“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35
The internet and social media has given this generation the greatest platform of communication the world has ever known. In seconds, anyone’s message can circle the globe and potentially reach millions of people. The potential is mind blowing. Potential for great good or great evil. A tweet can impact countless lives and have endless unintended consequences. While I love the freedom of this platform, I’ve become increasingly weary of how irresponsible and irreverent people can be with it. Especially among professing Christians. Apparently, there’s little thought about how the biblical principles of communication for saints applies to the public forum. If an unbeliever had to determine the validity of our profession of faith based on the way we talk to and about one another on the internet, would they know that we are Christ’s disciples by our love for one another. I’ve been very introspective about this recently and I’ve asked myself several questions.
- 1. Can I trust what I read on the internet? The amount of misinformation about me and others that I’ve heard in local ministry settings is of ridiculous proportions. How much more on platforms like the internet where accountability is at its lowest level. I’ve become much slower to believe anything I see online before I fact check it. Error is epidemic.
- 2. Just because I learn something on the internet, do I have the right to repeat it? I’ve squashed gossip when it’s come to me personally because it would be inappropriate or sinful to share it with others. Why am I so anxious to “share” it on Facebook or retweet it on Twitter?
- 3. Is the commandment to go to my brother and communicate offenses “between you and him alone” (Matt. 18:15) not binding on the internet? Why am I privy to so much information that should only be discussed between the parties involved? Christians should take great pause before airing private business for the world to see. Biblically, only the people appropriately involved in an issue should be included in discussing it.
- 4. Are we lacking knowledge in our zeal to “confront” or “expose” error or sin? The internet has become the place for great crusades against error. Everyone seems obliged to inform the world publicly of every error they learn about. Heresy and sin should be exposed, but only through biblical processes and I’m not usually part of that process.
- 5. If a scandal goes public, does that give me the right to insert myself into the conversation? What if the scandal had no business going public? As enticing as it is to add my two cents worth (probably less than that on the internet), it’s probably best for a wise man to hold his tongue or twitter finger.
- 6. If someone is famous or well known, are they open game or am I obligated to bypass the biblical process to go straight to the public lynching phase? It seems that the more well known someone is, the less restraint is given to my opinions, posts, replies, retweets, etc.
- 7. Does this passage apply to words posted or tweeted? “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” – Matthew 12:36-37. Hmm.
I’m learning to take pause before I participate. Will you?