by Evi Rodemann
Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr are all part of our daily social menu! We eat it about three hours each day, in various chunks, even while using the bathroom. We have created online identities and virtual relationships, sometimes pretending to live in two worlds. The tools indeed are amazing innovative opportunities for connecting and learning and playing a vital part in our global community.
While so much time is spent in the virtual world, I wonder if Jesus would use social media. I believe he would (though I doubt he would carry his phone into the bathroom. I think he is far more relaxed than most of us). I believe he does use it through US—you and me.
Sharing the good news today should be across all spheres of influence and an important one is media. Looking at Jesus, we can all see that He was not a mainstream guy. He chose purposefully where He would engage and where He wouldn’t. He did not say or write according to what people wanted to hear (Matt. 6). He did not care about how many followers He had and if everyone heard what He had for dinner (though on occasion food was mentioned).
He was (indeed, He is) after people. He likely would rather invite the neighbour for dinner then chat with him via WhatsApp. He would go where the people were (yes, in real life) and would listen to them, pray for them, and connect with them.
How would Jesus use social media? I think He would use it to get in touch with people, to drop them a note of encouragement, and to connect them with others. It would never be about Him. Jesus would use it to glorify the Father and lead people to Him. Jesus esteems and honours others; He does not belittle or insult.
How many times, however, is our social media usage simply about us? How many times do we see pictures of people with microphones as if to say, “See, I can be on stage. I have reached the goal”? Selfies are made of everything possible and we believe it is important who we meet and that we need to share it all on Snapchat. We build our image. Is that really how we should be using social media? Would Jesus constantly take selfies and share them with the world?
People need to see Jesus in us. They need to see that my social media identity is identical with my real-life identity. They need to see that my online identity is about being a follower of Jesus Christ, and in my weaknesses and strengths honouring Him by living an authentic life which points to Him.
Sometimes, I doubt if people will really love me for who I am once they get to know me beyond my online personality. I have found out that in fact they love me even more than I had hoped they would. One of my Muslim friends became a Christian when he saw my daily life with all its ups and downs, and not just my Facebook portrait.
Now is the time for Christians to have our online identity match our true identity.
Questions to Ponder:
- Am I posting to glorify myself, God, or others? Are the postings uplifting or criticizing?
- How much of my identity is based on likes and followers?
- What kind of venues can I use to share the good news in positive ways and live a life of integrity?
Evi Rodemann (@erodemann) is executive director of the European youth mission movement and congress called Mission-Net. She loves young Europeans and seeing them discover and use their God-given calling in this world gives her the greatest joy.