If social media were a show, it’d be like the recent Netflix documentary Tiger King – which I may or may not have watched. It starts out funny, entertaining, and enjoyable. And then slowly becomes less funny and more alarming. Less entertaining and more hostile. Less enjoyable and more heated. Before you know it, it’s gotten so bad that you can hardly believe what you are watching.
There are some great parts to social media, and yet, we all know the not so great parts. Whether it’s conspiracy theories, political jabs, or pandemic advice, social media quickly becomes less funny and more alarming. No longer a place to build relationships but to reinforce divisions. No longer a place to stay connected with each other but to criticize and even condemn each other. Opinions shared, lines drawn, accusations thrown, and people alienated. Less social media and more social marring.
I was going to give you 5 tips on social media etiquette – about being kind, being winsome, not being antagonist or gullible, and representing Jesus well. But you can find that anywhere. And really you could come up with those things yourself.
Instead let’s approach being a Christian on social media a different way. I don’t want to tell you how to behave on social media. Instead, I want you to see that how you act on social media actually says something about you. To put it another way, this isn’t an instructional approach but a reflective approach. An approach where you pause, take a step back, and see social media not as a platform for your voice but as a window into your heart.
In Matthew 12:34 Jesus said: “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Simply put, everything you say – or post – is connected to something in your heart. And there is nothing you say or post that isn’t connected to your heart. This means your activity on social media is more revealing about you than you may realize. It’s easy to think of social media as a place you pretend, but what if it’s the opposite? What if it’s a place that doesn’t hide the truth about you but reveals it? It may or may not show your true happiness, but it will eventually show your true heart.
There is wisdom in taking inventory of your recent posts, shares, and comments. There is humility in asking questions about the connection of those to your heart.
- When you post a conspiracy theory, what kind of fear is growing in your heart?
- When you dismiss a political viewpoint, what kind of critical spirit resides within you?
- When you take shots at someone’s character, what kind of malice lurks beneath the surface?
- When you ignore a friend, what sort of apathy is present in you?
None of us really likes asking those questions or reflecting on the answers. It could be more alarming than anything else. It might get to the place that you can’t believe what’s within you. But there is something powerful that happens in your asking and reflecting, and that is a drawing to Jesus. As you recognize the ugliness within you, the more you will be drawn to the beauty within him.
For he is the only one whose heart is different. He never got wrapped up in conspiracy theories. He never ignored a friend in need. He never took shots at someone’s character or pandemic advice. The abundance of his heart isn’t malice but grace; it isn’t criticism but compassion; it isn’t fear but trust; and it isn’t apathy but love.
Ultimately, the abundance of his heart led Jesus to the cross. A place where he was socially marred – and more – for us. Which means, when you come to him, you will be met with words of grace, assurances of forgiveness, and a power to make your heart new. Through it all, you will become more like him, and hopefully use social media to point more people to him, the King of Kings.
Written by Mike Holwerda, CCC’s Associate Pastor of Vision and Strategy