Remember the song you sang as a child? Oh, be careful little eyes what you see. That was the first verse. The others were: Be careful little mouth what you say/feet where you go/ears what you hear/hands what you do… that’s all I can remember. May I submit an updated verse to this song that has shaped the character of many young children? (That may have been an exaggeration) “Oh, be careful little thumbs what you tweet.”
We live in the social media age. Many of you tweet or blog or at least facebook. These can all be very positive ways of communicating. They can also be ways of spreading bad ideas or bankrupt theology. Be careful little thumbs what you tweet.
First, the trend was emails. Someone you new would forward an email that included a catchy little story or clever poem that sounded good. It would be about God (after you scroll past the email addresses of a thousand people you didn’t recognize.) It would pose a thought or an idea that just wasn’t biblical ex. “now that johnny has gone, he is my guardian angel.” Then it would conclude with the assault on your relationship with Jesus – “If you love Jesus, then forward this to everyone you know. If you are ashamed of Jesus click delete.” Where was the third option; If this is bad theology, click delete ALL and every copy will be deleted from every email account in the webniverse?
Can I get a witness?
In addition to my blog, I try to keep up with twitter and facebook. I also monitor my kids facebook accounts to make sure they are safe and that their online witness remains untarnished. It takes a lot of time to do all these things. But I am confident that they have value. We, as believers have the opportunity to shine the light of Christ with our presence on social media. We are also accountable to God that we present Him in truth and do not misrepresent his character.
The church in Thessaloniki was wary when prophecy was spoken to them. So much so, that it seems they were rejecting all prophetic word. Paul encouraged them to be open to the prophecy, but to test it all in accordance with God’s word.
Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 ESV)
We would be wise to apply this to what we read and repost on social media. Test everything; retweet what is good. When you come across a spiritual tweet or facebook post and it sounds good, test it. See if it stands up to a biblical foundation. Does it agree with the character of God as He has revealed Himself to us in scripture. Does it present Jesus glorified or cheapen His work of salvation? Is it loving? Does it offer biblical encouragement toward others within the family of faith or does it merely attempt to make the reader feel good with a clever but unbiblical cliché?
Paul gives a list of instructions to the Thessalonians at the end of his first letter. These would make a good checklist for us as we contemplate our Christian presence on social media.
- Admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak – be patient with them all.
- Rejoice always
- Pray without ceasing
- Give thanks in all circumstances
- Do not quench the spirit
- Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good
- Abstain from every form of evil
Social media is playing a larger role in shaping disciples. You and I follow pastors and bible teachers and fellow believers through social media. And by our own tweets and facebook posts we sometimes influence the way others understand or misunderstand the Bible. We are called to Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV)
So, the next time you read a post that sounds good, but something seems a little off – test is. If it declares an unbiblical view of God or applies scripture out of context – Do not pass go, do not collect $200 and absolutely do not retweet it! Be careful little thumbs what you tweet.
Father, we are your servants. You have told us that we are salt and light to a world living in darkness. Help us as we try to live our lives as a testament to the greatness of Jesus. May the light of Jesus, who lives in us and through us, shine whenever and wherever we interact with others. May our presence on social media build up and encourage everyone, especially those in the family of faith. (Gal 6:10) Help us to hold one another accountable for the way we represent Christ through social media interaction. May your name be glorified in every thing we do, every word we say, and every phrase we tweet. – Amen