I love Facebook. I love looking at peoples’ photos (and posting my own); being reminded of everyone’s birthday, and generally getting a glimpse into the lives of people I care about. I love how we can share ideas, and express our opinions on Facebook too!
For us as Christians though, each of these form part of our Christian life. Each of these actions on Facebook give us a chance to honour God in what we say and share, and each of them gives us a chance to dishonour him. Do we say things on Facebook we wouldn’t say in “real life”…or do we say the same things ( just to a different audience)?
As Christians we’re generally aware that what we say to and about people matters. We know that we are to love our neighbour as ourselves (including what we say about them), and that we are to watch our tongue. In James 2 we’re told that a lot can be said of a person’s spiritual state by the things they say.
I’m sure we all understand that we use Facebook to “say” things and we all need to reflect on what it is we’re saying, and what that indicates about the state of our hearts.
None more so that when we speak of our government, and our country’s leaders.
I realise that we currently have a position in our country that is not ideal. We have issues with corruption, and uncertainty, as well as the usual problems of crime etc. Things are not so great.
But: Here are a number of things that we as Christians need to be aware of when we “speak” of our government and leaders on Facebook.
A: Our leaders are people created in the image of God
James 2:9-10 reads: “With it [the tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”(italics added). When we curse our leaders, by calling them idiots, or fools, or anything of the like, we are doing with our tongues, things that we ought not to do. And as James asks – what does this say of our spiritual state (see vv11-12)?
What does this say about our view of those created in God’s image? Yes, we can disagree with people; yes, we can view and mourn the impact of sin on all of our lives (making sure we don’t forget to look carefully at our lives 1st), but what do we say to God about the people he has made when we call them “idiots”, or “morons”, or liken them to animals?
Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble. (Pro 21:23)
B: We are witnesses for Christ when we are on Facebook
How do our comments, posts and likes reflect on Jesus? What do our Facebook friends see of our treatment of people when we insult and abuse our government? They see Christians acting no differently toward people than anyone else. Friends – in all we do on Facebook – we need to think and act responsibly, because just like when we’re at home, at a party, or anywhere, we are ambassadors for Christ.
What platform are you creating for a discussion about Jesus & his command that we love our neighbours when we’ve just called someone an idiot?
C: God has given us our government
Romans 13:1 reads: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”
At this present time, our government is not directly ordering us to act in an ungodly manner. In contrast, we are given freedom to worship, to express our faith, and to share the gospel. This is a freedom that New Testament believers, and many Christians today did not have. We need to be grateful for this.
We are also privileged to be part of a system which legally allows for disagreement and opposition. The manner in which we use this will be telling.
Ultimately though, our treatment of our government and authorities, will reflect in some way our views on the sovereignty of God in allowing (for whatever reason) the government we have.
Facebook is one of the many points of contact between Christians and the rest of the world. As such, our instructions in 1 Peter 2:12, are still valid: “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honourable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God the day of visitation.”
If we are spoken ill of, the point Peter is making, let it not be because we are doing ill. Let’s keep our deeds, our words, and our Facebook posts honourable, so that we are witness to the people around us, and the people on our Facebook feeds, of the difference of a life lived for and through Christ.