Christians have been at the forefront of most communication technology innovations. From the printing press to the World Wide Web, Christians have made their mark in a unique way. Sometimes this technology is used for good, and sometimes it is used for evil (even by well meaning Christians). The challenge for Christians in communication has always been to communicate in both truth and love.
Today, people use social media to create an online “presence.” It’s a virtual representation of who you are as a person. Christians need to approach with caution. There are always two sides to communication.This new platform should not be treated as a soapbox, but as an extension of the reach of one’s personal ministry.
Here are some truths and guidelines Christians should consider applying to their approach of social media:
- Conflict Resolution. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus talked about the best way to resolve conflict in the church. There’s a process, but always, the first step to take is to man up and approach the offender in private. He says, “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone” (Matthew 18:15). This is a challenge for many Christians who use their social media accounts as a way of “venting” or letting off steam. It is not uncommon for Christians to “battle out” their viewpoints on social media, which is completely open and exposed for all to see. This public forum only encourages strife, misunderstanding and pride. It is far better to confront people one-on-one, as Jesus modeled for us in Scripture.
- Focus on the Positive. While there is a place for rebuke and dismay, our mode of operation should not be one of indignation all the time. The Bible says, “Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8). Whatever is good, pure, honest, inspiring, noteworthy—those are the things that we should be focusing on. How would Christians be perceived differently if we were known as heralds of beauty and truth, rather than harbingers of condemnation and hate?
- Keep the Peace. There are literally hundreds of verses about peace, harmony and unity in the New Testament alone. God clearly values His bride, the Church, living in unity with one another. “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). Peace is valuable, but it is grossly undervalued in this drama-filled, sensation-seeking culture. It may feel counter-intuitive to turn the other cheek, or to be silent when we are burning to speak. However, we are not to be like the world, but different: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).
- Guard your Identity. Never before in the history of the world has there been such a traceable, quantifiable, precisely measurable way to evaluate your worth as in the social media age. If you want to know how important, beautiful, or popular someone is, just look at their social media following. You want to know how pretty you look in that selfie you just took? Well how many likes does it have? There is now a number assigned to these values that used to be arbitrary. Social media is shaping our culture and is raising up a generation of social media natives who are referred to as “Generation Like.” We must not allow our social media presence to define our worth. We are God’s children, and our lives are hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:3). That is our identity.
- Guard your Reputation. “A good reputation and respect are worth much more than silver and gold” (Proverbs 22:1). Reputation follows you. What you say and do on the Internet is not private or passing. It is public and permanent. We should live our lives in an authentic way so that who we are portrayed to be on social media is a genuine representation of who we are all the time.
Good communication is important. The overall rule when it comes to any type of communication or interaction is: LOVE. Love matters, and it should be our sole motivation. It is the first and most important commandment: “[Jesus] said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets’” (Matthew 22:37).