Christians on Facebook: Goals and Pitfalls

Facebook is becoming the Wal-Mart of the Internet. Everyone goes there. I still remember the first time someone asked me if I was “on Facebook” because I gave them a look that instantly revealed I was not cool enough to even know what they were talking about. This could not stand!
I had to be cool enough to understand what they were talking about. If I didn’t know what they were talking about there’s no way I was ever going to be cool enough to mock it and make them feel bad for liking it! (Yes, my sense of humor really is that cruel, God help me)

Obviously, I signed onto the Facebook world for the wrong reasons and was bit by the Facebook fun bug. Since joining (I think in 2007) I’ve tried to use FB for redemptive reasons rather than selfish cruel ones and have developed my own personal set of goals to reach for and pitfalls to avoid.

So, if you’re on MySpace (i.e., the abandoned Pamida of the Internet), Facebook, Twitter or some other form of social media, I hope you’re challenged and encourage by the content below.

Pitfalls
1. The Need for My Own Personal Fame
Let’s be honest. We want people to think that we’re the most clever, funny, insightful, spiritual, happy…whatever…people they’ve ever met. Status updates have made this even easier. Now, I can get on Facebook, share my witty (insightful, spiritual, clever, ironic, or cleverly plagiarized) comment and in an instant it is fed to multiple homepages for all to see how witty (insightful, spiritual, clever or ironic) I am.
Sometimes we want to do this because we honestly want to share something that we find personally funny or insightful and sharing it completes the experience of our own enjoyment. I believe this is pretty harmless. Sometimes, though, maybe even often, we do this for the attention and the fame, judging the merit of each status update based on how many people “like this” or spend their valuable time commenting on it.
I know that I am still prideful enough to use Facebook to stroke my own ego and often ask myself, “Is this one for my own fame?” It often is.

2. Facebook: The Time Vampire
Facebook has the ability to suck the time right out of the veins of my day. I do not remember where I read it, but a pastor once wrote something to the effect of this:

Facebook exists so that we will have no excuse before God when He asks why we didn’t have time to pray.”

Is Facebook a reason I don’t have time to pray or study my Bible? If it is, then it’s not worth it and is becoming the master over my devotional life. In I Corinthians 6:12 Paul establishes a good perspective for things that are not necessarily prohibited by a Christian ethic, but may be used and abused by us to our detriment and destruction.

All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything.”

Good advice for any era.

Goals
1. Gracious, Strategic Evangelism
John Piper states well, I think,

“I see two kinds of response to social Internet media like blogging, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and others. One says: These media tend to shorten attention spans, weaken discursive reasoning, lure people away from Scripture and prayer, disembody relationships, feed the fires of narcissism, cater to the craving for attention, fill the world with drivel, shrink the soul’s capacity for greatness, and make us second-handers who comment on life when we ought to be living it. So boycott them and write books (not blogs) about the problem.

The other response says: Yes, there is truth in all of that, but instead of boycotting, try to fill these media with as much provocative, reasonable, Bible-saturated, prayerful, relational, Christ-exalting, truth-driven, serious, creative pointers to true greatness as you can.”

I think there’s a lot of wisdom in that. As Christians we’re called to reflect the image of Christ. So, as mini-redeemers, I think it makes sense to use Facebook in a redemptive way. Write notes about your faith. Post links to encouraging, challenging sermons. Promote the Christian books you’re reading in your status updates. Reach out to a friend or two, on occasion, with grace and patience that doesn’t know the joy of Christ. In other words, don’t waste your Facebook Profile on yourself.

2. Encouraging and Building Up the Body of Christ
One of the primary goals of Christian living is the edification, the encouragement, and the building up of the body of Christ and so Facebook should be used in my life to encourage and build up wherever possible.
Romans 14:17-19, “17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

And in I Corinthians 12-14 Paul mentions that all things be done in the body for the encouragement and building up of the body and he mentions it no less than 10 times.

If I can’t think of a way to be on Facebook without encouraging someone in Christ, building up the body, then…well…I should probably, at least, consider why I’m on it.
To God be the Glory (even on Facebook)!

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