For a good long while I resisted Facebook. I had a band page on the now ignored MySpace.com to promote my music, but I was determined to not give in to the social media hype. I caved in a couple of years ago and I’m glad I did. Facebook has given me the chance to connect with people who I had lost communication with and to be reminded of some forgotten past friends. I enjoy keeping up with people, looking at their photos, and sometimes striking up meaningful conversations. It is also a neat avenue for my church family to receive news and updates about church happenings, as well as promote my little website. So, I enjoy Facebook. I think it is a good thing.
As with most things that are good, there is also significant potential for damage.
In Philippians 2, Paul is instructing the church in the discipline of living our lives through the lens of Jesus. His concluding statement is beautiful. He says in verse 15 that we do a certain something “so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God. . .in which you shine like stars in the universe.” The “certain something” Paul refers to is simply and powerfully spelled out in verse 14:
“Do everything without complaining or arguing.”
Stars, of course, have a universal radiance. No matter where you live, the shining stars are visible to all. This is why Paul relates the example of Christians to stars; we want everyone to see Christ through the example of our lives. The way this happens, Paul argues, is through the absence of complaining, grumbling, and arguing.
Every time we click “update status” and write our little rant for the day on Facebook, we turn the dim switch on the radiance of our star. None of us think we are guilty of this, but all of us are. Some more than others. Peruse the last few weeks of status updates and see how many are written with the intent of getting little “jabs” in on anonymous folks. We think that if somehow we don’t include the person’s name in our tirade then we are free from the guilt of the update. The irony of using a Facebook status to whine about the immaturity of someone else is as thick as it comes. You can’t battle immaturity with immaturity. For Christians, the times when we experience betrayal or wrong doing are the most important times for our faith to shine like a star. After all, anyone can be thankful for a day that goes without a hitch. We can’t appreciate how much Satan loves to use grumbling to kill the effectiveness of our star. Facebook is a perfect spot for him to camp out.
So, I suggest this:
1. Simply stop complaining about people, circumstances, your job, your family, and anything else where you want to end your sentence with 5 exclamation points. Just stop doing it.
2. When you are in a difficult place and need encouragement, private message those folks who you can trust and let them know what you are going through. Or, if done appropriately, let your status update reflect your need for prayer without sarcasm toward the circumstance itself.
3. Begin to use status updates not to complain about the situation, but to give thanks for how God worked through the difficult issue.
4. Don’t forget that although social media is a great thing, there are still times when things are private and should be handled accordingly.
5. When in doubt, error on the side of keeping your star shining.
Many blessings to you all!