Social Media can be very useful in keeping up with friends, family, and for expressing important (or soapbox) opinions and views about current events. It is also paramount for presenting ideas to niche markets for businesses, and an outlet for ministries and organizations to reach people groups they might have not reached (as easily) in traditional markets.
It is, however, an unwieldy beast. One can be consumed and exasperated very easily by getting sucked into the endless “trolling” and incessant flow of controversial/useless content. As a Christian it is hard to read something offensive to Christ and not respond. It is equally as difficult as an apologist to not push back on illogical opinions and self-refuting articles/essays. The problem lay in there not being enough hours in the day to plug every leaky sieve, and not everyone is interested in linear logic and reasoning.
I found myself in a similar situation when I started with Way of the Master evangelism training. My wife and I were overwhelmed by the vast number of lost souls in our spheres of influence and beyond. A friend of ours told us to take a breath. He reminded us that we weren’t the only ones who were doing this, and God was big enough to have others also sharing to the same people. We were showing symptoms of the Prophet Complex (Romans 11:2-5).
Elijah hid himself in a cave, running from Jezebel, and he complained to God that he was the only one left who was living and speaking for God. God quickly rebuffed him that He had 7,000 others who had not bowed their knees to Baal. I feel this also can apply to us. We don’t have to have the answer for every objection and every person. Let’s pushback where we can, pray for the situation when we can’t, and hope/trust in God that he will bring to light what needs to be brought to light.
It is a necessary practice for us to begin to pray and fast for those within our sphere of influence. The Holy Spirit can do great preparation for a person’s soul that logical arguments may not be able to penetrate. The conversations flow so much easier when a person’s heart is prepared to hear the Gospel.
I have lost, or rather misused, countless hours arguing to some random person on the internet, only to have missed opportunities to connect to those around me; those I can build real relationship with and live out Christianity. I did glean from those social media conversations and reading an insane amount of online articles. I sharpened my mind and my arguments, so it wasn’t a total loss but I could’ve had better use of some of my time.
There is a fine balance that is required here. Push back is definitely needed on social media, here are few ways to engage it, keep your sanity, and maybe make a difference in someone’s life.
1. Present your argument concisely and graciously.
If we formulate our statements as questions, it allows honest dialogue to naturally arise. This also tells others that there is an opposing logical argument. It allows people who may not read sound Christian arguments to have the opportunity.
“Why do you think this…?”
The problem can arise that people believe the prevailing arguments of pop culture because there is not an opposing, sound reason to counter. They simply didn’t know there were viable options other than pop opinions.
2. Find the social media medium that is the best fit for you and your message.
A lot of the younger generations get their news and information, that formulate and create their worldview, are assimilated and gathered on social media. If we have no presence then we have missed a great opportunity. If Christians presented a sound, logical Christian worldview, permeated with Grace and Compassion, and a life lived in true intimacy the Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It would become increasingly difficult for the illogical to masquerade as logical.
I use Twitter (@wesleymullins), Facebook (Wes Mullins), Business Page Facebook (Mullins Media) , Instagram (@jwmullins), Good Warfare Communications (Webpage), JW Mullins (Webpage) and iTunes (Everyday Apologetics).
3. Sharpen your sickle.
I Peter 3:15 tells us,
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (NIV)
It is vitally important that we do not falter as presenting our testimony to others, and our growth in the Grace and Knowledge of Jesus Christ. We should readily know what we believe and why we believe it, and be able to articulate it clearly.
Jesus admonished his disciples that there are 3 levels of a relationship with God.
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'” (Matthew 22:37, NIV)
JP Moreland encourages us to undergo this journey to challenge our intellectually relationship with God in his must read book, Loving God with All Your Mind. It is our responsibility to understand God given the tools we have: Theology, Philosophy, Math, Science, Poetry, Art, etc..
Jesus is also indicating that we have the ability to control all three aspects of this love.
4. Toughen up your skin. Don’t be a martyr and/or jerk every time some one asks you a tough question or comes back with a snarky/unsavory comment.
Paul encourages us that we need to grow. We need to have growth in intimacy in our relationship with Jesus.
“But I, brothers,could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh[...]” (1 Corinthians 3:1-2, ESV)
Name calling and actual arguing is never acceptable behavior for Christians. We are not meant to stir up strife, only to stand our ground and present the Gospel. It takes discipline to mature in Christ, but it is necessary and the natural progression. Our child-like faith is not to be construed and manifested as childish behavior.(Matthew 18:3)
5. “I don’t know” is an acceptable and correct answer.
There are a plethora of reasons why we can’t answer a person’s question. It may be that we aren’t familiar with the topic, or maybe they don’t want the question answered, etc. Some people are perpetual skeptics and only bring questions but never accept or contemplate answers. We can only offer what we know and how we know it. The person’s response is never up to us.
6. Take a break every so often. Untether yourself from the virtual leash.
Turn off the computer. Put the phone down. Have a game night with your friends, or go for a walk with your family. There have been no new (significant) questions in philosophy or religion in the last few millennia. I think the world can wait a day or so before you respond to a theological or philosophical quandry.
In closing, the internet can be a great resource or a great time waster. We do not want to be like a ‘boxer who beats the air’ or ‘a runner who runs aimlessly’ (I Corinthians 9:26). Let us unite on this technological and cultural front, but let us do it so we are “wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:6).
Now I am going to post this to social media. I hope this will not be a waste of your time, but an encouragement to you and your journey.
Please email me with any questions or concerns with this post, email@example.com