On These Two Commandments Depend All Your Tweets and Posts

March 6, 2013

The psalmist once asked, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?”  The answer, of course, is nowhere.  Unless you’re talking about Twitter or Facebook.  We all know that God isn’t on social media, which is why we use it to post whatever we want.  In cyber world we’re like ambassadors in a foreign country, moving among our friends and followers with diplomatic immunity.  What is it to Jesus or the church or to anyone else for that matter if we grumble, or rant, or flirt, or slander, or brag?  Once we’ve signed in, we have left the sphere of verbal and visual accountability.  We have entered a virtual God-free zone where we can “just be real” or “not really mean anything by it.”

The psalmist had no conception of social media as he pondered escaping God’s presence.  But his ancient conclusion is no less applicable to our modern situation: God is everywhere.  God is present in all reality, including virtual reality.  My dear Christian brother or sister, we must remember this.  Just as we would hope to honor Jesus in our personal interactions with others, we must seek to honor him in online interactions too.  We should never think of our discipleship as being temporarily suspended whenever we log on.  Our passwords may be secret, but what we post never is.

Dispelling the illusion of secrecy is a good place to start.  Last year Pastor Kevin DeYoung offered some good advice on this point:

Whether you are a tween, a teen, a pastor, a politician, a grandma, or a grad student, whether you blog, tweet, post, or pin, here is the one indispensable social media rule you must follow if you want to be wise, edifying, and save yourself a lot of anguish:  Assume that everyone, everywhere will read what you write and see what you post.

No matter your settings or how tight your circle is, you ought to figure that anyone in the world could come across your social media. All it takes is a link or a search or a bunch of friends you don’t know gathered around a phone that belongs to someone you do know. Anyone can see everything. Your pastor, your parishioners, your ex-whatever, your boss, your prospective employer, your spouse, your kids, your in-laws, your…fans, your constituents, your opponents, your enemies, your parole officer, the girl you like, the dude who freaks you out, the feds, the papers—assume everyone can read your rant and see your pics….

It’s amazing what some people post online. Do we forget that a thousand other folks are reading this intimate declaration of marital affection or this lambasting of all that their family holds dear? I wonder if people realize that what we post is who we are to hundreds or thousands of people. So no matter what we think we are like in real life, to most people who know of us, they only know us as that guy obsessed with Ron Paul or that girl obsessed with dieting or the pastor who seems to hate everyone or the cynical college kid or the older [person] checking out strange things through Socialcam.

(Read the whole article here.)

To DeYoung’s one indispensable rule for social media we can add several explicitly Christian points.  I offer these points in the form of diagnostic questions.  None of us will remember all of these questions, but they are the kinds of thoughts that should pass through our minds before we ever hit ‘Tweet’ or ‘Post’ or ‘Pin It’ or ’Upload.’  An honest, gospel-shaped answer will guide you well.

  • Is the content sinful (e.g., grumbling, slanderous, immodest, suggestive, etc.)?
  • When God opens my timeline history on the day of judgment, will I regret this?
  • Will this hinder or help my witness for Jesus?
  • Is this truly benign, or am I seeking to make much of myself?
  • Can I post this with faith and a clear conscience?
  • How am I seeking to honor God with this post?
  • How am I seeking to build up my neighbor with this post?

None of these questions are meant to imply that every tweet or post must be a Bible verse or a spiritual thought.  But let all of our posts have the hearty aim of serving Jesus and others rather than ourselves.  In short, love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all your tweets and posts.

All the world belongs to God, including cyber world.  God is with us offline and online.  Post for his glory!

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