Have you heard the sermon: social media is BAD? You haven’t, obviously, fully embraced it since you likely followed a Facebook link to this blogpost. But have you wondered about it? Do you second guess your participation in social media? Is it wrong?
The question before us can only be decided by looking at what is bad about social media, what must be done to deal with what is bad, and what is good with it.
What Is Bad About Facebook
Of course there is some bad in it. That is true to the point that my wife and I have been cautious about the extent our children can be involved in it. So far my 14 year-old daughter can only use my Facebook account. I need personal guidelines for me and my family on Facebook.
Specifically, what bad is in Facebook?
1. I might make a connection that could lead to sin.
2. I might gossip.
3. I might waste too much time.
4. I might neglect other more important duties.
5. I might carelessly say something that hurts someone.
6. I might conduct myself in a way I wouldn’t have the nerve to do otherwise.
7. I might present myself hypocritically as a person I really am not.
Does that pretty well cover it?
What I Must Do About What Is Bad About Facebook
To put this in perspective, look at the above list again and ask, could this list not just as easily be applied to a telephone? When was the last time you heard a sermon on the need to rid the telephone from your life? There used to be such sermons years ago, I am sure, but we all feel they are too essential to life to live without.
You might make a connection that could lead to sin at work or at the grocery store too, so the answer to that problem is to control yourself, not quit working or buying food at the store. Since I am a married man, I need the extra precaution on Facebook that my wife have access to my account at any time. A few times a bad friend request or private message have come my way, and I just immediately showed my Alicia. Once she told one women,who suggested I might want pictures of her, a few things!
The temptation to gossip is no stronger on Facebook than anywhere else. Facebook is neutral in my success or failure on that score. Restraint is needed on social media just as it is needed anywhere.
Yes, I have wasted too much time before on Facebook, but I am just as tempted to neglect and loaf at other times and places. Some self-discipline is in order here just as when there is an awesome desert on the table (I have failed some there too!). This says something about me and not really anything about Facebook. Perhaps I need to cut back, but that does not make Facebook inherently sinful any more than the cook of that fine desert. I have also failed in my prayer life over lesser things than Facebook too.
I have seen many say something on Facebook that some internal review should have caught. Still, it seems Facebook would be a less likely place for a loose tongue since your words become a matter of public record at least to those on your friend list. People who cut loose on Facebook have a deeper problem and likely would burn your ears in person.
There has been research that some feel disconnected in the cyber world and are, for example, bolder or more argumentative. The answer there is just to force yourself to live in reality. Just because you don’t know some of your Facebook friends that well does not mean they aren’t real people with real feelings.
Finally, hypocrisy is a problem we all deal with. I will confess that you get the best of Jimmy on there, and I usually share my successes more than my failures, but what I share is part of me, and often exactly what I want to be and even try to be. We probably have a greater problem in this area at church and no one would suggest that we leave church as some have suggested that we leave Facebook. Praying “Lord, help me be what I should be and want to be” is the solution here.
What Is Good About Facebook
I suggest there is much good. I was later than many getting on Facebook, but seeing what my wife did on there brought me in. (I learned much about its good from her).
1. A place to meet new people
I have met other preachers, some writers, and other Christians from all walks of life. I have loved it. I have met several of my wife’s college friends (I have concluded she was part of a special group of God’s servants at that time–a great percentage of them are serving the Lord wonderfully). I have genuinely enjoyed getting to know some new Facebook friends. For Alicia and I, we have been incredibly blessed to connect with other families that live with disability. It has in some cases it has even turned into real friendship. We recently, for example, met Michael and Elizabeth Ferguson from Texas. Michael became paralyzed a few months before Alicia. I assure you that was a pleasant connection to make!
2. A place to reconnect with family and old friends
I have reconnected with people I knew from years ago. I much better keep up with my extended family, cousins and so on, than ever before. I love it too.
3. A place to pray for others
It so easy to stop and pray for a prayer request that scrolls by on your newsfeed. Many of us do it all the time. Without Facebook we never would have even known about it!
4. A place to encourage family values
Call me a sentimental sap, but I love to see people share pictures of their children, or spouse, or loved ones, or a special family event, or enjoyable activities at church. These are good things that are needed in this world. Sometimes I will see a picture of a parent and child doing something together and I will think that I need to do that too!
5. A place to encourage others
Research has shown that we all like what we share to be noticed. How easy it is to hit “like”. It takes just a moment to leave a short comment. How wonderful it is to rejoice when others rejoice, and at times, even weep when they weep. When Alicia’s health problems were at their worst, you would be surprised how encouraging Facebook was to her. Call me weird, but I even love to send a “Happy Birthday” to all my Facebook friends on days I am on to see it. ( A soapbox moment–unless it is vulgar, don’t get worked up about what people share. If you don’t like it, just learn the art of scrolling faster!)
6. A place to give extra encouragement to closest loved ones
Facebook would be a worthless substitute for the ways I should love my loved ones, but it can be a fine little extra ribbon on the package. Facebook programmers knew what they were doing when they made the “closest friends” designation. For example, if my wife is going to take the time to say something in the cyber world I assure you no one is going to be more diligent than me to “like” or comment. If my mother shares a picture from her life, she will know at least one will always look at it. If one of my closest preacher friends shares some ministry news and I see it, I will without fail hit “like”.
7. A place to share my faith
Alicia and I both have several Facebook friends who are not Christians. We are glad to have it that way. We wouldn’t allow that alone to be a factor in accepting a friend request. (We usually only reject devos and those who are up to obvious no-good). Since we both blog and serve in ministry, we actually love it. We just live our lives, share it as anyone would, and in our case, our lives are wrapped up in Jesus Christ. We love Him and His grace brings great joy to our lives, the kind that fills the emptiness we all feel. We are happy that others can see that too.
So I can’t see how anyone could say Facebook is wrong for all. If it is wrong for you, stay away from it. If you don’t enjoy it, that is your choice that we must all respect it. But please don’t have the gall to tell all the rest of us it is wrong. It is simply, as a thousand other things, just what you make of it.
And, please, if you are a preacher don’t cross the line and tell others they cannot be part of social media. Really, who do you think you are? Never forget what the Lord thinks of those who say “Thus sayeth the Lord” when the Lord has not spoken!
Sorry, I have got to go. I need to go see what you have posted today! 🙂
In case you don’t know what a devo is–
Hunting Down The Disability Trolls