The Blessings and Dangers of Social Media
The Church has always been on the forefront of utilizing technological advances to spread the Gospel.
The Apostle Paul began writing on parchments to advance the gospel. Martin Luther utilized the printing press to get the Word of God out to as many people as possible. Churches began to use audio tapes and CDs to get God’s Word into people’s homes.
Once the internet surfaced many churches began sharing the gospel in new and creative ways.
It is clear that social media is now the new platform for this generation. Facebook. Instagram. Twitter. Wordpress. Squarespace. Youtube. Snapchat. Periscope. And all the other countless social media outlets.
As Christians we must always be thinking as missionaries. Whenever it comes to anything with culture we must think about how we can contextualize and redeem it for the sake of the Gospel.
And to reach this generation, social media must be redeemed and used for to its fullest potential.
It is important to understand that social media is not inherently evil, it is morally neutral. In fact, all technology is morally neutral.
However, people are not. People are bent towards sin. We are bent towards selfishness and idolatry.
This is why I wanted to write this post. To shed light both on the blessings and dangers of social media. While it can be greatly used to spread His name it can also be used as a means for self-promotion and idolatry.
Below are some of the things I constantly remind myself and wrestle with as I try redeeming social media for the gospel.
1. Spread His Name not Your Name
“He must increase and I must decrease” -John 3:30.
As sinners, we will be tempted to promote ourselves. We will be tempted to spread the name of self over the name of Jesus. As Christians we have to be very careful and attentive to our hearts.
If we are not watchful of our own hearts, social media can become a place where we build a name platform for ourselves.
But as Christians our ultimate purpose is God’s glory, God’s name, and God’s fame. We must redeem social media by spreading the name of Jesus.
Social media is a tremendous tool that can be used to advance God’s Kingdom. We can literally share the gospel to tens, hundreds and thousands of people through one post.
2. Use Social Media to Build People Up not Tear People Down.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” ^Ephesians 4:29.
Social media has given every single person a voice. An opinion and something to say. As Christians we are called to build people up and not tear people down.
Some of the most judge-mental, self-centered, arrogant comments I have ever read on social media are by Christians.
Christians, God is going to keep us accountable for every careless word we say. Social media has given us an outlet to say anything, to anyone, at anytime. While this can be a tremendous blessing, it can also shame the name of Christ if we are not careful with what we say.
3. Stop Comparing and Competing with Others through Social Media
“Am I now still trying to please man? For if I was I would not longer be a servant of Christ” -Galatians 1:10.
We are constantly comparing ourselves with other people. Why? Because we are trying to find our value and worth in something other than Christ.
In comparing ourselves, we are measuring our worth. And social media has become an outlet for constant comparison.
I’m a youth pastor. I have students who are jealous of other students who get more 'likes.' Jealous of students who have more 'followers.' Constantly comparing themselves with others because what they see on social media. This is a dangerous thing.
As Christians, when we see others doing well, advancing God’s Kingdom, and growing in their calling, we must rejoice. Instead of comparing and measuring ourselves with others, we ought to be secure in Christ. And only when we are secure in Christ, can we then rejoice when others are doing well.
4. Get off Social Media if You Find Yourself Addicted
"All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything" -1 Corinthians 6:12
Social media can become a literal addiction. According to the National Institutes of Health, internet and social media addictions can ruin people's lives by causing neurological complications, psychological disturbances, and social problems.
Furthermore, according to several recent brain imagining studies, people who are addicted to the social media, "show structural and functional brain abnormalities similar to those found in people with substance abuse problems."
With that being said, it is important to remember that social media in itself is not sinful or wrong, but we sinners can turn anything into an idol.
As research has proven to show, this generation idolizes, worships and in many ways are addicted to social media more than we care to admit.
If you find yourself stuck to your phone, to your computer, constantly checking and worrying about your social media posts, chances are you are addicted to social media.
If that's you it is a wise thing to set boundaries. Take an extended break off of social media or quit it entirely.
As Christians we must not be addicted, controlled or mastered by anything other than for Jesus Christ.
If I am to be completely honest, I have had my share of struggles with social media.
There was a time where I almost went off social media completely so I won’t be tempted promote myself. So that I won’t fall into sin.
I recently closed my personal Facebook account permanently so I won’t be distracted in my pursuit of God. I have had extended periods of time where I unplugged myself completely from all media outlets so I could focus on God and my calling.
I think everyone has to discern their own hearts and hear what the Lord is saying to the individual regarding boundaries and the usage of social media.
Recently I have been trying to really focus all my social media outlets to reach and bless people. I see the immense tool social media could be for the gospel but also see how self-consumed and sinful I can be.
I pray that God would use social media to reach people who otherwise would never have heard of Jesus. I pray that every Christian would promote Jesus all the days of their life. I pray that our presence on the media would be one of love and humility for a world who needs to know our Lord.
God be glorified in all things!