Know Your Bible
VOL. 14 August 7, 2016 NO. 21
HOW SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS CAN SIGNAL SPIRITUAL PROBLEMS
Social media is today’s reality, and for whatever it’s worth, it appears to be here to stay. It can be a blessing, but it can also be a “Pandora's box” opening up new ethical questions about the way we conduct ourselves online. While it may be easy enough to separate this reality from who we think we really are in person, the fact is that how we approach and use social media can be quite revealing. Sadly, what it often reveals isn’t very pretty. Christians, then, as in all other areas of life, need to “watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life (Prov. 4:23). The devil still seeks whom he may devour, and we need to be sober and on the alert (1 Pet. 5:8). This is as true with our time online and in social media as much as anywhere else.
Unfortunately, the use of social media can signal many spiritual problems, even for the child of God who believes in holy conduct.
The following areas, for example, can reveal much about our spiritual condition:
The language we use. Anything from innuendo, to OMG, to outright cussing reveals a use of language that is more in line with worldly thinking than with words professing godliness. Are we watching what we say? Do we know what we mean when we say it?
The pictures we show. Suddenly Christians appear, through their pictures online, in clothing (or lack thereof) that may not reflect a mind that first adorns the teaching of Christ and also reflects the “imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God” (cf. Titus 2:10; 1 Pet. 3:4). The need for modesty (not overdoing it) and avoiding nakedness (not underdoing it) still apply when posting pictures to social media.
The topics we discuss. Social media houses pretty much every topic that anyone can think about, and sometimes it may be best just to move along and avoid some discussions and topics. If we are tempted to post something that we know the Lord would cringe at, we need to pause, reflect, and make a wise choice about what we are about to say.
The attitudes we display when we discuss. This is not just what we discuss, but how we discuss it. It’s real easy to allow ourselves to slip into a mode of getting ugly in our responses toward others. This problem is heightened by the fact that we can’t hear how someone might say something, and we need to be aware of how others might take what we are saying. Still, kindness needs to be in mind as we discuss any topic that is suitable.
The causes we support. Do we show support for the kinds of causes that are in line with God’s word? Even if the cause is secular in nature, we need to make sure we aren’t throwing in with something that lends itself to ungodliness.
The links we share. First, are we sharing links that, again, promote what is right? Are we careful about where the links may take us? Second, and this is a major problem in social media, are we sharing what is true? I’m not talking about obvious humor, which itself needs to be evaluated properly (I’m not against humor). I’m talking about alleged news media sites or other sites that post false information. Then we just run with it and spread the slander. The child of God needs to think critically before sharing. Do your homework before clicking “share.”
The pages, photos, and statuses we like. What we like shows up for others to see, and it tells people (get ready), “I like this.” Now maybe you don’t mean it that way. But these “like” buttons can be problematic if we aren’t careful. If it shows up on others’ walls that you like something that is inappropriate, then you need to asking yourself what you really wish for others to see about who you are.
At this point, we might expect for some to say something to the effect that what they do on social media is nobody else’s business, and that we shouldn’t be judging anyone. Mirroring the “don’t judge me” mentality of the world, Christians can fall into the trap of thinking that what they do is not open for anyone else to make any judgments about. Unfortunately, that’s naive. When we engage in online public activities, we’ll be judged by the same. If we don’t want to judged by others online, then we shouldn’t be showing our hand (or more sensitive things) to the world.
We aren’t so much talking about those times here or there where we know we messed up, though these moments, too, can be an issue. Surely we’ve all had discussions we are embarrassed about or posts we should have never shared. I’m as guilty as the next guy. We are talking more about continuing patterns that begin to emerge as we post, like, comment, and share. We cannot afford to disconnect our online world from the reality of who we are supposed to be as Christians. This would be like the apostles disconnecting their writings from who they were in person. What they wrote was as much a part of their influence as what they said and did in person. Today, we are on a worldwide platform with social media where what we say and how we say it is out there for the world to see. What we show and how much we show matters. If we don’t like that, then we have the option of not using it.
We don’t have to post anything on social media sites, but if we do, know that it says something about who we are and what we think—just like anything else we do. It’s out there on display for others to see and judge. This is the reality before us, and we need to understand our need to glorify God here as much as anywhere. It is the Lord Christ whom we serve, and if we aren’t using social media to serve Christ—that is, it is merely a selfish outlet for a narcissistic world—then it’s time to repent and figure out where our loyalties lie.
Posting good content does not necessarily mean we are righteous, but posting bad or questionable content does certainly show a spiritual problem. Let’s recommit ourselves to using all of our opportunities, whether in person or in social media outlets, to glorify God and share Christ with a broken world.
DO WHAT ON SUNDAY?
There was a time in our society when nearly everyone thought that it was right to "go to church on Sunday." Even those who didn't attend would agree that they should attend, and felt that one day they would do so. They admired their neighbors who were regular in attendance, and had a deep respect for preachers and others who were truly religious.
That time has passed to a great extent. People are often heard to say, "I can get close to God in ways other than going to church." So they go for a walk in the woods, or drive through the mountains, or go boating on a lake, or sit at home and listen to a preacher on TV. Others feel that good morality is what counts, not church attendance; that if they live a life that is morally clean, give to the needy and various worthy causes, contribute something to the welfare of youth, and in a general way do those things that will make this world a better world, surely God would not send them to hell just because they didn't "attend church."
What does God say about this question? God commands people to worship Him with other Christians on the first day of the week. "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them" (Acts 20:7).... "When ye come together in the church" (I Cor. 11:18) …"When ye come together therefore into one place" (I Cor. 11:20)… "Teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" (Col. 3:16)…."Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is" (Hebrews 10:25). The message of these verses is clear. One cannot sit at home on Sundays, or go for a ride in the mountains, or walk in the woods, and please God. If he wants to do what God commands and go to heaven when he dies, he must worship God with God's people.
"But where should I attend?" someone may be thinking; “So many churches today!” Some churches are hardly more than social and welfare society that have little regard for the Bible. Fortunately, there are churches that are spiritual in their emphasis, that have refused to follow the social and promotional ways characteristic of so many of the churches around us. Where should one attend? Where truth is taught; where the Bible is respected, not only as the word of God, but as the final authority in religion; where worship is conducted "in spirit and in truth, " that is, as the scriptures teach (John 4:24); where, in every way, the church is seeking to pattern itself after the teaching of the New Testament; where the church is doing what Christ authorizes, rather than what the majority of the members wants to do. This will require investigation, but careful investigation can pay great dividends that are eternal in nature.
We are not telling people to "go to the church of your choice next Sunday;" we are telling people to study the scriptures to learn what God's will is, and to work and worship with others who are determined to do God’s will.
Know Your Bible" is e-mailed weekly by the church of Christ which meets at 112 Roberts Avenue in Wise, Virginia. If you know of others who might benefit from the articles contained in this bulletin, we would be glad to have you submit their e-mail addresses and we will include them in next week's mailing. If you are receiving this bulletin and do not wish to continue to do so, please e-mail us with your desire to be removed from the mailing list and we will remove your address promptly. Continue to the bottom of this page and further instructions will be given as to how you may contact us.
--- E.R. Hall, Jr.
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