This is the second post in a multipart series—#TweetLikeJesus: Social Media to the Glory of God. For background on the approach taken, see the first post — “Social Media to the Glory of God.”
The most important question to ask about social media is not “What is Social Media?” or “What should I do or not do on social media?” or questions about platforms and reach and engagement. The most important question is “What is a human being?” How we answer that determines how we live in every area of life.
Human Purpose in Creation
In Genesis 1:26-28, we read of God’s creation of and purpose for human beings:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
The Image and Likeness of God
God created man in his image and likeness to rule over creation. Ruling is the result of being in God’s likeness and image. What does it mean to be made in God’s “image” and “likeness?”
“In our likeness” refers to man’s relationship with God as father. “Likeness” connotes sonship. It is the term that heads Genesis 5, a genealogy of sons born to fathers. Adam is the son of God, made in his likeness (see Luke 3:38). This sonship grants man royal status—as the King was known as the son of God (see Psalm 2:7-9).
“Image” refers to man’s relationship to creation. Image connotes royal kingship. In the ancient Near East, kings would erect images to represent their rule over a realm. (See Daniel 3, where King Nebuchadnezzar erects an image made of solid gold to represent his kingdom (2:38).)
God made man—male and female—as royal children to represent him and rule over creation. The way in which we rule is to display (represent) what God is like. How we act communicates what God is like. The way we treat other human beings (other images of God) communicates what we think of God. Whatever man does—whether eating or drinking or anything else—everything is to be done to display God’s glory.
Communication in Creation
How does being in God’s image inform how we communicate? The answer is simple:
— Communicate with others in a way that displays what God is like.
— Listen to those communicating with us in a way that displays what God is like.
— Choose to communicate or refrain from communicating in a way that reveals what God is like.
The situational application, of course, is much more complicated. It involves (1) knowing what God is like and (2) understanding what words, actions, and manners best reflect him in any given situation.
Speaking the Excellence of God
We only have two chapters of the Bible that tell us what the world was like before sin brought it under a curse. And in those two chapters, we only have one recorded instance of human speech. Genesis 2:23, the man’s words after the creation of the woman:
This, at last, is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.
In this poetic exclamation, what is the man doing? He is speaking truthfully about what God has done. God has created an equal for him, another human being, his own flesh. He is speaking truthfully about the human being he now lives with in community. In short, he is talking in a way that displays the excellence of what God has done. He is glorifying God in human community with his communication.
How does being in God’s image inform how we develop and use technology?
Technology in Creation
We often don’t think of this in relation to creation (because there was, at that point, no technology), but we should! The command to “subdue the earth” essentially means to bring it under our control. (That does not mean to abuse, exploit, or trash it!) It means to make it useful for our purposes.
In that command is the ground for every college major and vocation. The command to subdue and exercise dominion covers everything from engineering to agriculture to animal science to artistic composition to nursing.
We are to become explorers and investigators of the cosmos. Humans are to discover and dissect the stuff of this world. We are to figure out what it does when you put things together. Then we are to use this knowledge to help us in practical ways as we fulfill our mission to rule as God’s representatives.
In this command is the foundation for discovering the elements necessary for social media—electronics and the internet—which must be used in a way that displays God’s glory.
Social Media in Creation
So, what do we learn about social media in the creation account?
1. To be human is to be a representative of God. Our behavior—in word and deed, in person or in virtual, online communities—reflects what we think God is like.
2. Our communication—through any technology, including social media—should be done in a way that displays what God is like. When we engage in social media, it is our way of saying to the world, “Behold, our God!”
3. Technology—including electronics and the internet—are good discoveries and developments in obedience to the command to subdue and exercise dominion.
Social media are opportunities to glorify God. But as we know, social media quite often are anything but God-glorifying.
Why is that? What happened?
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