Article: How Christians supposed to respond to social media? | Jacob Varghese
It’s been said that knowledge consists of knowing tomato is a fruit and wisdom is knowing not to put tomato in a fruit salad! To be wise is not merely to know a lot about something but it is all about understanding how to use that thing in the best possible ways. This is true with the use of social media also. Social media has become a huge part of most of our lives, and transformed the way we interact with one another. Though social media has many positive aspects, it has many negative aspects also. Face book, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Whatsapp, Tumblr are some of the names of social media websites I know. It is not limited by these names but there are many more.
Of course these applications can spread information faster than any other media, it helps us to make new friends, help students with their school works and educational research, it help job seekers to find opportunities, business people to promote their business, organisations to raise funds, and it even helps in facilitating political change and it has many more advantages.
Having said all these, one question which disturbs my heart always is -are we using it all for the glory of God? As we observe the use of these social media, we understand a lot of misuse happening through this and finally we see the academic standard is falling, gossips and rumours spreading fast, cyberbullying and identity theft are increasing, stalking –haunting of people, black mailing, posting inappropriate and sexual contents, lack of privacy and finally leads people who are addicted to social media with stress and depression etc. For many it has become an obsession- sharing gossip, posting jokes, photos etc. It is also a time waster and increases a lot of relationship problems. People’s face to face interactions are reduced considerably once we started using social media. Exposure to pornography, promotion of crime, cheating, and lot of accidents due to the usage of social media has also been found.
Social media and the smart phones dominate our lives today. How are we, the Christians supposed to respond to them? Do we accept and embrace them fully without any discernment? Do we reject them outright as from the devil? As Christians, if we are not willing to let God use our participation in social media for His glory, it can lead us to great danger. One thing I have learned from talking to a number of teenagers about social media use is that they really don’t know the dos and don’ts of using social media. Most of them are getting the access to it without any proper guidance and they finally end up getting the freedom to misuse it. Telling a teenager, “you need to spend less time on social media at night so you can get enough sleep,” or “don’t post that kind of picture on social media,” is of no use these days. Until and unless we respect teens enough, and explain about the reason why they should or shouldn’t do in social media, our words will likely be ignored by them.
We should ask ourselves things like: How does a social media platform shape me as a person? Does it encourage me to grow in faith, hope and love? Is it a tool that leads me to be a more honest, godly person? Or, does it tend to do the opposite? To give a practical example: does scrolling through Instagram make me more grateful to God for his provision, or does it lead me to covet what others have and be discontent with my own life? As Christians, it is important that we answer these questions honestly. If social media is shaping us into a more sinful and less holy person in any way, we must make changes.
Jesus said, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that our whole body be thrown into hell” (Matthew 5:29). Jesus’ point is this: if something in our lives leads us into unrighteousness we should stop that than the sin leading us to death!
Since the outbreak of the pandemic—more than ever before—internet-mediated technology now defines how people engage — for good or for evil. I think this social media is the biggest challenge that internet-mediated technology is posing. Many young and old people alike are so engrossed with their internet presence that their sense of value is now tied to what people think of them on social media. If we get on the rat race of seeking followers and likes because of the illusion of significance attached to having more followers and likes, we find ourselves in unnecessary competition. The challenge is that we are bombarded with lots of unsolicited information and we are clueless about managing them well. All these leads us to distraction, competition, deception and a lot of time waste.
1 Corinthians 10:31 says “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” This means with anything in life, including social media, we are called to do everything for the glory of God. Jesus raises a question in Luke 9: 25: “What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?” In a sense what is the benefit of getting thousands of likes, followers or subscribers in social media and if you lose yourself in the process? Jesus also warns us not to love the things of this world, because everything in the world is not from the Father and for our good. The Bible calls us to honour God with our bodies, and to be modest in our appearance. But what kind of pictures are we posting? Are you honouring God with your pictures, reels, and posts? Our bodies are meant to glorify God, not to be shown off in a lustful or provocative way. When was the last time you posted something that shows your inner beauty instead of your physical beauty? 1 Corinthians 10:12 says “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” Does your Instagram (social media) feed promote worldly desires? Or is your post and content set apart for God’s glory?
The Bible tells us in Matthew 5:13 that we are the salt of this Earth, that the world needs us to be different. To be the salt of this Earth, we need to make sure we don’t conform to the world. When we conform to the world and what others are doing around us, we become less effective in accomplishing what God has called us to do.