The power and navigation of social media in the 21st century is incredible. This newsletter, for example, is made possible by the modern breakthroughs of social media. At the disposal of our devices, we have numerous ways to stay in touch with hundreds of millions of people, regardless of where they may live, who they are or which race, religion, sexual orientation, or characteristic and opinion they might otherwise identify with. It usually doesn't even matter how you met someone (or if you met them at all), following them on social media is a quick and easy way to peak into their lives. With each status update, live video, insta-feed, live story, or chosen filter, the inner-workings of a person's mind and passion can be displayed for the public eye, and the results can be world-changing. I sometimes consider how remarkable social media would have been had it already been invented in the first century. Escaping in a basket. #damascus #amiright #theway - Paul Join us in Jerusalem for the most incredible church service you've ever been to. #Pentecost #dontmissthis -Peter Literally saw the risen Christ with my own eyes! #selfie #messiah -Thomas Of course I'm being a little silly, but maybe you can you imagine how quickly Christ could have been spread to every corner of the world had the apostles been able to utilize social media the way we utilize it. Instead of Paul having to rely on hand-written letters circulating throughout the Greco-Roman world, he could have sent an email. Instead of scribes having to spend countless hours recording the Bible by hand, it could have been photocopied and printed one-million times over. We have an electronic Bible wherever we go; imagine if it were so easily accessible in the first century. When Jesus fed the 5,000, people would have been live-streaming it on Facebook, using their iPads to take notes, texting their friends about the unreal miracle they were witnessing. The use of technology in the first century could have drastically changed the way the Gospel accounts were recorded and passed around. We would have hundreds or thousands of eye-witness accounts of Jesus himself. Paul and the apostles changed the history of the Mediterranean world by hand-written letters, traveling by foot and boats, and speaking at synagogues and in public gatherings. Imagine what kind of impact they might have had with an immediate reach of thousands of Facebook friends. Imagine how world-changing it would have been if Paul had voiced his convictions on a media outlet. Think about how many news outlets would have had Pentecost on their front page! Now, imagine how Jesus would respond to the way social media is utilized now by some Christians.
When we profess Christianity, we immediately become "that guy" to most of our friends. Some people are literally waiting for us to say or do something that categorizes us as just another hypocrite who says they're a Christian but doesn't constantly strive to be holy, set apart -- different. Lately it's been very difficult for me to browse social media platforms. I love the tools they provide and the ease of blasting out information to a wide audience, but I constantly see the hurt and despair that the use of social media can bring. I see people writing such angry and hateful things towards figures in power (especially during voting season), or I witness someone "share" something crude, sexual, or grotesque, all while laughing at the content and tagging their friends for added humor. I see Christians shouting hateful, discriminatory remarks at Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, posting remarks that "if you vote for so and so, you're wrong, and you're dead to me" kind of comments. I see such viral activity of endless opinions and anger-driven rants and raves that draw attention so undeniably far away from Christ that sharing any kind of Christian conviction outside of that specific post, on social media or in person, becomes a contradiction and breeds hypocrisy. In the world we live in, there is intense hate. There is real, unjust racial discrimination. There are political actions that cause anger, and sometimes results in personal injustice. There is a constant saturation of media through every possible technological outlet (phone, tablet, computer... now even watches) that "fixing your eyes on Jesus" becomes harder and harder the more constantly our emotions become compromised by the world and its faculties. In the 21st century, living a lifestyle of evangelism is impossible if your personal social media profile contradicts your life outside of technology. Social media is a powerful tool. If we choose to utilize it righteously, it can become an extension of our evangelism, and can stir a world that has become a melting pot of every possible opinion and more. When wisdom and prudence are paired with action and faith, our technological devices can be world-changing. There's a quote I read recently that I think applies here: "Disciple making takes more faith than any other task of the church. Since it is top priority to God, it is top priority for Satan. No work of God's servant draws more resistance than disciple making." -Bill Hull "The Disciple-Making Pastor." I believe Satan applauds the Christian that compromises personal righteousness for unnecessary social involvement. To the church in Colossae, Paul writes: "2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone" (Colossians 4). Perhaps the hardest thing in today's world is being involved in social media while continuing the proclaim the message of Christ clearly. I'm not saying it's best to only post Bible scriptures all the time, or to never voice your opinion. But as a Christian, it is absolutely vital that we voice ourselves without compromising our righteousness. Next time you post or share or comment on social media, consider how Jesus would respond to what you are saying. How would the friend you are sharing your faith with respond? Will what you're posting make what you share in faith hypocrisy? Is it possible to remain absolutely holy while saying what you're saying? Would Jesus have laughed at your joke? Try to be consciously aware of your words and your actions. The Christian's call to be set apart applies to every single aspect of life, even social media, where the most people can see you.