Did you know that globally, 4.2 billion people, about 55 percent of the world’s population, are active on social media?
On average, users spend about two-and-half hours every day engaging an array of social media platforms. Teens, ages 13 to 18, spend the most time on social media at an average of three hours and one minute per day. The most popular daily platforms are: YouTube (44 minutes); Facebook (35 minutes); Instagram (33 minutes); TikTok (32 minutes); and Twitter (10 minutes). And studies show that 270 million people have a social media addiction.
As social media’s societal influence proliferates at an exponential rate, these worldwide web-based platforms hold unlimited potential for good and evil—a conundrum for the ages.
For example, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association reports that 17.3 million people around the globe have made decisions for Christ through their SearchForJesus.net website.
FACEBOOK: Return To Sender?
Conversely, a former Facebook data scientist testified October 5th before a Congressional Committee that the social media giant manipulates its algorithms to boost certain content while shielding or masking other posts from reaching their maximum audiences. In other words, Big Tech is the 21st Century’s digital puppeteer—pulling strings and pushing buttons to skew public perception and sway opinion.
“Today Facebook shapes our perception of the world by choosing the information we see,” Frances Haugen testified before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security on Capitol Hill.
“Even those who don’t use Facebook are impacted by the majority who do,” the Facebook whistleblower continued. “A company with such frighting influence over so many people, over their deepest thoughts, feelings and behavior, need real oversight. But Facebook’s closed design means that it has no real oversight. Only Facebook knows how it personalizes your feed for you.”
So how is a Christian to navigate the digital media landscape? Just imagine the impact if every Christian used their social media platforms for God’s glory and to point people to Christ with the same fervor and enthusiasm with which we critique the world and post our favorite activities, family vacations, milestones and accomplishments?
There’s no algorithm smart enough to thwart the efforts of an army of Christians around the world intent on lifting high the banner of Christ online.What if our social media engagement was filtered according to Philippians 4:8? Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Is God your Editor-in-Chief on social media?
For God to be Editor-in-Chief of what we post on the Internet, the Fruit of the Spirit known as self-control is necessary to leverage one’s thoughts, speech and actions for an eternal impact. For example, it’s one thing to know truth, but equally if not more important is to know when and how to communicate truth. This could not be truer than when sharing the Gospel or simply opining on current events through a Biblical Worldview.
Just because I know that Jesus is “the way, and the truth and the life,” doesn’t mean that I’m smarter than or superior to someone who doesn’t know or believe the same. It’s been said that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Usually, before someone will respect what you believe, they must first see that your words and actions authenticate your beliefs.
When our words and actions are in alignment, what we say is more believable. We find an expression of this in 1 Peter 3:15-16: “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”
Send, Post Or Delete?
When self-discipline is added to knowledge, words aren’t wasted, opportunities aren’t squandered, and life is lived with purpose and an intentionality focused on being ready to illustrate and articulate what it means to have your identity in Christ. The Bible teaches that just as a thousand-pound horse is guided by a small bit in its mouth and a huge ship is directed by an inconspicuous rudder underneath the vessel, the tongue—for better or worse—controls the body.
“So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life] and set on fire by hell.” (James 2:5-6)
Words and actions matter. Both have consequences. And when you post them on social media platforms or in email, it’s like tattooing them on your forehead. Just ask Jon Gruden, the now former head coach of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders, if he would like to take back nearly a decade’s worth of regretfully demeaning emails.
And the next time you feel the need to be right or win an argument online, ask yourself what’s more important—being right or being in a right relationship? Proverbs 24:5 says: “A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might.” Don’t forget, whatever someone else might say or do, a Christian has already been made right with God— justified in His sight by the forgiveness of their sin through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son. Christ-followers are not called to win debates or arguments, but speak and write the truth in love and serve others.
Take Me To Your Leader
The Bible says in Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” As Christians, we have the privilege and responsibility of sharing the Good News of the Gospel. A faithful Christ-follower embraces Jesus’ command to be “fishers of men” by making Him the center of their stories, reels and posts. What if our social media followers and friends came to know Jesus as their Savior and Lord through our influence? For that to happen, we have to break down the walls of our echo chambers and invite more people in who don’t see the world like we do.
What’s more important to you—gaining followers on social media or winning followers of Jesus Christ? Ready to share God’s fame with the world? Then intentionally include Him in the details of your story online. Now that’s being an influencer for God’s glory.