Social Media 101 for Christians
By Andrew Schroer
Feb. 10, 2017 at 5:03 p.m.
Updated Feb. 11, 2017 at 6 a.m.
Facebook is on fire. Starting with last year's election and spilling over into these first weeks of President Trump's presidency, the rioting and looting on social media continue. My Facebook feed is being fed by angry, bitter and sarcastic posts from both sides of the issues.
Because social media has evolved so quickly, few have taken the time to evaluate how they use the megaphone they have been given. Below are ten simple encouragements for Christians to think about as they use this powerful tool God has given us.
1. Being right is not enough. God wants us to speak the truth in love. Rudeness, name calling and sarcasm are not loving or effective ways to communicate with others.
2. Not everything people share on social media is true. God does not want us spreading rumors, lies or even half-truths. If you cannot verify that it is true, you should not share it.
3. Whenever you write a response on Facebook, in a text or in an email about something that irks you, frustrates you or in any way bothers you, wait five minutes before you hit send. Walk away, calm down, say a prayer, reread what you wrote and then decide whether you really want to send it or not. This may seem tedious and unnecessary, but you will save yourself a lot of heartache if you do.
4. Public posts and threads are no place for private discussions. Even private messages and texts are no place for emotionally charged communication. The other person cannot see your body language or hear the tone of your voice. If you are frustrated or have a tense relationship with another person, give them a call. Talk to them face to face.
5. When you send or post something, even on a private message or text, it is no longer under your control. It can become public at any time by an accidental hitting of a button, hackers or another person's vindictiveness. Remember, once something is on the internet, it never really goes away.
6. Sexting and sending racy pictures of yourself to someone other than your spouse is always a sin. Sexting and sending racy pictures of yourself to your spouse is at best unwise (see No. 5).
7. Don't go fishing for compliments. Pride and vanity are always trying to sneak into our hearts. Be honest with yourself about why you are posting selfies or talking about your accomplishments.
8. Nowhere in the Bible or in the U.S. Constitution are your children guaranteed the right to privacy. You need to know what is on your kid's phone, tablet and computer. If you do not, you are being an irresponsible parent.
9. Arguing or debating with someone publicly on social media rarely changes anyone's mind. It usually just makes people dig in their heels. Don't get sucked into arguments. Just because you have a thought or opinion doesn't mean you need to post it publicly for all to see.
10. Understand that sharing political articles, advocating for a certain politician or sharing a meme that says, "Share if you love Jesus" are not effective ways to help people see the heaven and forgiveness Jesus won for them on the cross. Such posts are just adding to the white noise.
The best way to let your faith show and shine on social media is by sharing the good things God has done for you personally, by asking for and offering prayers for others, and by encouraging people with God's gospel promises.
With great power comes great responsibility. Think about what you post on social media. Pray about it. May God's grace shine through it.
Pastor Andrew Schroer has been a pastor for more than 15 years and is currently serving at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Edna. Read more of his devotional writing and contact him at 364DaysofThanksgiving.com.