What’s on your mind, Christian?: On the use of social media by those who claim Jesus as Lord

It happened again tonight. I was just scrolling down my timeline on Facebook and there I saw it. Again. Someone I know who claims the same faith as I do, faith in Jesus Christ, sharing something containing vulgarities (in this case, what Ralphie in A Christmas Story called “the queen mother of all dirty words).

As a Christian it’s so discouraging to see this. As a pastor I’ve seen it among those I’ve shepherded just too many times.

If you are in Christ there is no place for this. Not only should we not find unwholesome speech and humor humorous (and there are probably very few who will ever read this who haven’t been guilty, myself included), but as those who claim the name of the Holy One, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1), we should definitely not be in the business of promulgating such. We have a much more important, infinitely purer, life-changing message to be spreading: the gospel.

If you have been saved by Jesus Christ through the gospel, then it means you have been declared righteous by God (Rom 5:1). As such, you (we) are to be holy, just as He is holy. In fact, let me share with you 1 Peter 1:14–16 in their entirety:

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves in all your behavior; because as it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”

The basis for our pursuit of holiness is God, who is in and of Himself holy (Holy, Holy, Holy, in fact). And note the extensiveness to which we are to be holy — in all our behavior. So there is no part of how we act, what we do, which should not be informed by who God is. There is to be nothing we do against the character of God.

Of course, we all fall short of the standard, Jesus being the standard, because we all have sinned (Rom 3:23); however, that cannot, does not, and must not be an excuse to not pursue holiness with all our might. The Holy Spirit who makes us alive is not powerless to sanctify us; that is, make us holy. To put it another away, if you are a Christian you have been saved from the penalty of sin, and you will one day we saved from even the presence of sin, but even now you are being saved from the power of sin. It has no dominion over you. You don’t have to do it. You don’t have to sin, so don’t.

To be clearer as to this particular issue, it is sinful to post, like, or share vulgar material in social media. It’s not neutral because you might get a laugh out of it. Ask yourself why you find it funny. Ask yourself why you might sing “Holy, Holy, Holy” amongst your church this Sunday, but it’s okay to post F-Bombs on a Friday night. Which one do you think reveals your true self?

What are we to be doing? Well, not everything we post on social media has to be Scripture. My social media feeds include a variety of things (and I’m not saying I’m perfect in this by any stretch of the imagination). But what should guide our use of social media, and furthermore, how we conduct ourselves as Christians?

I believe the apostle Paul is our guide here toward the end of Ephesians 4 and beginning of Ephesians 5.

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear” (Eph 4:29). This is a command, not an option. This shouldn’t reveal our best moments, but be characteristic of all our moments — if we are in Christ. And part of the reason includes grace to those who hear; in other words, the spiritual well-being of others.

“Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph 4:30). You were bought with a price, the precious blood of Jesus (1 Pet 1:22), if you have been saved, for the purpose of eternal life with Him forever. We are to strive to live in accordance with that for which we have been saved in the first place. We actually grieve the Holy Spirit when we do not. I wonder how much we think about that.

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice” (Eph 4:31). This should go without saying. To act and speak with these negative qualities is contrary to the character of Jesus Christ and not loving.

On the contrary, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Eph 4:32). Our conduct toward one another, including that which comes out of our mouths and keyboards and touchscreens, is to reflect the love of Christ. Note the “just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” part. When we use the means of communication God has gifted us with to sin, and when we sin period, it is a reflection of our own failure to fully grasp and/or appreciate the magnitude of what God has done for us through His own. So…

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Eph 5:1). Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, God in human flesh, is the standard by which we should measure our behavior, including our social media posts. He loved us for us to imitate Him.

“And walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and give Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Eph 4:2). We don’t think about “funny” social media posts as loving or unloving, but we should. We should think about our posts in terms of how they will be perceived, whether or not they will benefit others, whether or not they will lead others to sin, whether or not they will reflect goodness. We are to be the fragrant aroma of Christ in the world. It’s a way we radiate His love for us.

“But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks” (Eph 4:3–4). Our names literally appear alongside the things we post. Think “Is this something I want to be known for? Is this something proper for saints (i.e., Christians)?” Remember that nothing is neutral before God. That doesn’t mean every post has to be a blog like this or quoting verses, but it certainly isn’t to be filthy.

“For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolator, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Eph 5:5). There it is. Now what this is not saying is that you have to be perfect in your use of social media to be in the kingdom of God. Remember: We are saved by grace through faith, not as a result of works, lest any of us boast (Eph 2:8–9). However, one who has been saved by God is being conformed to the image of His Son (Rom 8:29–30); thus, your life is to reflect Christ. As it relates to social media, posting impure things on Facebook just should not happen, should not be customary, of a Christian.

Instead, we must consider ourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus (Rom 6:11). We must consider our bodies dead to immorality, impurity, and evil (Col 3:5). Instead, we must consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds (Heb 10:24).

Think through what you look at and spread on social media, dear Christian. Is Jesus your Lord when you post, like, and share? I’ve hit Post too quickly many times myself. Remember… in everything we do we are to seek to bring glory to God (1 Cor 10:31). To that end, I pray you’ll consider this exhortation to repent where it’s needed and seek to bring Him honor in your use of social media.

Author: Matt Privett

Christian. Husband. Father. Pastor.

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