My analytics tell me that if you’re reading this blog, you likely linked to it from Facebook. Thank you, by the way, for clicking!
Therefore, I’m going to begin with the a priori assumption that you have a Facebook account (or some other social media account). Therefore I can assume that you generally find value in the medium (minus the stupid videos “everyone else” posts). I’ve found that the degree to which people find value in Facebook is directly related to the quality of everyone else’s posts.
Still, you have one, and you probably don’t think it’s a tool of Satan. But have you considered whether or not it can (or should) be used for intentionally redemptive purposes?
What is Facebook?
Simply put, Facebook is a medium of communication.
Before social media, communication was limited to conversations, printed materials, letter writing, and smoke signals. But as technology has blossomed, we’ve created a hybrid form of communication that synthesizes real time talk with publishing.
What is Communication?
Merriam-Webster defines communication as,
“The act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc., to someone else.”
Thank you, Webster.
But for those of us interested in reclaiming biblical truth for everyday life, we must ask the next necessary question . . .
What is God’s Purpose for Communication?
All of the verses in the Bible that deal with our communication center around one glorious motive . . . to glorify God. But what brings Him glory in communication? I believe the answer is simpler than we realize.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
The greatest goal for any of our communication is to communicate God’s truth for the purpose of redemption. The unbeliever is “bought back” from sin and death in justification; the believer is “made better” through the power of the Holy Spirit in sanctification.
All of our communication needs to bring God glory, and though that doesn’t mean we always have to be quoting verses, it does mean we can’t glorify Him if we never acknowledge His truth in our communication. And I would argue that the more we reprove, rebuke, exhort, admonish, remind, encourage, bless, and edify using God’s truth . . . the more He will be glorified.
So, what about Facebook?
How Can my Facebook be Redemptive?
This linked article is a sad one indeed. A teacher chose to leave her substitute teaching job of 35 years because she refused to “unfriend” her students on Facebook. Being an educator, I’ve studied this trend a lot. As a counselor, I’m intimately aware of the pit-falls associated with “more-than-friending” students on Facebook. But what I want to point out in this article is what one of her former students said:
“One of Thebarge’s former students told WMUR that if she didn’t have ‘Ms. T’ in her life, and as a friend on Facebook, she wouldn’t have graduated high school last year. ‘Facebook is a great way to communicate with people when you’re going through stuff at home.'”
I don’t know if Mrs. Thebarge is a Christian, but I know that she used Facebook in an encouraging way.
I’ve seen this happen time and time again with more than just my students. Facebook is digital meeting place where people interact in many of the same ways they would at the mall. And when Christians talk, redemption can happen. What’s interesting about social media is that some people actually feel freer to say and ask things online they wouldn’t normally say to your face. This isn’t necessarily a good thing, but it’s an insightful observation.
Our Facebook pages will become redemptive only when our daily communication becomes redemptive. We need to start there. When God’s glory becomes our chief goal, it will bleed over into every facet of our lives from physical to digital.
In the meantime, as we strive to become more like God in all we say and do, here’re some helpful tips for making Face-time, growth-time. We’ll be using the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 and Paul David Tripp’s 10 communication questions from War of Words for guidance.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
- Your Facebook should lead to biblical problem solving. Stop complaining and offer solutions. When someone else complains, offer them solutions.
- Your posts should have a “stand together” instead of a “me against him/her/them” posture. The world is to know that we’re followers of Christ because of our love. During the high priestly prayer, Jesus prays that His followers would be united as Jesus and the Father were one! It’s completely acceptable to stand against sin, but too often we drive a wedge where God has commanded us to be linked.
- Your online demeanor should encourage others to be open and honest about their thoughts and feelings. Are you harsh and critical? Who would want to talk about their problems to someone like that?
- Your updates should show that you are approachable and teachable instead of defensive and self-protective. When your friend private messaged you and admonished you about that inappropriate movie quote or meme, how did you respond? Do you think they’re likely to keep you accountable in the future based off of the response you gave them?
- Your online relationships should all be as equally healthy: parents/children, husband/wife, extended family, siblings, employer/employee, friend/friend, body of Christ. Do you avoid posting things because you’re “friends” with your boss? Are your posts to peers nice, but your interactions with people younger than you are condescending?
- Your comments should encourage faith and personal spiritual growth. You don’t have to post a verse a day, but I cannot recount how many times a friend has shared a verse on Facebook, and God used it to meet a specific need in my life. God’s Word is the only Facebook post that carries the divine promise to never return void. Talk about a viral post!
- Your private messages should develop relationships, instead of only communicating with someone to cause or solve problems. So one of your students posted something inappropriate. Is this the first time you’re going to connect with them online? That just makes you come off like the Facebook police. But, if you build a relationship of love and understanding, they will accept your admonishment that much better.
- Your Facebook updates should be humble and honest. Stop exaggerating. Stop bragging. Period.
- Your posts should reflect a willingness to serve others, instead of demanding that everyone serve you. And all of a sudden the complaints about the weather, the government, and the news suddenly disappear!
- Your comments should show a recognition of the gospel in salvation and sanctification. Do you communicate biblical truth? You can use Facebook to disciple, encourage, evangelize, and rebuke just as easily as a phone call or a chat over hot chocolate.
You better believe Facebook (Twitter/Instagram/etc.) can be redemptive! But whether or not you “[Facebook] to the glory of God” is up to you.
Imagine a social network where just logging-in built up your relationship with God.
Start by sharing this post with your friends. Just click the Facebook icon below. The more of us who choose to use social media as a tool for good, the faster we’ll make an impact.
And while you’re browsing, check out these other Facebook-related articles by AMBrewster:
For Your Consideration:
“Some Posting Motivation”
People type completely inane
And frivolous and biting and plain
You would think that with the most
Amazing ways to communicate and post,
Some might favor reconciliation
To driving bitter wedges.
Others might lift us from the dredges
With timely edification.
Consider the benefit of quoting
A passage designed for removing
If we simply decided in all things to glorify,
Perhaps our posts might start to amplify
In the hearts and minds of men and women
Whom God has given the redemptive mission
Of Christ-honoring inspiration.