St. Francis of Assisi once said, “Preach the gospel at all times and, if necessary, use words.” This is one of my favorite quotes about what it means to be a witness for Christ. Sharing the gospel with our words is great. However, it can be more impactful if we share about Jesus’ love, compassion, grace, mercy, peace and justice through our actions. How do our online actions, though, impact our witness for Christ?
Twitter, Facebook, blogs and whatever other social media in which you participate, are online, public representations of who we are. And, if we claim to follow Jesus, then how we represent ourselves in those social media is a reflection of him as well. That reality should give us pause the next time we post a photo to Facebook, update our status or think of a joke that is less than 140 characters.
As a follower of Jesus and pastor, this is something with which I wrestle constantly. Before I post anything on Twitter or my blog, I have to think through the potential consequences of what I say. Sure, no one will get offended when I say what I had for breakfast. Someone, though, may be offended if I complained about old people writing checks in the grocery store. Before, my thoughts about the elderly and their chosen forms of payment were my own; they would stay securely in my head and not impact my witness. Now that I have a forum for all of those random thoughts, offensive and inoffensive, they have the ability to impact my witness.
Obviously it would be best to get to the point where little things don’t bother me. I would love to be so transformed and empowered by the Holy Spirit that people writing checks in the grocery store, people ordering three Frappuccinos and Sex in the City no longer bothered me. On my list of issues, though, small things like that need to take a back seat to the larger issues in my life like pride, lust and discontentment; maybe when I’ve made some significant progress in those areas I can worry about Carrie Bradshaw.
Until then, though, I just need to continue to be mindful of what I post online. I have never wanted my actions to hurt my witness for Christ. Social media haven’t changed that desire, they’ve just given me more actions of which to be mindful.
How do you think social media can affect our witness for Christ?