Rise and Shine! On Social Media
By Terri C
Lately I feel less and less inclined to spend time on my social media accounts. With it being December and with less than a year until a presidential election, logging in finds me witnessing so much controversy! I can barely stand to scroll through the newsfeed. It’s not the agnostics or atheists that are arguing about who’s right and what’s right, it’s my believing friends! How are we bringing glory to the Name of our God in this manner? Short answer, we’re not! In a time when everyone thinks their opinion is the right opinion, it may seem impossible to shine God’s Light from our own little corner of cyberspace, but we certainly can! The internet is a wonderful tool for people like me who have no sense of “religious” community in their own town. We can lift the spirits of the hurting, and touch the heart of the lonely by a simple comment or message. We have the opportunity, if we’ll use it, to shine God’s light from our profile page. To share messages of peace and hope. To truly make a difference in someone else’s day! I hope that you will take a moment to view your own “page” objectively and see if that Light is shining. If, unintentionally, you’ve been sharing contagious conflict and strife, repent today! Let your site be one that people look forward to visiting.
Before we set about shining God’s Light from our social media, though, we must take the time to make sure we have a secure connection to the Light Source in our own lives. This is done through repentance, prayer and careful Scripture study. Only then can we go about shining That Light instead of casting shadows. Here are some tips if you want to rise and shine on your social media accounts:
- Open THE Book before opening Facebook! It’s easy to check updates on our social accounts as we sip our morning beverage, but it is certainly out of order of how we should begin our day. We know that morning is important to our God, Scripture has so much to say about this time of day! If we want to be fortified for the day ahead, His Word and a few minutes in prayer is where we will find this fortification. Our morning is a top indicator of where we place God on our priority list. If we get in the habit of making Him first on our list every morning, our whole day will most likely follow suit. We can get a good Scripture app for free, and have the icon next to all our social icons right on our phone. Then, we exercise discipline by opening the apps in an appropriate order… Scripture first!
- Control Newsfeed Content. We don’t have to allow others to spread their strife to us! If we notice that a particular person is stuck on spewing garbage or inviting arguments, we can remove them from our feed without removing them from our friend list. We simply select the “unfollow” option. If we want to catch up on their photos or on how they are doing, we can go to their page to do so, without their every post showing up in our feed. It’s okay to have friends who don’t think like we do, but we don’t have to be assaulted by their thoughts or beliefs. “Follow” peaceful people, ones who aren’t prone to find the negatives in everything. People who are going about doing good and making a difference, and not just complaining and finger pointing.
- Research before sharing. It goes without saying (I hope) that there is a lot of misinformation in our feed. Headlines are sometimes paired with old photos, and always add “shock value” to inspire the reader to share. But what should we be sharing, and what is only promoting propaganda? A simple search on our browser before we share a news story will stop us from reposting misinformation. There’s a lot of bad news out there, and there is a lot of good news, too! We are not ignoring the bad stories in the news, not burying our head in the sand. We are just being selective and careful about what “news” we are spreading! We should be seeking discernment before we share posts, to be sure it’s (a) True (b) Respectful and (c) Glorifying God
- Keep disagreements private! When someone comments on our post in a blatantly argumentative way, it is time to take the conversation into a private message to end it promptly. Likewise, we have no business going to another’s post to argue. Like us, they have been granted free will by their Creator, it’s on us to respect that. We must learn the difference between a good discussion with differing points and an outright argument, where neither party will consider anything but their own opinion. It’s important to remember that we are called to be righteous, not right. I know this isn’t easy! I see posts that mangle Scripture all the time to fit the purpose of the poster. This is one of those places I institute my “unfollow” rights! After all, how many times in Scripture are we told that God needs our help to prove His point, His power, or His sovereignty? Zero times.
- Pause before hitting “post”. It’s absolutely wonderful when we receive insight and revelation from God! It can be tempting to “shout from the rooftop” (via social media postings) all the things that we are learning. But does God want us to shout everything from rooftops? Could some of the information He “lights up” for us be just for us? Should we wait until we have more information before making a declaration? Again, discernment is key. Our God is faithful to lead! We can trust that it is Him who grants revelation, just as He has done for us. Sometimes, especially if a concept is new to us, it is better to wait for more understanding before we begin to publically declare things. Never make a post or comment before reading through it first to be sure it is alignment with God’s ways, and never make a post that begins by pointing out another’s “wrongness”. Even when they are dead wrong, we can approach it in a right way!
- Promote your cause with grace. Unfortunately, we do live in times with much bad news along-side the good. Sometimes we must share the “ugly” news to raise awareness for a cause or to inform others of danger. However, we can share even the worst things that truly need to be shared in ways that are informative and helpful. We needn’t buy into the shock value that sells so well. For an example, if we are promoting help for rescue animals, is it really necessary to show pictures of horribly abused animals? Our words can paint the picture. Few things online are as upsetting to me as seeing pictures of a starving and badly abused animal. The image stays in my mind all day, as well as sickening my stomach. Another thing I see a lot of is the homeless being exploited in posts so that the believer can pat himself on the back. We need to promote causes with dignity and taste. I won’t even touch the subject of videos that depict beheadings and the other inhuman ways humans treat other humans! I even see people who share the “x-rated” shenanigans of celebrities to complain about “x-rated” celebrities. Oh, friends, my neck hurts from shaking my head!
Truly, there is so much we can do from our side of the keyboard!
If you’ll allow me, I’d like to share the reason I was prompted to write this post. Many of you already know that I was an atheist until my fortieth year. What you may not know is that I was loud, crude and fueled by stress and strife. I never held my tongue, and never thought of consequences. Within the last month, I have had two people comment on my page about how peaceful I am. Me, peaceful! Their comments really made me think about the process I have experienced in going from stress to peace. I shudder to think of what my page may have looked like had I created it before I began walking with God! Yikes, even in my “Messianic Christian” years, my posts were aimed at showing others how wrong their traditions and beliefs were. HUGE mistake! No one, no not one, came to me and said “Tell me more!”
It was when I walked away from the cross that I heard this sage advice: “Keep your religion personal and your love universal”. The wisdom in that simple sentence rang true for me, and I spent a good deal of time in prayer about it. And so now, I bring God glory in my posts, seeking to be righteous instead of right. Since I have taken this new approach to my postings and my social sites, more people than ever before are coming to me in private messages with questions and for conversations about our Almighty God! There are those who are called to inform, to teach, and that’s what they should be doing! Even in teaching, though, there is a right way and a wrong way. We each play a part in God’s plan if we will set aside our own ego to walk out that part. After all, none of this is about us, and all of it is about God!
We’ll meet again soon, dear reader! Until then…Rise and Shine!