On faith, Facebook, and e-fights

faith facebook efightsCan I start this post out with a confession?

I like discussing things on the internet.

When I was in high school, the local bands I was friends with all had message boards on their band website. I would join the boards and talk with all sorts of people who were the same age as me and had similar interests. I met a lot of awesome people, some of who turned out to be great friends.

I also learned how to argue on the internet.

When you’re 16, you think you know it all. Now imagine you’re with a bunch of other 16 year olds on a computer talking about something you’re passionate about. Whether it was politics, religion, sports, or anything else, we’d have it out on the message boards.

Most of the discussions started civil.

Then we’d disagree.

And then we’d start calling each other stupid.

It’d go back and forth with people trying to get in their best one liner to make the other person feel stupid.

And, when the topic had run its course, we’d find a new one and do it all over again.

You may not have grown up on the message boards of crappy local bands, but I bet that scenario sounds awfully familiar to you.

What I just described is what social media (and especially Facebook) has turned into in 2015.

We post articles about gay marriage, racism, and Republicans and wait for the comments to come flooding in.

We share a cheesy “Share this if you agree” memes about the American flag being second only to God or how Obama sucks.

Or we tag a friend in the comments if articles with headlines wrapped in click-bait.

And why do we do it?

At the end of the day, it’s just a way to prove we’re smarter than everyone around us.

In reality, what we’re proving is that we don’t care about our friends who may disagree with us.

Last week I heard a quote from a guy named Tim Schraeder. He said, “Evangelism in the digital age is more about how we live our lives online than what we say or do in real life.”

Evangelism today is more about how we live our lives online than what we say or do in real life. Click To Tweet

Whether we like it or not, the people around us are judging us by what we are endorsing on our social media profiles. They judge what we share, like, comment on, pin, retweet, and favorite.

Need proof?

I had lunch with a guy a couple weeks ago. We were talking business and I mentioned someone I knew here in town. The guy I was having lunch with heard the name and said, “I think I know that guy. He’s the one who’s always sharing ridiculous stuff on Facebook all day, right?”

He didn’t know the guy because of his business.

He knew the guy because of his Facebook opinions.

When we share things that divide relationships down political, racial, or generational lines, we distance ourselves from being able to leverage those relationships for the Gospel.

Conversations about Jesus will not happen over debates about gun rights and the Confederate flag.

I have an opinion on almost every issue facing our country today. You will not see me write about those opinions here or on any of my social media accounts.

Those conversations best happen across the table, at the bar, or on the couch with another person where facial expressions and tone of voice can be interpreted.

There are places to discuss the significant things going on around us, but social media is not that place.

I’ll leave you with a question that I’ve been asking myself since I heard Tim speak last week:

If someone who didn’t know Jesus were to see your social media account, would they see a follower of Jesus or an angry political activist?

Politics are meaningful.

Jesus is vital.

Politics are meaningful. Jesus is vital. Click To Tweet

Say your prayers and take your vitamins.

Have a nice day.

-Jonathan

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