A 91-year-old member of my congregation said to me last week: “It’s amazing all the changes I’ve seen!” Sometimes even I, as a guy in my mid-30s, feel the same way!
One of the most rapid changes I’ve seen during my first decade in parish ministry is the prevalence of social media and its contributions to both public and private conversation.
Those who seek to know Christ and to make Him known can certainly see social media as one of God’s gifts to His people. In theological jargon, one might call social media a “First Article gift,” meaning it’s something the Father has brought into being through His own Word-spoken, Spirit-breathed creation. And, lest we forget, He promises to bless His creation!
I’ve personally seen the good social media can do. Sites such as Twitter and Facebook provide me with an avenue to communicate quickly and effectively to the people I am called to serve. Social media also gives me an avenue to reach out to people in our greater community (even our global community!)—people who otherwise may never set foot in one of our churches.
Here are two questions I try to ask myself before I post something on social media:
- “Is what I’m about to share something that, first of all, honors the Lord God?
- Is this something that will bless people and not hinder them in any way from coming to the Lord?”
As a person whom Christ calls to repentance each and every day, I realize that my words, my actions, my opinions, my vocation, my calling—my entire life—these are not my own!
“You are not your own; for you were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV).
I am of Christ. Christ is of God (Cf. 1 Corinthians 3:23).
I want my words and actions to reflect this reality.
For me, engaging with social media is a means to an end. The end is to proclaim Christ! The means is not the message; yet the reception of the message will undoubtedly be affected by my personal use of the means the Creator has placed at my disposal. Proclaiming the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ is not only a confession for the Church; it’s always for the sake of and directed toward the world!
Social media can be a huge help in this!
Yet, it can also be a hindrance.
If we’re not careful, our blog posts, tweets and status updates can become “obstacles,” not only for those who may be “weak” in their faith, but especially for those who are outside the community of faith. The apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 6:3: “We put no obstacle in anyone’s path, so that no fault may be found with our ministry.”
Well put, Paul. Well put.
These words of Paul are also helpful: “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time” (Colossians 4:5).
We can make the most of every opportunity we have to communicate the Gospel in our day, just as Paul did in his day!
He goes on: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Col. 4:6).
“Walk in wisdom.”
Being wise in our conversations with others—whether it’s face-to-face (which, I believe, is and always will be the best!) or whether it’s utilizing any other form of communication we’ve been given—is a timeless and timely instruction from God’s Word for us who seek to make Christ known!
I can hear the apostle Paul saying to me today as I engage others:
“Jeff, walk in wisdom.”
Well put, Paul. Well put.
Rev. Jeff Alexander serves as pastor of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Greenwood, Indiana.