Lately, I have been using Facebook and Twitter more and more. I must admit I was late on the social media scene. I told my wife when Facebook started that it was just a fad, like Myspace, and soon it will be replaced by something else. Boy was I wrong! Now that I am on there I find that all these social media tools can help people connect in ways that were unthinkable 20 years ago. These tools are also being used by churches and ministries to glorify God.
But recently as I was on Facebook just looking at all the updates, I read about someone squabbling with someone else. Leaving subliminal updates on their page about the conflict. Not mentioning by name the person, but if you know them and what is going on you know who they are talking about. I know you have read messages like this too. Normally, i would read it and ignore it or just blow right by it. But when I read it, something just bothered me. I was thinking “this doesn’t seem right.” The reason I was thinking this is because the squabble was between Christians on Facebook for all their friends to see. As I read this John 13:35 kept repeating in my mind “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35 ESV)
Now at the same time I was reading this stuff on Facebook, I was also writing a paper for class on a passage in Matthew 18. In Mathew 18:15-20 we read the guidelines we are to follow if a fellow Christian wrongs us. Now as all this was going on I was thinking “in our social media world how does this apply to us now?” To be forthright, the same way it applied to the early church, it applies to us. Jesus, knowing that we would offend each other, gave us guidelines to follow as Christians to deal with conflict when it arises. The guidelines are pretty straightforward deal with it one on one, if that doesn’t work deal with it with 2 or 3 witnesses, if that doesn’t work go before your church elders. I have only seen it go to the last step once! After many attempts the person was removed from church membership. After a couple of years the person repented and was restored to the church fellowship.
I understand that things get sticky when we have people from different churches in a conflict. There is another time and blog for that. But it doesn’t benefit anyone to place subliminal messages or in your face messages on Facebook when Jesus clearly outlines how we are to deal with conflicts. More importantly, how are we showing all people that we are His disciples by posting our conflicts for the world to see on Facebook, Twitter or Google +? I am not advocating for Christians to just ignore conflicts, but what I am asking is for Christians to follow the Biblical model that Jesus left for His followers and not to hurt the testimony of Christ with your Facebook, Twitter or Google + postings.
In this age of social media Christians really need to develop a Social Media Theology and follow it. If we wouldn’t say it in the presence of Christ then we probably shouldn’t hit “post” or “tweet” and I am not sure what they do on Google + but, you get the point. Let us as Christians, with the help of the Holy Spirit, live up to the words of Jesus, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35 ESV)