’s probably some combination of the two.

But in the midst of the hard questions that you may never have answered, are you able to say, “God, I don’t understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing this, but I trust you and I need you to be my strength?”

Ultimately, Christian suffering finds its hope and meaning through the cross of Jesus Christ. 

He who was innocent (Jesus) suffered for those who were guilty (you and me). We have hope because Jesus not only died, but conquered death.

If Jesus suffered, why do we think we won’t? Do we think a life of comfort is more appealing than a life spent following Christ?

The Christian trusts God’s control, not his own.

We don’t know all the answers. We know some… and we have partial answers to others. But we simply cannot explain why God does some of the things he does. What we do know is that he is good and we can trust him.

The humble heart does not cry out for God to follow our rules, as if God owes us something.

Lament, mourn, and cry out to God with your hard questions. God is not afraid of being challenged by you. He is not intimidated by your shaking fists. You are allowed to question him.

But remember your place. I recently read through the book of Job, where God finally responds to Job’s pleads for an explanation over his suffering (Job 40:7-14):

Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm:

7 “Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.

8 “Would you discredit my justice?
Would you condemn me to justify yourself?
9 Do you have an arm like God’s,
and can your voice thunder like his?
10 Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor,
and clothe yourself in honor and majesty.
11 Unleash the fury of your wrath,
look at all who are proud and bring them low,
12 look at all who are proud and humble them,
crush the wicked where they stand.
13 Bury them all in the dust together;
shroud their faces in the grave.
14 Then I myself will admit to you
that your own right hand can save you.

Here is my prayer for my neighbor:

Heavenly Father,
     In the midst of my friend’s suffering, be his strength and hope. Make yourself known to him and his family. In this time where death is so near, use this season of weakness and uncertainty to give them eternal life through Jesus Christ. Heal and restore him to health. Guide and bless the doctors and nurses who are caring for him and give them great wisdom and skill as they do their life-sustaining, life-healing work.
Give my friend and his family humble hearts, ones that lean into you when they see their weakness. Give them courage and honesty to give voice to their doubts and their questions, and guide them to your Scriptures as the fountain of Truth. And open for me a door through which I may be of service.
AMEN

Can the Bible Correct You?

I had a conversation a while ago with a friend who a Christian and is struggling through some difficult doctrines. In the midst of our conversation he said a few things I’ve been thinking about:

1. “I just don’t like it when people have an ‘I’m right and everyone else is wrong’ attitude.”

2. “I just don’t want to believe it.”

Ultimately, I think these comments come down to this question: Will you allow Scripture to correct your thinking. Here’s why I think this is the foundational question.

1. As Christians, we must be people who stand upon God’s revealed Word (the Bible) rather than our own opinions. 

2. When our opinion and God’s Word seem to be at odds, we need to be honest as we dig into Scripture to unveil the original intent (exegesis). Yes, there are cultural differences between our lives today and the culture of the Bible, but we need to be honest and have the integrity to resist merely saying, “Oh, well that was for them, not for us.” We need to honestly examine why it was for them and not for us and dig deeper than “Because that’s how I want it.”

3. When we refuse to believe what the Bible reveals, what we claim to believe about Biblical Authority and what we really believe are at odds with each other. It’s good to affirm the inspiration and authority of Scripture, but if we will not allow God’s Word to correct us then we do not really believe what we think we believe.

4. Truth brings joy. Yes, there are times when it is difficult and painful to believe some things in Scripture, and there are times when I wish I could believe differently because it would be a whole lot easier. But God’s truth brings joy… eventually. Once we see God for who He is and we understand what He has done and what He is doing then even in the midst of the difficulty of faith, we rejoice in who God is and what He has promised.

If you are wrestling with something in Scripture that you do not want to believe… that’s ok. I think we should all be in that position, because it shows that we’re being honest about our beliefs and our preferences and we’re bringing them before God.

A few tips on wrestling with Scripture:

1. Pray. Ask God to increase your faith in Him and not in yourself or in your own preferences. We need to be people who are finally and ultimately devoted to God. We may know that, but are we truly willing to be that kind of person?

2. Interpret Scripture through Scripture. That may sound confusing, but the best way to understand difficult things in the Bible is by understanding what other verses/portions of the Bible have to say about that same thing. Interpret what is obscure or unclear through what is consistently and clearly taught. This also means we should interpret the Old Testament through the lens of the New Testament (but that’s a whole other blog post for another day).

3. Dig Dig Dig. God gave you a brain, he wants you to use it. Study, research, and read what has been written. There are many sites online that provide free Bible Study tools (crosswalk.com is probably the most well known; GotAnswers.com has great Q&A type of articles too).

4. Don’t think you’re alone. You are not the first person to ask the question your asking or to study the passage you’re studying. Read what others have written, but also talk to other Christians about this. Maybe they’re wondering the same thing but think they’re alone… study it together.

5. Finally, have faith. There are some things we will simply never fully understand because we aren’t meant to. That’s not an excuse to avoid intelligently pursuing truth. Instead, it’s a call to remember that God is infinite and you are finite. God is mysterious, but He has made Himself known… in part. If you think you can explain everything about who God is and what He has done (and will do) then either your wisdom is infinite or you have made God finite. There comes a point where you may need to humbly say, “I don’t know everything I want to know, but I know enough to confidently trust God.”

One of the greatest ways we can honor God is by trusting Him when we don’t want to.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Hebrews 11:1

Tell Yourself the Truth (About Yourself)

Lies are dangerous.  But the most dangerous of all are the ones you tell yourself.

It takes courage to tell yourself the truth about yourself.  It takes greater courage to tell the truth about yourself to a trusted friend in order to seek help to change those things that need changing.  Sometimes, we also need someone else to watch our back to make sure we keep the good and healthy parts what makes you “you” going and growing.

When you read Scripture and seek God through prayer and when you experience the kind of biblical fellowship that involves a brother or sister speaking the truth to you in love… will you listen, or will you defend yourself even if it means believing a lie about yourself.

Godliness and humility lead us to being honest about who we really are.  When we talk about “Speaking the truth in love” we usually think about speaking the truth to someone else in love.  But make sure you’re speaking the truth to yourself in love too.