#TweetLikeJesus: Social Media in the Church

This is the sixth 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.”

Human Purpose in the Church

For our purpose, we can look back to the description of Jesus we found in Philippians 2. In the broader context, Paul writes (2:3-16):

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

A Banner Over Us

These words should fly as a banner over our whole life—social media use included. Our social media should be governed by “the mind of Christ.”

What we Tweet, Snapchat, post to Instagram and Facebook, watch or produce for YouTube—all of it should be done, not looking only to our own interests, but also to the interest of others.

We should forsake seeking our own glory and beauty. Instead, we should take on the form of slaves, obedient servants, who are willing to suffer the loss of reputation, comfort, and life itself to display the glory of God the Father.

Communication in the Church

This, of course, has application to our communication. We should do all things—social media included—without grumbling or disputing. In communicating in ways that are different than the world, we shine as lights in the world.

We find an example of this in the letters—forms of communication—written in the New Testament. These letters speak in all the different ways that Jesus did; they:

— speak the truth (1 Timothy 2:7)
— promote health and healing (1 Timothy 5:3)
— oppose demons (1 Timothy 4:1-6)
— honor and defend the oppressed (James 2:15-17)
— teach (all of them!)
— offer rest to the weary (Hebrews 4)
— extend forgiveness (2 Timothy 4:16)
— bless (Romans 1:7)

Like Jesus, sometimes it is very startling. These letters also:

— call people names (Galatians 3:1)
— correct (1 Corinthians 11:17-34)
— rebuke (Titus 1:13)
— curse (Galatians 1:9)
— confuse (2 Peter 3:16)
— refuse to speak (3 John 13)

All of this is example and instruction for those with ears to hear of what it means to speak as those being remade in the image of Christ.

Technology in the Church

The closest we get to “social media” in the New Testament is the letter—papyrus or parchment and ink. This is especially true of circulatory letters, a first-century “blog post.”

Two almost identical verses speak in a way especially applicable to social media as we know it. The Apostle John writes:

3 John 13-14— I had much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink.  I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.

2 John 12 — Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.

In both these John says that he has much more he wants to say, but he doesn’t want to use paper and ink. He’s only writing because circumstances force him to be apart from them (cf 1 Timothy 3:14-15). We could say today, “I would rather not write with keyboard and screen, with direct messages and texts. I hope to see you soon and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.” 

Serve God, Serving People

These verses remind us that our purpose is to glorify God, in part, by loving our neighbor as Christ loved us. Christ did not come to earth via letter or Tweet or Instagram picture or text message. He came in person—in the flesh. And even though he is gone, he is coming again to take us to be with him in person (John 14:3).

Use social media to glorify God by serving people, not to replace or avoid people. Practice a preference for face-to-face. People matter more than technology. People are more important than being published. People are more important than a platform. Platform and publishing are not inherently evil. They are good developments, the application of science to practical living. But they are not the end. Platform and publishing are good, they glorify God when we use them to serve the good of people.

Subscribe to receive the final installment in the series—Social Media in the New Heavens and New Earth.

Have you entered this month’s giveaway?