I’ve been studying the book of James recently and writing a short series of small group studies on certain parts of the book. I have been seriously challenged by the book of James and it has made me think about how we, as Christians, talk and live. There are many different scenarios and examples of how Christians should speak and live out their faith on a daily basis. Over the last few days I’ve had two particular issues, or examples, on my mind…
How we interact with people online is just as important about how we interact with people in person. No Christian should be a keyboard warrior whilst being a church mouse in normal life. Every Christian is called to be the same online as they are in the pub, pew, pulpit and park. That is no excuse for being rude, argumentative or just plain nasty because a Christian is an ambassador of Christ. We need to act like it more often!
Social media, if used well, can be a great tool to connect with others and to keep friendships going that would otherwise be difficult. Platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and so on are helpful to stay in touch with others. However, so often they’re used to promote an ‘airbrushed’ life, a mask and a life that just isn’t true. One of the pitfalls of social media is that you can post pictures and inspirational quotes whilst being completely unhappy in life and feel lonely.
But the problem goes much deeper than that too. Over recent months I’ve seen social media feeds full of unwise video content calling governments and scientists liars. I’ve seen blog posts and articles slandering Christians for their approach to certain topics. I’ve seen argument after argument result in a keyboard war between two parties simply because they disagree over a minor thing (something they normally forget about after the 15th tweet).
Should Christians call out things that are wrong? Yes!
Should Christians engage in constructive debate and discussion on topics? Yes, in the wisest and best way/format possible!
But in all of that Christians need to remember that their conduct online is just as important as it is in person. The anonymity and ‘safety’ of arguing behind a screen gives people the courage to tear down people they don’t even know. I’ve seen too many discussions that have ended in people throwing around the word ‘heretic’ for a disagreement over a secondary matter.
Friends next time before you tweet, comment, share or send that message, crack open your Bible to James 3 and pray. We need to learn to tame our tongues, to build up our brothers and sisters and to humble ourselves before the Lord and speak wisely, even on social media!
When big issues arise in the world, it’s right for people to speak out. It is right for Christians to stand up and stand out for the things that the Bible says. We should speak out against racism, we fight injustice, we should care and fight for the rights of life (from the womb to the tomb), we should help the poor, care for the widow, be a voice for those who aren’t heard and so on. There are thousands of social issues that I think every Christian can engage in well and make a difference in, but it requires more than words!
Christians should do much more than just speak out on relevant issues, we need to actively engage with them and practically do something. I am a firm believer that gospel proclamation is a must and that the main priority of the church is to go into the world and make disciples. That gives us all the more reason to practically go and do stuff and share Christ in the process.
But it also goes deeper than that. With the recent Black Lives Matter protests and deaths many people, including Christians, pastors and prominent Christians figures, have spoken out against racism. That is really good. But I do wonder how many Christians actually thought about the racism within their own church, within their own community and within their own heart? Going on marches is fine, sporting a sign in protest is fine, but if it remains nothing more than a ‘those external to myself are the problem’ attitude, is it really enough?
I’m not pointing fingers, I’m not calling people out, I’m just asking us to listen to God’s Word specifically the book of James and put wisdom into practice.
Our main focus as Christians should be to glorify God in all things, that includes our presence on social media and our interaction on social issues.