Showing Jesus to the internet

If you’re a Christian, then wherever you are is a mission field. That includes social media. If you’re on Facebook or Twitter or Google+ or anywhere at all where others can see what you say and do, then you’re testifying something about what it means to be a Christian with every key you press. That’s a sobering realization, but it’s also a pretty cool opportunity. In a world where it is hard to find openings for meaningful conversations with unbelievers, you probably have dozens and dozens of people who watch and listen to whatever you want to say, every day, through your social media account. We ought to make the most of that opportunity!

Beyond posting Bible verses
We have to think bigger than the content we post. That is a testimony, sure. But you are most compelling when you are least prepared. The give-and-take of a discussion thread shows far more about who you are in Christ and what you believe. Remember: If people know you are a Christian (and they should!), then every time you hit “Enter,” you’re showing people something about what it means to bear that name.

Let’s start by not sinning
Is there anything more satisfying than making an idiot look like an idiot? Social media is perfect for witty comebacks or snarky putdowns without having to actually confront someone face-to-face, which means it draws out our worst instincts like ants to a bowl of sugar. Posting something you care about is just asking someone else to come along and give you a nice cyber-elbow in the ribs, and right at that moment is when you have to decide if you are going to do the satisfying thing or the right thing.

We should probably all have I Corinthians 13 taped above our computer monitors, but I think verse 5 is especially convicting: “[Love] does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered.” Does that describe you online? Remember Paul’s warning earlier in the chapter: “If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” It’s a powerful testimony for online passersby to watch us be provoked by some crank, yet respond with patience, meekness, and love. We should stand up for things that matter, but our ego isn’t one of those things. How do you think it would affect our evangelistic efforts if everyone knew that online discussions became more reasonable, friendly, and humble the more Christians were involved?

Stay focused and think small
But let’s not just sit there being meek. When difficult topics come up, social media is a great opportunity for sharing the gospel and answering unbelievers’ questions, but we need to stay focused. Christian theology is deep and broad, and unbelievers can bring a hundred superficial objections in five minutes. Rather than trying to write your own Summa Theologica in the Facebook comments section, discipline yourself to pick one topic and discuss it thoughtfully and clearly, while respectfully declining to get sucked into other, unrelated debates–at least for the moment. Remember that you aren’t in this alone. It’s not up to you to personally save whoever is on the other end of that internet cable. You are part of a body of believers who are all called to be ready to give an answer for the hope that they have, and you are overseen by a loving Father who knows how to bring his lost sheep home. Don’t try to answer every question at once (because you can’t). Rather, give the unbeliever a good, meaningful answer to ruminate on, then hand him back to the Lord to deal with. A thousand Christians, each thoughtfully answering one question, will be a lot more persuasive than a thousand Christians who are all trying to answer a thousand questions.

Sow the Bible
In Isaiah 55:11, God says, “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” God’s word has a power to convict and convince beyond that of our own wisest arguments. We should think of Bible verses like Johnny Appleseed thought about his seeds–if there’s an opportunity to plant one, why in the world wouldn’t we?

The internet allows lots of people to see and listen to each of us. Let’s be thoughtful about what we do with that opportunity.

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