As of this writing, I have over 1,000 friends on Facebook. (I’ll hold a sec for your applause). I’ve been on FB since about 2005, when it was restricted to college students and when Myspace was actually more popular. Since then, of course, social media platforms have blown up; with options like Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram, just to name a few. Obviously, the word “friend” is used loosely on social media. I haven’t seen or spoken to some FB friends since junior high school, before FB was even a thing. Nonetheless, social media in general is the primary medium that young people use to tell the world about themselves. My question today is: As a Christian, do you ever use social media to share your faith?
To be sure, the Bible makes it clear that as followers of Jesus Christ, we are commanded to share our faith with the world. It’s commonly referred to as the Great Commission, Jesus said:
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you…” (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV)
If the answer to the above question is “not at all” or “rarely”, that’s fine. There was a time in my life as a Christian when my answer would have been the same. Eventually, though, I was able to overcome that after I discovered a few reasons for my reluctance. I’d like to share them with you in the hope that you can relate if they apply to you or that it encourages you to find your own.
I didn’t want to be “that” guy.
In one way or another, we’re all slaves to acceptance. I confess that when I post on social media, I check back (more than I’d like to admit) to see how many “likes” I’ve received. I’ve seen posts from fellow believers on FB that get little to no attention; even I didn’t bother hitting the like-button. I’ve seen posts from FB friends about their faith that I not only ignore, but that make me roll my eyes. (Really dude, if I don’t type “Amen” in the comments section, I don’t love Jesus). The worse kinds are the ones who never stop posting scriptures, when I see their names in my newsfeed, I don’t even stop scrolling anymore.
On the other hand, I’ve seen posts that are very inspiring and that have garnered positive feedback from believers and non-believers alike. What I realized is that if you are being sincere about being an encouragement to others, you’ll be more effective than if you’re using your posts to make yourself look holy or to be overly critical of others. Sharing your faith doesn’t mean that every post has to have a bible verse in it. Try asking yourself, would this post encourage me if I came across it or would it annoy me? Once I was able to answer this question, I realized that I didn’t care how popular my post was if I felt that somebody would actually be blessed by it.
I didn’t want to be challenged.
One of the risks you run if you happen to mention the bible or anything about Jesus is that one of your skeptical friends or even a fellow believer will chime in with a comment that you don’t know how to answer. “Doesn’t the bible support slavery” or “Jesus never said anything about ______.” Who wants to spend time going back and forth in the comments section for hours on end? I would think to myself, “All I wanted to do was encourage somebody, not create a controversy or start a theological debate.” Then I realized that there’s no shortcut to actually knowing more about the bible. If you’re going to be open about your faith, you have to be willing to invest time in understanding what you’re being open about. It’s only natural that people will have questions. As a believer, you have a responsibility to be able to give some kind of response when you sense that somebody is being sincere and even on rare occasion when they’re just being obnoxious (1 Peter 3:15).
I didn’t feel I could measure up.
People love hypocrites. For some reason (maybe because it makes them feel better about themselves) people enjoy it when they see somebody else not practicing what they preach. This is especially true when it comes to people who are open about their faith. Never mind the good that churches and Christians charities do all around the world, when a priest abuses a child or pastor says something in a unloving way, the negative story is much more likely to make the news. The same principle applies on social media. I was concerned that if I was caught on a bad day being less than Christ-like, people would be lining up to call me out on it. I’d think, “Should I like this post, it’s got a curse word in it?” or “should I like that photo, she’s half-naked in it or he has his middle finger up in it?” Eventually I realized that only Jesus was perfect. Although we should always try to be careful about how we are perceived and about what our actions and statements communicate about Jesus, we can’t be paralyzed by the fear that we might stumble. In fact, this realization made me even more gracious toward fellow believers when I saw posts of theirs that I thought were less than holy.
In the end, social media allows Christians to reach people all over the world in a matter of seconds. If we can overcome our reservations, these platforms can be effective in bringing people to Christ. We never know what role that post that we didn’t make would have had on somebody. People out there struggle with a number of issues and are looking for hope. If we believe that Jesus Christ is the source of our hope, why wouldn’t we share that with the world?