Would Jesus be "Online"?
If you're like most people, you spend some time each day online. And it's no secret that online communication can be a challenge. If we want our lives to reflect Jesus, we need to be sure we're being intentional about our online communication!
When you're online, where do you spend most of your time?
What's your purpose in being online? It's not a trick question - but you might find it helpful to think through what drives you to spend time online...
What the Bible Says
Romans 12:1 says, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."
When the bible says "present your bodies as a living sacrifice", do you think this refers to only your physical body? Think about this for a minute - could any of the following answers apply to this verse?
- Present your FINANCES as a living sacrifice...
- Present your RELATIONSHIPS as a living sacrifice...
- Present your TIME as a living sacrifice...
- Present the WAY YOU COMMUNICATE as a living sacrifice...
Defining who you are "Online"
In your own words, describe what you think the term "online profile" means?
The term "online profile" is very broad.
To advertisers, it's how and when you click on ads and make purchases.
To businesses that provide technical support, it means the configuration of your computer and how it interacts with websites on the internet.
For our purposes, we're defining "online profile" as the social impact you have based on your interaction on social media sites (and even through email).
This might be a difficult question, but if a complete stranger were to look at your online profile, would it point to Jesus?
- Some days... but not always.
- I've never thought about this before - and pretty sure Jesus doesn't come through the way I'd like.
- I work hard to be sure Jesus is clear.
More bible instructions
Here's what Paul says about interacting with people. Clearly he wasn't "online", but he sure did get around!
Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn't take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I've become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn't just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it! - 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 The Message
According to this bible verse, our presence - and especially our online presence, has the ability to influence others for Jesus. So the question becomes, "How will we use our presence on the internet INTENTIONALLY to share our faith?"
Examples: Don't Do This!
Here are some examples of posts on some social media sites from people I know who are Christians….
Only a deep and abiding belief in KARMA keeps me off the rooftop with an AK-47.
Should I get drunk now or should I get very drunk now? or am I drunk already? I'd better have a drink and think about it.
How to better influence others for Jesus online!
I have 3 suggestions for improving your online profile.
1. Pray. Make your online presence a reflection of your relationship with Jesus. It’s not about us, it’s about Him. Ask God what you should do/say in each interaction you have online.
2. Clarify your purpose. Why are you online? And how can you “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God” in every word or keystroke? Approach your online activities by asking:
- Will this be encouraging?
- Will this glorify God?
- Am I responding/posting out of anger?
- Who can I encourage today?
- How can I stand as an example of the love of Jesus to people who don’t know Him?
- Will participating in this discussion be helpful to the cause of Jesus Christ?
3. Act intentionally. Decide in advance what you're going to do!
- I will send ___ messages of encouragement today. Ways to encourage could mean things like a picture post, a private message or a positive comment.
- When you see someone in trouble – RESPOND. Stay involved with younger, unsaved women to look for opportunities to offer a Jesus solution. Recent real posts that needed a Christian response:
- I guess its really time to stop making excuses and get the ball rolling in the correct direction.... so tired of waking up hating my life. Need to find the right motivation for me.
- So my bad day just became worse. And now I'm crying... Stupid day!
- Ever wanted a clean slate??
- So I started my one year of sobriety for my new years resolution. Its harder then Imagined but I'm hopeful that ill be able to accomplish it!
- Im beyond freaking caring anymore. I just keep waiting for a change thats never going to happen. So (bad word) it I'm done.
- See each “public” communication as a “ministry opportunity”.
- Create a “private" list or group for family/close friends for private/sensitive communications.
- Don’t just “share” pictures if you don’t know the source (because the name of the person/group sharing can be offensive/contradict the message of Jesus). If you don't know the source, download the picture - then upload it instead of sharing it. It takes a minute longer, but insures you aren't unintentionally promoting something icky.
Some common objections:
- "When I see someone using offensive language I unfriend them immediately." If you have trouble with offensive language, you may find it helpful to end the online relationship. BUT you could also be losing an opportunity to be helpful to someone in trouble. I see a lot of younger women who are struggling with staying focused on Jesus in the midst of a world that promotes a different set of values...and you may read some things that are offensive. I can choose to unfriend them, or I can try to find ways to come alongside them and encourage them. You'll have to decide what this looks like for yourself.
- "Don't I have the right to just be who I am without thinking about everything as a "ministry opportunity"? Technically, yes. But you might want to go back to the verse we started out with, Romans 12:1 - and decide if you think "present your bodies as a living sacrifice" means the way you communicate, or not. Here is what I try to ask myself when deciding if I should post or share something via social media: Is what I'm about to write going to glorify God?
- "Aren't you taking this a little seriously? After all, it's just Facebook..." Well... maybe have a look at another verse that explains the "why" a bit better, "Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body." - 1 Corinthians 6:19
Examples: DO THIS!
Here are some examples of some recent posts on Facebook that you might find helpful. Simple encouragements to anyone who might read them.
Every online word has an impact, like a pebble dropped into water – it creates a ripple that continues well beyond our original meaning. Let’s be sure our actions are pleasing to God – in a very real sense, eternal life itself could be at stake.