Babylon, an ancient city in the Bible known for its wickedness, has become a symbol for all that is in rebellion in any culture, against the one, true God.
Active grace and truth are the lifestyle pillars of every Christian who longs to be light and salt in an ever-darkening world.
As God-chasers, our behavior on social media throws out energy to our followers either positive or negative. We grossly underestimate how much. For example, when I know there’s a lost dog and a broken-hearted owner in my area, my prayers go up and my eyes are on the lookout. I cheer out loud, alone in my house, when the dog is reunited with their owner. Anyone else?
Sometimes I’m feeling overwhelmed by a life challenge and a friend posts a truth about God or the exact scripture I need in that moment. My day changes. Think about the times social media posts cheered your soul or broke your heart. The times it angered you or made you laugh out loud. Think of the valuable knowledge you’ve acquired reading articles. Do not underestimate your influence on social media. Many people will read your stuff and never let you know with a “like” but that doesn’t mean you haven’t impacted them. The question is, am I bringing light to other’s lives or inviting darkness closer?
Babylon is working to be supreme ruler over all social media. This has become all too obvious over the last few years. When a social media site allows pornography and posts about pedophilia being an acceptable lifestyle, that’s Babylon’s influence. When pro-life posts are shadow-banned or removed entirely, that’s Babylon flexing its muscles. Stuff like this is obvious to even a new believer but I think Babylonian values subtly creep into the social media behavior of many who call themselves Christians also. Stick with me and I’ll show you how.
Some people only know us in the virtual world. Even relationships built in real time, at some point, might stay connected now only by what turns up on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Gab, etc. etc. due to geography. I don’t live in my hometown, so the only stuff my hometown friends know about my life today is via social media pages. All they know about my real time walk with God is by seeing what I post and how I behave in the virtual world.
Whether you live on it or can’t stand the sight of it, social media is a large part of our culture, for now. Likes and dislikes. Shares, pins, and reposts. Groups, pages, hangouts, tribes. Ads managers, avatars, analytics, and algorithms. Clickbait and conversion rates. This world speaks its own language and contains its own rather fluid set of standards. The influence of social media is even more profound than I realized until I researched this article. Check out these statistics from the website, “Supermoney” an online financial management tool.
1. Facebook is now listed as a leading cause for divorce, in the United States. (Leading? Wow.)
2. 91% of mobile data is used for social media.
3. Social media generates more than double the marketing leads of trade shows and telemarketing.
4. The rates for new users joining LinkedIN is 2 users per second.
5. There are 684,478 pieces of content shared on Facebook during every minute of every day.
6. YouTube reaches more U.S. adults aged 18-34 than any cable network.
Millions of God-followers and ministries recognize social media’s potential to profoundly reach and influence people. They use it to spread the gospel and biblical content wisely and well. Simultaneously, millions of God followers sometimes find themselves caught up in Babylonian nonsense on social media. Behavior and words we we’d never use face to face, make their way into our media accounts.
As with any technology, social media is not good or evil on its own. Human creators and administrators define what each platform will allow and what each platform will censor. In recent years, several creators and management teams unintentionally revealed themselves as heavily favoring Babylon’s agenda by blocking and censoring godly values and principles. That alone should warn Christians to be overly cautious for that lion who continuously prowls social media to see who he can attack and devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
I want to challenge myself and you to reflect on some Babylon attitudes, behaviors, and patterns I’ve noticed on social media among believers in Jesus over the last ten years or so, including myself. When we act like Babylon instead of Jesus, we hurt the body of Christ and her reputation.
Hear my heart, I’m not yelling at you. I am trying to alert you. Matthew 12:36 warns us that we will need to give an accounting for every careless word we’ve spoken in this life. Pretty sure that includes social media. I confess that I’ve participated in all three things on the following list. Every. Single. Thing. Here’s my list.
1. Writing words that may be true but don’t sound like Jesus. If we absolutely need to disagree with someone virtually, we need to use more energy choosing words, than we do in real life, or write nothing. We. Do. Not. Have. To. Weigh. In. On. Everything. Face to face, people can hear our tone of voice and read our body language. To sound humble, respectful, and openhearted with written words alone is more difficult. Emotional rants, snarky remarks, sarcastic words and a general, “If you don’t agree with me, you’re an idiot,” attitude are appearing too freely in the body of Christ online. I’ve also been noticing a lot of scolding tones towards those who see things differently from us.
2.Weighing in on controversial matters without an adequate understanding of authenticated facts.
The Bible talks about this. Proverbs 19:2 calls it “zeal without knowledge.” Proverbs 18:2 says, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” For example, we can start spouting off about a situation half a world away that we know very little about. Worse, we dismiss or argue with those who don’t see it our way. We unfriend or unfollow them.
How often do we take the time to learn the history and background of a local, national or geopolitical situation before we start typing? Are we seeking God, the source of all truth, concerning a matter before we create or share posters and memes? “I don’t have the time to research politics and world events.” If that’s true, then why are we posting opinions? Instead let’s hold our fingers back until God makes a situation clearer to us if he chooses to do so. First impressions of these things are often wrong. We’d serve the kingdom far better by praying through these situations rather than being quick to post about them.
3. Parroting famous “Christians,” without taking time to observe their integrity and lifestyle.
This is an epidemic in the body of Christ right now. A new voice will arise in the virtual world who sounds godly and is clever with social media and, boom, millions of God-followers are reposting and quoting them. We know little to nothing about these people in real time and yet we are giving more mileage to their words with shares and reposts sometimes even when they contradict sound theology and doctrine. Because we loooooooove them. They’re so fresh and cutting edge.
Unfortunately, some of these people we idolize never experienced an authentic encounter with Jesus. Some did, but do not understand the whole “living in the world but not of it,” part of being a God follower. I recently read some social media posts of a woman with over a hundred thousand followers, whom I know is adored by many young, believing women. Her crude language and disrespectful attitude towards those who disagree with her politics and beliefs saddened me so much.
It used to be that we quoted people because we read their books or biographies, their historical record or observed their life up close. This approach allows time to better know the character of a person before we start imitating them and passing their ideas to others. Remember Jesus told us that there would be wolves in sheep’s clothing, tares among the wheat. Why are we giving them more mileage with our retweets, pins, and shares?
The answer to my title question is, “Yes, Jesus is on Instagram,” and every other social media platform where we, his brothers and sisters, God’s family, are involved. We represent him well, or poorly, with every post, every comment, every share, every like, and every recommendation.
My final challenge is for each of us to look honestly at our social media behavior. Does it look and sound like Jesus by bringing, hope, graciousness, patience, encouragement, truth, laughter, love and light or does it stink of Babylon a little? Are you arguing with or snarking at people, especially people you’ve never even met? Did you unfriend folks because they don’t agree with you about politics or health issues? I know I can still come up higher in this area, how about you? It’s never too late to allow God to clean up our act and help us walk rightly. Remember those little “What would Jesus do,” bracelets we wore? I think we better start draping those around our phones and computers.