testimony

Social Media: The Anti-Gospel?

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Social media is an amazing gift, and I for one take full advantage of it.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I am one that can be found commenting on Facebook far more than the average person.  I enjoy the conversations, and the chance to connect with people I would not normally connect with.  Instead of making my friendships shallower, as some claim, Facebook has expanded my friendships and added a depth that may not have already existed.  I have also made friends with people from my church and neighborhood that I might not have made before, and even have friends around the country and world with people I have never met face to face.  These are people who I love, and would warmly welcome into my home if they ever passed through Kansas City.

There is one portion of social media, though, that greatly greaves my heart.  Sadly, it is also something that I see every single day.  Something that I think does a disservice to the Gospel message, and the Kingdom of God

Each day, as I log onto my account, I see multiple examples of harsh, mean spirited posts directed at others.  Most of the time these are directed at groupings of non-believers, or other Christians which hold views much different than the original poster.  Many times these posts could be filed in the realm of political ideology, but I have seen a vast array of subjects being used in this way, from parenting, to social issues, to theological issues.

As I read these posts, I do not necessarily disagree with the poster.  Many times in fact, the people I see on my friends list I agree with 100%, and if we met over lunch we would discuss the topic in detail, while giving high fives and performing chest bumps.  I love my brothers and sisters in Christ, and am excited to see them passionate about important things.  Many times, I also believe that theologically they are on the right side of the understanding.

The portion that bothers me, though, is that Facebook is not having coffee with friends.  Facebook is not sharing information during a small group.  Facebook is open, and public, and the entire world can see.

When I see a post praying for God to come quickly and purge the Liberal scum from the earth, I know that not only conservatives are reading this.

When I read that evil queers are taking over the world, there is a good chance that homosexuals are reading it.

When I see a post that declares that anyone who agrees with Obama is an idiot, I think of what the person who voted for Obama is thinking.

These types of posts fill my news feed on a daily bases, and many times come from sweet, loving, Godly people.  People I know would never walk up to a gay couple and tell them that they hope they are purged and sent to Hell soon.  People who are great friends with members of a different political party.

These posts, and the attitude that is behind them, is doing more than just creating Facebook arguments.  It is having the opposite impact on the world, than the impact we are supposed to have.  It is harming the churches Gospel witness and building barriers in people’s lives, between them and the Gospel.

A False Gospel

This barrier is first being placed by the fact that to all observable evidence to the non-believer, the Gospel we preach is not a Gospel of love and grace, but instead we are preaching a gospel against sin.  These posts work as a vehicle to try to pile shame upon those who we feel are not living correctly.  Many times non-Christians who we feel are not living under the direction of the Holy Spirit and Biblical teaching.  Although we would never say this, we are working to Christianize non-believers, all while ignoring their eternal soul.  When the conversation does blow-up and anger is already invading the conversation we might lay out a Gospel backhand for good measure.  Maybe.

Like Pharisees of old, we are trying to make sure that the outside of others is glistening while, while the inside still contains the bones of a dead man.

A Further Offense

The second barrier that is placed by these types of posts, is that we are building up an extra offense to the Gospel message before it is ever proclaimed.  Mean spirited, attacking posts, simply put anger in the hearts of the unbeliever towards the Gospel message.  I have run across many, many homosexuals through my life who can quote Deuteronomy 21:18-21, or 22:13-21 all while never having heard the Gospel.

Buy attacking, with great maliciousness their particular sin, we have only created a group who is further removed from the Gospel because they are creating a defense for their sin, before ever hearing what the solution to sin is.  They see Christians as people who are in attack mode, with their eyes square on their target.

We have helped them close their eyes and hearts to the Gospel, before we ever got around to sharing it (assuming that we ever make it that far).  We have also decreased the odds of anyone else being able to share with them as well.

Seasoned Grace

We know from 1 Peter 3:15 that we as Christians must “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you”, but for most non-believers, they see no hope.  In fact, the only difference they see between us and them, is a set of rules and regulations.

While being the social media, Biblical instruction manuals to the world we are in fact, inadvertently, preaching a false Gospel.  One of works.

We need to move away from mean-spirited comments and posts, and to be quite honest, maybe take a break from some of the controversial posts that cause fighting on the pages of social media.  When we do feel the need (or are lead) to post on a volatile subject such as abortion, or homosexuality, or politics we need to do so from a position of calm, not allowing our emotions to get involved.  We need to temper our comments with love, and grace, just as we would talk to someone from that camp face to face.

We need to let our speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, not a huge heaping spoonful of salt with a dash of grace.

Social media is an amazing gift, and one that we ought to enjoy.  The connections that can be made through it, and the contacts that can be kept, is on a level never seen before in history.  As a tool, if used well, we can spread the love of Christ and His Gospel in a way previous generations could only dream about.

Let us stop using this tool to drive people away from the cross.  Let us not use it to create an image of the church, and Gospel message that is contrary to the truth.  Let us not use it to attack sinners of a different flavor from the safety of our computers.

Instead, let us redeem this tool for the Glory of God and His purposes.

J. W. Willard

The Power of a Testimony

Many of us spend our lives surrounded by “Christians”.  We go to church with them, we go to school with them, and we even work alongside them.  How do we know they are Christians though?  How do we know they have been bought with the blood of Christ?  How do we know they have confessed with their mouth, and believed in their heart?  Speaking for myself I have to admit that many times I just assume.

Each Sunday I shake hands with many people that I know for a fact are saved, but I also shake hands and talk to people who I don’t know for certain.  I have no idea where they are at spiritually.  They are in church with me (some of them have been for years), though, so I assume that they are in Christ.  Assume being the key word.

Perhaps I am shaking hands with an unbeliever, or a person who has never truly understood what Christ did.  They look pretty, and sound pretty, but if we got down to it perhaps they are coming to church to stay on God’s good side in order to get into heaven.  Those “Christians” at work and school, maybe the same is true of them.  Perhaps some of the Christians we know are simply not saved.

Even though it may be true that we are walking around with some people who are not actually saved, we can’t walk around assuming that the entire church is unsaved, and try to convert all of the Saints.  That would be ridiculousness.  Most of them are.  Yet we have to get to those who are not, in order to tell them what Christ has done for them.  We have to warn them of the coming judgment.

How do we go about doing this though?  How do we go about finding the evangelism opportunities amongst our Christian friends, church family, coworkers, and acquaintances?  How do we transition to a Gospel conversation in situations like this, without driving crazy the majority who know Christ personally?

I have never really known the answer to this, until it struck me today.

We need to share testimonies.

You know.  That amazing story about how God rescued a sinner such as yourself.  The most important moment of your life.  Others have one of those as well, and it’s the most amazing moment of their lives.

Why do we not share these stories with each other more often?  Why do we not ask each other about theirs?  It’s the most amazing moment of our lives, and yet if someone asked me about the testimonies of even those I consider my closest friends, I have to admit that I don’t know them.  For some crazy reason the story has never come up.

If we asked each other the story behind their salvation more often, not only would we knit better friendships with those around us, we would also have the chance to find those who have no story.  The ones who have no idea what you are talking about.  The ones who live in the midst of messengers of Christ, that have never received the message.

And it’s such an easy question.  ‘Could you tell me about the miracle that happened in your life when the God of the universe reached into your heart and changed it forever?’   What a simple question.  Step back and wait though, the answer will blow you away.  I have heard hundreds of salvation stories in my life, and they never get old.  Never.

I plan to start asking to hear more of them.  Perhaps God will use me to reach people so they can have their own story along the way.  If nothing else though, I will get to hear about how God worked some of the greatest miracles!  I will get to celebrate the reason that Christ came to this earth.  To save sinners such as us, so that we can tell others what an amazing miracle He did in our lives.