One of the places as Christians we can be least intentional with our witness is Social Media. It’s easy to forget that when God asks for all parts of our life to glorify Him, He even means our online interactions. Although it’s easy to write this off as a meaningless issue, it’s important to remember the average person spends 2 hours and 15 minutes daily on social media! This has become a primary mode of interaction for much of our society, for better or worse.
As I have been processing how I can be a better witness of Christ, I have come up with some guidelines(still a work in progress for me!) that have been helpful in my interactions:
1. Is what I’m posting “full of grace, seasoned with salt”?
It’s crazy how I can forget that what I am about to post can be seen by the whole world, forever! Does this what I’m about to post or reply to someone pass this test of Colossians? It’s so simple, yet would help filter out many things that don’t need to be said!
2. If it’s personal, go offline
Or as Jesus would say it, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you.” Not, “if a friend makes you mad, post something to him that his friends, mom, girlfriend, Aunt’s ex-boyfriend, and 6th grade science teacher can see”… But seriously, what if Christians were the first one to suggest moving difficult conversations to a private chat or, even better, an in person conversation? I would bet many relationships would be healthier!
3. Engage like that person is right in front of me
The post I am replying to is not an “it”, it’s a post by someone made in the image of God. Sometimes we forget basic rules of engagement. If it’s someone we know, greet them! And If it’s someone we don’t know, it’s probably best to not say anything. Would I walk up to a stranger in public and give my opinion on what they’re doing? “Hey there stranger, why don’t your clothes match?”
And if there is an absolute need to say something, which this bar is VERY HIGH, guideline #1 should be followed very very closely.
4. Be “slow to speak, quick to listen”
If something could be controversial, what if I typed it out and then prayed about it? Or, I could show it someone I trust and ask their opinion. This applies even more so when it is a reply to someone else. Also, before replying to anything there are two good questions to ask: “did I read the whole thing?” and “what can I learn from this?”
5. Check the motivation
A good question to ask is “why I am posting this?” I’m sure the answers we would get aren’t always the ones we would want. Oftentimes it’s to make ourselves seem smarter, to be combative, to tear someone else down. Maybe it’s so someone will think my life is better than it actually is, or to create envy.
There are plenty of good reasons to post something or write to someone, but our motivation should always be love because, as Paul so eloquently writes, “words without love are worthless noise.”
These are just 5 guidelines that have been helpful for me as I am in process of following the Jesus Way! For some there are other guidelines needed, for others disengagement from social media is the healthiest response. For all of us, Paul in 2 Corinthians states that through us God spreads everywhere “the fragrance of the knowledge of Him” and that we are “the sweet aroma of Christ.” Whether online or in person, let our interactions be infused with the smell of Christ!