There’s an art to effective Facebook posting.
And I’m admitting at the start that I’ve never mastered it. I realize, of course, that this article might be a moot point in a few years: Facebook seems to be going the way of Myspace. The problem with anything internet related is that, before long, the internet-ness of it rears its ugly head and consumes it.
So, whether Facebook disappears, or whether you use a different social media outlet altogether, the principles still apply. So, whenever you read Facebook, just substitute your social media of choice.
Several of my Christian friends have recently deleted their Facebook accounts. They say it disquiets them. Too much controversy. Too much self-comparison. Too many advertisements.
I’ve had a mind to do the same; my Facebook activity has waned the last few months. But as I thought through why, it dawned on me just how hard it is to Facebook effectively. In my fallen, natural mind, I worry that even a Bible quote can appear smug. Even though I can’t stop readers from misinterpreting my updates, I can safeguard my social media use with three basic questions:
How does it affect me?
How does it affect others?
Does it glorify Christ?
And in thinking through those three questions, three opportunities kept coming to mind.
Facebook Should Further God’s Chief Saving Purpose: Knowing Him
Paul counts all things as loss in the surpassing value of knowing Christ (Phil. 3:8-10). So serious was the Apostle, he decided in Corinth “to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). In fact, knowing Christ is at the very top of Paul’s prayer list for the Ephesian church, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him” (Eph. 1:17). I’m glad that Facebook has done so much good in directing people to Christ. But if you find that the medium distracts you more than it directs you, if it tears at your trust in Christ more than it builds it, here’s a radically simple suggestion: just log off. Please don’t misunderstand, I love funny videos, family photos, and ironic updates just as much as anyone. The point is this: Facebook is not a required activity; if it doesn’t help you know Christ better, avoid it.
Facebook is an Opportunity for Wise Speech
Facebook provides an amazing platform for interaction with seemingly every world affair. And Christians too often feel the need to weigh in. This opportunity, however, is not new. D. Martyn-Lloyd Jones, writing in 1965, said, “There are those who feel that at a time like this, it is the business of the Christian preacher and the Christian church constantly to be making comments on the general situation. There are many people who say … ‘Have you not read the newspaper or even heard the report on the wireless? Don’t you see the whole state of the world? Why don’t you make some pronouncement on the world situation or on the state of the nations!’ My simple answer to such talk is this. What I, or a number of preachers, or the entire Christian Church, may say about the whole situation will probably not effect it at all …. That is not the business of Christian preaching.”
Wise words heal. Facebook provides the unique opportunity to borrow speech by re-posting articles, liking a comment, or sharing a thought. These features, on their face, seem like a non-contentious way of taking a side. But I would caution extreme care. “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18). As passionately as you may feel about a certain topic, be certain that it cannot be classified as “irreverent babble” that leads believers into contentious ungodliness (1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim. 2:16). Man’s ultimate problem is not educational, parental, medical, or political. Man needs redemption. Does your activity contribute redemptively?
Wise words hold back. “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man keeps himself under control” (Prov. 29:11). Paul says it this way, “let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer each person” (Col. 4:6). I would encourage you to consider Lloyd-Jones’s quote: lending voice to controversial topics is not the believer’s ultimate calling. Or, consider Jesus. Someone shouted to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus’s response wouldn’t make waves on Facebook, “Man, who made me judge or arbiter over you?” (Luke 12:14). The Judge of all nations, the King of kings, refused to weigh in.
Facebook Can Be a Wonderful Platform for Christ
This cuts right to the heart of our purposes here at Rooted Thinking. Publishing success demands that we “build a platform” and “cultivate a brand.” If we’re relevant and current, our Facebook and Twitter numbers will skyrocket, they say. But that’s never been our goal. We exist to provide quality Christian content no matter how many read it. A quest for relevance and up-to-date-ness might just get us in trouble. Besides, self-promotion is the poison pill inherent in every social media construct.
So, when I hear talk of building a platform, I’m reminded of Paul’s words to the Corinthians, “For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11). If there’s any platform at all, it must be Christ and Him alone. Christ is the great subject of any Christian ministry.
Facebook is a marvelous tool that can be used to varying degrees of effectiveness or detriment. And for all those using this tool well, thank you. Think hard about how you use social media, because the Body of Christ is reading. Consider what it does to your soul, what it does to others, and most importantly, what it does for Christ.