Facebook is going to be used. By Millions of people. By hundreds of thousands of Christians. Everyday. But, are they doing it for the Glory of God? I have to admit, that I do not always use social media to the glory of God. Too often I use it as a distraction from doing more important things. I have known people who deleted their Facebook profile because it was causing them to either fall into temptation or at the very least, they got tired of being distracted by yet one more thing.
While it is certainly acceptable for someone to do that, I do have to wonder: Have they TRIED to use Facebook to the glory of God? It is a tool just like books are a tool. Just like television is a tool. Just like a microphone is a tool. Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” This includes the internet. So, I think it is high time we Christians take serious strides toward putting our use of Facebook under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Even though I previously wrote a blog entry that focused on Facebook Etiquette, it is necessary to mention some things that will ruin any attempt to use Facebook for the glory of God. I give partial credit to Justin Buzzard for his thoughts on the subject. Here are a few bullet points for your consideration:
- Negative status updates. Complaining or venting on Facebook usually just invokes more complaining. After all, misery loves company. But, for people who are tired of whiny individuals, a negative status update can ruin your attempt of sharing the love of Christ with your Facebook friends.
- Pointless status updates. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about: “Hmmm…” That was it. That was the status update. For the love of Slim Pickens, WHY? Or putting up lyrics to a song you like, but not explaining the context to why you are posting it. What is the point in that?
- Gossiping about individuals you know in a general way. For instance: saying, “People need to stop interfering in my life!” when in reality, you’re referring to your parents. Anyone with some common sense can see right through this.
- Taking quizzes and tagging your friends in them. This is okay everyone once in a while, but most grown-ups do not have the time and patience for this stuff. Just don’t be that annoying FB friend, trust me.
- Political or religious messages that infuriate those who disagree. There are tasteful ways to explain what you believe without being obnoxious. Writing “I support the Defense of Marriage Act” for your state on your profile page is fine. Writing “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” as your status update is plain wrong. As Christians our goal should be to persuade, not alienate. And always remember the gospel is to be lifted up above everything else.
Certain folks who hear/read the problems with Facebook as I described above, will throw up there hands and say, “See? That’s why I don’t do Facebook.” But, that sort of knee-jerk reaction to an ever-evolving social technology is unwarranted. If you treat Facebook as an extension of your real life relationships, then it can be tremendously helpful. Presence equals influence. So, if we have more of a presence in the lives of other Christians and non-Christians, by way of Facebook, then it make sense to claim it and use it for the glory of God.
There are several areas that a Christian can use to glorify Christ. Most of it is common sense (or uncommon sense). The key phrase is “be deliberate”. Don’t just mindlessly post stuff. Think about what you are posting and how it furthers the kingdom of God.
Your User Profile
Be deliberate in what you say about yourself. There is a lot that you could do to encourage Christ-centered conversation with a Facebook friend. In your “About Me” section, instead of putting something brief or writing pointless drivel, you could put a part of your testimony. It’s easy for somebody like me because I just mention that I’m a pastor and that’s sometimes enough for people to ask me how in the world I ended up in that profession. Also, the “influences” section can be used to stir up meaningful conversation, as well as activities and interests.
Your Profile Picture
I purposefully put Captain America as my profile pic to stir up conversation with people. Recently I just changed it to a picture of my family. I connected with certain people with the C. America pic and will connect with different people with my new pic.
Your Status Updates
A simple verse of scripture can be uplifting or challenging to someone who reads their news feed. Notice I said “simple.” Quoting massive blocks of scripture is an instant turn off. Even though I’m a pastor, I don’t even read those status updates. A meaningful quote from someone you read or heard that day can also be challenging or uplifting.
Putting up a link to a great video or website. Again, it is not necessary that they all be Christian all the time. I put funny videos up or other videos that showcase my interest so I can connect with people. In doing so, I have connected with people who are completely different from me in so many other ways.
Words of wisdom an other practical advice as long as it doesn’t come off as preachy and it is kept to a reasonable length and frequency can endear people to you. This is especially helpful if you are somewhat of an expert in the area you’re commenting on. It is pleasantly surprising to find out who agrees with you. It may also spark some questions from someone who wants to know more.
Responding to other people’s Status Updates and Profile Pages
There have been several times where someone will post they are worn out or emotionally drained or just need a pick-me-up and a simple “like” or a comment will be sufficiently encouraging. Christians really have a unique opportunity here to make a small, but crucial difference in someone’s life. But, you have to do it. You can’t just think about doing it and the proceed to not do it.
Every so often, I will see a status update from a non-believing friend that seems to directly oppose the gospel or cause people to doubt Christianity or even doubt God’s existence. I see this, not so much as an opportunity to persuade my friend (most likely they are too hardened to the gospel to care), but as an opportunity to give the Biblical response to their statement.
Careful, though. Instigating a fight is not Christian. I know because I’ve been guilty of it. You can’t get personal if you decide you are going to defend the gospel. Remember, the goal is the persuade, not alienate. Keep it focused on the issue, ask a lot of questions, don’t pretend to know more than you do, and keep in mind, if it is a response to a status update, then others can see it, too.
Finally, being deliberate with your time on Facebook includes making sure you are constructive with your time on it and not wasting time. Do you really need to play Farmville for hours on end or answer the eight quizzes you were sent? As helpful as these ideas can be to maximize the time you have on Facebook, personal interaction is always better. Get on Facebook, do what you came there to do, and then get off. Then go hang out with your friends in person. Or hang out with your family. *gasp* There’s a novel thought!