By Heather Moss
Sharing your faith—it has never been so easy to issue, yet so hard to communicate via social media. With the world at our fingertips we sit behind computer screens consuming information, participating in conversation and telling people personal and deep thoughts without ever even seeing their face or hearing their voice. How healthy can this type of faith sharing be?
It’s tricky, for several reasons.
Aside from living in the information age, where everyone can access a computer and technology is literally ‘an extension of our bodies,’ like Marshal McLuhan said, we find ourselves backed up to a screen with no human touch. Paul wrote letters and we write status updates, and they seem so similar, but they are so different. It would appear that the ease of posting something, anything, goes without repercussions. Thanks to the First Amendment and certain unalienable rights, we’re able to share whatever we want. It’s good and it’s bad and sometimes there is a lot of ugly.
This is not a social media bashing session, because in so many aspects social media does good things and it has allowed another part of the church body to utilize their gifts. It’s the World Wide Web, for goodness sakes. Churches post their sermons, musicians their songs, writers their testimonies and so much more—the Good News gets out. People can access these things with a click of a mouse. Where there is no jurisdiction on the Internet, God’s light shines and, truly, no place is too big or too complex for God.
Sharing your faith on the Internet amounts to your transparency and love for people, not love of self. There is a message to be delivered, and people are tuning in and reading up. While we are encouraged to share our faith, we should also consider the conversation and messages we’re communicating. Here are some ideas (and some Scripture) to consider while sharing your next post, picture or status update:
It’s not just feedback, it’s a response.
A wise person once said, “When you’re angry or have a strong opinion about something, don’t just react, respond.” Romans 12, in general, calls us to give grace because we have been given grace, and in verses 16-18, Paul also reminds us to keep the peace, “…Never be wise in your own sight…If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
That means when elections roll around, a new law gets released, or some pop diva does something questionable by your standards, don’t just react, respond, and, so far as it depends on you, keep the peace. Yes, faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26), but words without thought or wisdom stir up anger (Prov. 15:1).
Above all else, show (and share) grace. “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col. 4:6). Seasoned words and responses come from walking in the Spirit and staying in the Word.
Share what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and good.
Philippians 4 says, “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” and share them. We must share the Good News.
The blessings of our days should not go without praise. The honest-to-God truth must go out. Never cease to wish well to others and do so with thoroughness. Birthdays mark a milestone in people’s lives, and when you tell them ‘Happy Birthday’ in person, it means the world; but friends near and far can wish them well because of the Internet, specifically social media. Think about a missionary or soldier overseas. How can you show them they are always cared for and not forgotten? How can they show you?
Birthdays, job promotions, birth announcements, engagements, these are all things worthy of praise. Perhaps a simple ‘congrats’ or well wishes on their wall shows you care about them. Without reaching through the screen and embracing them in your arms, you can share the love of Christ with your words. Remember, God has no limits.
You are held accountable.
In Matthew 12:33-37, we’re told that, “‘…on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.’” Scripture makes it very clear that our words hold a lot of weight. What we say, how we act, what we write, these things speak volumes to non-believers in America and around the world.
While you consider a post or picture to be completely harmless, you must remember an audience of people and heavenly hosts always watch. We know we’re not perfect, and anger creeps up and bitterness makes its way into our lives (James 3:2), but where you are not sure, (and it’s of eternal significance) there is silence and prayer.
Talk less, listen more.
Sometimes the passion and zeal for sharing the faith, or some truth, overshadows the ability to recognize a person’s will to receive. Chat all you want, write all you want, post all you want, but without understanding where someone comes from, or how they’re processing what you are saying, you will never understand how to better communicate to them. Isn’t the point of sharing what you know not only to encourage believers, but also to witness to unbelievers?
James 1:19 says, “…every person should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” When you listen, truly listen, the fruit of patience, grace and mercy allows the Spirit to work through you in ministering to people, lost and found. The key to good conversation is not talking it’s listening. The same concept goes for social media. Read through the responses and truly try to understand the conversation. Allow others the room to speak without condemnation and you will receive blessings untold.
Tell your story.
Share your story, it’s the most important thing Christians can do in a skeptical society driven by technology. Anyone can look up verses and argue points, but your testimony is your own. It can neither be argued nor denied, and because Christians believe Christ reconciled them to Himself, there’s a divine relationship. It’s perhaps the most complex and yet strongest point of sharing our faith.
In 1 Peter 3:15 we are told to “give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” in gentleness and respect. How can one withhold the hope that gives them reason for living and reason for absolute joy? Your story becomes the bridge for conversation, and God works through the least of these to make Himself known.
None of these points go without the strong need for prayer and discernment. It is true that one of the greatest platforms for sharing the Gospel comes not from a pastor in a pulpit, but Christians proclaiming the name of Christ via social media. Where there is error, there is always grace, but we’re not excused from aiming for righteousness.
Scripture says that the world will know Christians by how they love one another. Never cease to praise God for all He has done and is doing. Never cease to love, no matter how strong your opinion.