One late spring evening, after a particularly hard day of volunteering at the local animal shelter, you decide to scroll through Facebook before heading off to bed. You notice your high school friend Brian lamenting the fact that a storm took out his electricity. Thankfully, you have the perfect comment for him.
Good thing Jesus is the light of the world!
Scrolling down farther, you see your cousin Ashley’s post about how much she misses her boyfriend, but fear not. You know exactly what will cheer her up.
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
You reply with the most sarcastic one-liner you can think of, and instantly you receive seven likes, each one obviously representing the salvation of a lost soul. As you triumphantly exhale, a celestial arm materializes out of the air to give you a divine fist pump and a deep voice from the heavens rings out, “Well done, my good Facebook servant.” Good thing Jesus has you on His team.
OK, perhaps the preceding scenario errs a bit on the theatrical side. Nevertheless, often Christians do have a negative, out-of-touch-with-reality stereotype when it comes to social media. Of course the Bible gives no clear instructions about internet usage. But what if we could hop in a time machine and bring Facebook back to the first century to see what Jesus’ Facebook would look like? Would He rock a selfie profile pic or would He stick to a group pic with his disciples (#squadgoals)? Would He like the Babylon Bee? Would Jesus even have a Facebook? After all, He’d certainty be verified on Twitter.
Conversations like this may seem ridiculous, but if the Bible calls us to “follow the example of Christ,” (1 Corinthians 11:1) we must examine how we can do that with regards to our conduct on social media. When we examine what the Gospels teach about Jesus’ life here on earth, we can come up with, at the very least, four ways Jesus probably would conduct himself if he had a Facebook.
Jesus wouldn’t debate everybody about everything all the time.
If you type “why are Christians so …” into Google, one of the automatic search suggestions completes that sentence with the word “mean.” Part of the reason for this stigma undoubtedly has to do with how we engage in disagreements online. The comment sections on many Christian articles can attest to this fact.
In the Bible, Jesus sends His disciples out two by two to share the gospel, but He gives them the command to “shake the dust off [their] feet” and leave when they were not welcomed (Matthew 10:14). This way the gospel could continue to advance and no time was wasted on people whose only goal was to stir up dissension.
If we apply these instructions of Jesus to our online behavior today, shaking the dust off our fingers, perhaps people wouldn’t just characterize us as hateful and angry. We don’t need to reply to every comment we disagree with. A place for healthy debate should always exist, but nine times out of ten that place is not the comment section.
Jesus wouldn’t share pictures of himself and say, “If you love me type ‘Amen.’”
We have all seen posts saying things like, “Share this post if you want a blessing from Jesus.” Or “Type ‘Amen’ if you like God. Keep scrolling if you like the devil.”
These “Christian” memes, typically featuring a representation of Jesus looking more like Han Solo than the historical Jesus, promise blessings to all in exchange for likes and shares. Jesus would totally post stuff like that, right? Wrong.
Posts like these do not represent the heart of Jesus. He never manipulated people into doing what He wanted them to. He never put people on guilt trips to get them to buy into His mission.
Jesus didn’t win people with an ultimatum. He won them with grace.
Jesus wouldn’t post unnecessarily divisive political posts.
Jesus said some pretty polarizing things.
“You have heard it said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43).
That’s strong. Or how about this one?
“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37).
But as radical as some of His teachings are, the only hills Jesus was willing to die on were those crucial to His mission.
Jesus didn’t draw lines in the sand over political party. He didn’t promote conspiracy theories about what religion a political leader may or may not be practicing. And He certainly didn’t disrespect governmental authorities by slandering them on a public platform.
I get it. This may all sound anachronistic. But Jesus concerned Himself far more with Kingdom values than He did with earthly politics. In fact, the one time the Pharisees tried to catch Him in a political argument, He basically shrugged the whole thing off and went about His business (Mark 12:17).
We need to ask ourselves, are we too caught up in what is passing away and not enough concerned with what endures forever?
Jesus would post only that which brought glory to His Father.
This doesn’t mean He would post only Bible verses or that everyone would love everything He said. It means that whatever conversations He engaged in online, He would do so with love. He would not enter into conversations with the intention of harming or humiliating others.
In the Bible, when Jesus harshly rebukes the Pharisees and calls them snakes and vipers (Matthew 23:13-36), He immediately followed that up by expressing His love for Israel and desire to save them (Matthew 23:37). He didn’t get into shouting matches, but instead spoke with love and truth and in doing so brought glory to His father.
Whether Jesus would enter into sports discussions online or just post pictures of cute little animals doing funny things, we will never know. Regardless, we must look at Jesus’ life and model our online behavior in a way that would bring glory to Him. We need to heed the instruction given to us in Colossians 3:17 and make sure that whatever we do, whether in word or deed (and whatever we post, whether long theological postulations or hilarious memes) we are doing in it all in the name of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.
Chase Lamarr Jones, a lover of all things social media related, currently serves as a Connections Pastor in Fort Worth while pursuing a Masters Degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. You can see more from Chase at joyrestored.net. Jared Marc Witt, a connoisseur of Texas barbeque and the father of TWO young sets of twins, serves as campus pastor at the Church on Rush Creek in Fort Worth, TX. For more content from Jared visit jaredwitt.com.