Twitter, Facebook, Line, and other social networks can be a wonderful thing. But one thing I have noticed recently is a certain lack of Christ-like character in the things Christians sometimes post, particularly to one another.
In Ephesians 2-3, Paul talked about how God is building his temple from both Jews and Gentiles. Two peoples that were formerly divided as “the people of God” and “not the people of God,” now through Christ have been made into one. The hostility has been killed and we now have peace with God and with each other.
We are now “coheirs, members of the same body, and partners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” (3:6)
And now God’s desire is that his ” multi-faceted wisdom may now be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavens.” (3:10)
To that end, Paul prayed at the end of chapter 3 that we, the church, (the “you”s are plural there) would be rooted and established in God’s love, understanding as we relate with him and one another the length, width, height, and depth of his love, so that we, his church, would be filled with all of his fullness. (3:14-20)
And then Paul says, “Therefore,” pointing to all that he had just said.
Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to live worthy of the calling you have received…(4:1)
What does that mean? It means that our lives, our words, our relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ are to be marked by the following:
Bearing with one another in love.
Making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (2-3)
How often do these words describe us when we interact with one another in social media, particularly when we disagree on something?
From what I’ve seen on social media lately, precious little.
I suppose part of the problem is that debating issues over social media is a horrible way to do things anyway. Perception is a huge part of communication, and perception is easily distorted when we can’t see people’s faces, look into their eyes, and hear how they are saying things. You may think that you are speaking with humility, gentleness, and patience, but the written word too often fails to communicate that.
This is true not only of social media, but email as well.
The result? When we get upset with each other, we end up sinning. We let the sun go down on our anger. And we give the devil the opportunity to tear apart Christ’s church through our words and attitudes.
So as Christ’s body, whenever you send messages to your brothers and sisters on social media, email, or whatever, before you press “send,” keep Paul’s words in mind.
No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by him for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. (4:29-32)
How about you? Can those in heaven and on earth see the multifaceted wisdom of God and all his fullness in us, the church, as we interact through social media? Or do they see a splintered, factious group that is no different from the rest of the world?