We learned from Joe last Sunday that there is a need for us to use relevant ways to communicate the love of Jesus to our world. If you missed it, you can listen to it here. As Joe pointed out, Paul demonstrated the value of being relevant in Acts 17, when he spoke of Jesus to the Athenians. The points Joe brought out on Sunday were great and have caused me to continue to marinade on the Acts 17 passage he shared. And a couple of additional thoughts came to mind.
In verse 16 it says that Paul was “greatly distressed” or “deeply troubled” when he saw the city was full of idols. Reading this, I notice that it does NOT say that he was angry at the people for worshiping idols. But he WAS “deeply troubled” by it.
When you look at the life your friends and family are living, are you “deeply troubled?” Or do you find yourself angry with them? I think there is a difference. In Paul’s case, he must have seen the emptiness in their lives. In spite of their fervent efforts to worship many gods, Paul knew that those gods were not real and could bring their worshipers no fulfillment. An idol could do nothing for their sin condition. No idol could comfort them, or give them peace or hope. Do you observe the emptiness and hopelessness in your Christ-less friends and family? Or does it just make you mad that they act so irresponsibly?
Verse 23 “While I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD,’ therefore what you worship in ignorance, I proclaim to you.” Paul was examining their idols? Shouldn’t he have kept his distance? What if someone saw him there and thought he was condoning idol worship? To be clear; Paul did NOT participate in idol worship! But we can observe that he made an effort to understand the people he was trying to reach. I can’t help but wonder if Paul asked himself “How can I speak to these people in a way they can understand? Can I really identify with idol worshipers?”
When we read that Paul confessed to “passing through and examining the objects of your worship,” we see that Paul was intentional. I don’t think that Paul’s mention of “AN UNKNOWN GOD” was spontaneous. He was purposefully looking for a way to connect. The altar inscribed “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD” revealed to him that these people were actively ‘seeking’ to know God. The only reason God remained unknown was because they had not been told.
You may have friends to whom God is still unknown.
So how can we be relevant to those friends. I believe that we have opportunities in 2011 and beyond like never before. And they are brought to us by multiple Social Media engines, and they’re FREE! Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Blogs allow us to, at anytime and in almost anyplace, share the love of Jesus with anyone. I don’t know what you do with your social media time, but let me encourage you to think about it in a new way.
Until about a year ago I used facebook as an alternative gaming platform. Please don’t throw the first stone! Those games gave me a chance to interact online with my family who live in another state. Why the change? A year ago I read this book “The Church of Facebook” by Jesse Rice. If you’re a reader, you should buy this book. I won’t summarize it for you, but Jerry’s words were largely responsible for refocusing my social media time.
Let me make a couple suggestions and feel free to criticize or embrace these. Some Dos and Don’ts:
1. DON’T repost those “Gotcha, you sinner” types of tags and quips you read on others status updates. You know the type I’m talking about – similar to the church marquee that says “If you think it’s hot here, just wait!” This “punchline witnessing” doesn’t allow you to speak Christ into someone’s life as a loving friend would. You’ll likely be unfriended and your witness left damaged.
2. DON’T tell someone “If you don’t repost this, you’re ashamed of Jesus.” In all honesty, they may love Jesus, but avoid reposting because they are ashamed of you.
3. DO be a personal and authentic witness when on social media. Facebook and other social media platforms play up to our tendency to pretend we are something or someone we are not. Most of us have a certain and specific image we want to portray. And on facebook we think we can control the way we present ourselves. Instead of that silliness, be yourself. People will appreciate it when you “keep it real” even if that goes against the culture and the social media norm.
4. DO be intentional. We have an opportunity here that is unique to our generation alone. Let’s not miss it. Pray for the people in your friends list or circles or followers. Message someone just to tell them you are praying for them.
5. DO be encouraging. Post and tweet scripture. Inspire others with quotes from Christian writers and speakers. Post something the Holy Spirit taught you that day.
6. DO follow other believers who can encourage and/or mentor you on social media. I follow several on twitter who I look forward to checking everyday.
I’m sure many of you have already had similar thoughts and consider the social media universe a relevant means of making a difference in the lives of others. Are you being a positive twitness on twitter? Or do you put on your pious face for facebook?What do you intentionally do on social media to Make A Difference for Christ? Do you agree with my ideas? Do you have an idea to share with me? Please leave a comment.