So, as we go forth and connect with others on these social media platforms, may we seek to build relationships that are more intentional and meaningful. Pausing and praying before we post on hot topics, making sure we are doing so with purpose as believers.
There it was staring back at me, reminding me of the foolish decision I made. The heavy heart I tried to hand over to the Lord kept swelling with guilt, not allowing me to forgive myself. It may have been answered with Truth, but it was far from grace.
Yes, I am referring to a comment that was clumsily and hastily made on a social media post. Sparking emotion – pure, raw emotion. Our words, both spoken and written, have so much power. They truly matter, even on social media, especially if our online presence indicates that we are a Christian. Whether we believe it or not, others look at that title and begin to draw conclusions on what that means. Will we share our source of light, hope, and strength found in Jesus, or will we react with the consequence of regret?
2 Corinthians 5:20 (NLT) says, "So we are Christ's ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, 'Come back to God!'"
This verse gets to the heart of Paul’s mission and calls us as believers to do the same. Spread the good news to as many people as possible and do so boldly. You would think within the tech-savvy age we live in, spreading the gospel would be easier than ever before. The truth is, it is easier than it ever was before. Where Paul traveled mostly by foot (and sometimes boat), delivering the message to the churches, we have the advantage of traveling across the world with a swipe of a finger. Where Paul wrote letters, we can create reels, videos, and posts that are seen by people thousands of miles away.
Can you imagine how the gospel would be spread if Paul were alive today? Would hot topics be a source of projecting love and hope? It’s food for thought because Paul wasn’t short of sharing the gospel in the midst of moral division and controversies. He continued to preach about Christ’s love even after his own split with his pal, Barnabas. (Acts 13:13 and 15:36-41) While there is controversy on that account, wondering who was in the right of that argument, that trail of thought shifts our focus and derails us from the purpose of what they were both doing, which was instructing others to:
Follow Christ, Not Christians
The truth is, at times we will fall to the weakness of our flesh. But let’s not discredit the deceptions of the liar and how he loves to conjure up mischief between fellow believers, all while bringing in non-believers or those teetering on the fence about their faith just to watch us crumble and mess up. All of this is an attempt to damage our testimony and throw us off track.
Here is one point to mention though: our work in sharing the gospel and love of Christ will indeed come with points of temptation and tension. It will cause us to be put under attack, especially when we aim to do good works in Jesus’ name (2 Corinthians 10:3). But, while there is a deceiver lurking under cover, we have the hope found in the declaration Jesus proclaimed when He said He is the light of the world. John 8:12
Paul and Barnabas may have split up due to tension with Barnabas’ cousin, John Mark, sparking a disagreement and leading them to go in different directions, but they still went off “spreading the gospel.” Satan may have attacked a friendship, but Jesus used it as a means to reach more people! We also see at the end of Paul’s life that he reconnected with John Mark by asking him to rejoin the mission (2 Timothy 4:11). God worked behind the scenes the whole time, eventually restoring friendships and mending hearts.
So, as we navigate how to handle hot topics that spark controversy on social media today, we can look back and see examples throughout Scripture of how the liar tried to come in and destroy and divide, bringing on confusion and chaos, but “the Light” eventually overruled that darkness.
It’s so good to know that no matter what, God is always on our side!
Fellow believers, let’s cling to that hope. Especially when it’s oh so easy to sling around phrases or statements that in the heat of the moment feel good, maybe even seem harmless. But remember the liar is sly and rather good at luring us in, sugar coating lies with a glaze of semi-truth. The liar wants you to get riled up and spew out emotions only to bring you to a place of guilt and shame. We mustn’t fall for it! However, the good news is, if we do happen to fall for it, we don’t have to stay there.
Here are a few ways to get back up again and cling to hope – Jesus:
First, take your heart to your Father. As with any sin that we confess, coming clean with our God helps us move past the place of guilt. We don’t have to sit and wallow in it; we can let it go. Ask God to help you forgive yourself along with others. Then pray for wisdom and direction in the next steps to make statements that allow you to firmly take a stand on what God believes, using words that speak Truth, while approaching all situations with dignity and grace. Basically, begging the question: How would Jesus respond? Lastly, pray that the Lord gives you the courage to stray away from conversations that may cause pointless contention in the future.
If needed, go back to the post and apologize. Sounds easy enough, but when many people are being labeled or painted with a broad brush, it causes a natural defense mechanism to go off. Remember that while social media has its advantages, such as conversing with many at one time, the personalization isn’t always there. If we want to be true ambassadors of Christ, we must get personal, just as Jesus did. Sometimes it is necessary to hold a private conversation or take it offline. Just the simple words of “I’m sorry” can mean more than you think.
Don’t Further Engage
Not everyone is ready to hear the Truth, nor do they want to receive it. That being said, when faith is brought into a conversation, it can either light a fire in a good way or in a tense way. Matthew 7:6 tells us to not give dogs what is sacred. Meaning that we must share the gospel with everyone, but when it becomes apparent that the receiver isn’t welcoming it, then it may be best to walk away and say nothing further. Just move on.
We must set limits with social media and realize when we are getting sucked in. If there are hot topics you don’t want to discuss, then don’t. It’s that simple. Don’t allow them to drain you mentally and emotionally. There are enough opinions to go around and if adding your statement causes more tension, resulting in a headache and dreary guilt, it may be a sign to keep scrolling or take a break.
As we navigate a world that is immersed in technology and makes social media a prime spot for communication, it is inevitable that our words may be misinterpreted at times. Even with the best intentions, our feelings and emotions may not come across in the right tone.
So, as we go forth and connect with others on these social media platforms, may we seek to build relationships that are more intentional and meaningful. Pausing and praying before we post on hot topics, making sure we are doing so with purpose as believers. May we strive to be ambassadors for Christ, shedding the Light into a dark world.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/eugenekeebler
Alicia Searl is a devotional author, blogger, and speaker that is passionate about pouring out her heart and pointing ladies of all ages back to Jesus. She has an education background and master’s in literacy. Her favorite people call her Mom, which is why much of her time is spent cheering them on at a softball game or dance class. She is married to her heartthrob (a tall, spiky-haired blond) who can whip up a mean latte. She sips that goodness while writing her heart on a page while her puppy licks her feet. Visit her website at aliciasearl.com and connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.