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Can My Friends Recognize Jesus on My FB Feed?

July 20, 2017
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Imagine a medical practice whose ads ran with this kind of content:

  • “If your blood pressure is high, it’s your own fault. Just cut the sodium.”
  • “Your smoking addiction offends me.”
  • “Suffering from diabetes? What a jerk you are. If you cared about your family, you would just eat less sugar.”

I can tell you that no doctor with that attitude would ever need to file an Aetna claim from me!

Which brings me to Jesus, a well-known healer of physical misery. Throngs of people flocked to him for relief from their suffering (see Matthew:  4:23-24, 8:16-17, 9:35-36, 4:13-14, 15:29-31, and 20:29-34). They not only knew him as a source of healing, but he was also safe. Matthew says he looked on the crowds with compassion and saw them as “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (9:36). That’s why the Canaanite woman could risk asking for help when her daughter “suffered terribly” from demon possession (Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30).

Even more important, Jesus offered spiritual restoration and made that offer safe too:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)l

As disciples of Jesus, we are called to introduce a broken world to spiritual healing—rest, peace, restoration, a better way of living, freedom from the chains of sin. I worry, though, that our social media activity is more often presenting an impenetrable barrier to Jesus.

Maybe the doctor is right when he says that my unhealthy diet and inactive lifestyle are interfering with my prospects for longevity. If he berates me about the stupidity of my choices, however, I’m not stepping foot back in his office. Then, I’ll never hear from him about how to practice healthier behavior. He may have an effective way to help me with an addiction problem, but I’ll never listen to him if he brags about how he would never touch the stuff and ignores the physical or emotional pain that may have landed me in that big pile of trouble in the first place.

 

 

It’s the same with our Facebook and Twitter shares and posts. If we’re not careful, the way we frame topics and label individuals can send our “followers” running away from Jesus.

Taking a strident stand on social media against behavior we consider wrong may seem like a public vote for biblical morality. But what if the manner in which we say it builds a wall between our readers and God?

What if our cartoon, meme and video shares imply that certain people are so bad God would never want them? Or that God’s people are so unattainably righteous that we would never allow them into our circles (which sometimes reads as plain mean)?

Take a look at your social media feed and hold it up against the words and actions of Jesus in the Gospels. How do they compare? Being the face of Jesus to the world applies to our social media presence just as much as to our in-person interactions — both what we post and the way we respond to those we disagree with. Our social media presence may be all people know of us, after all.

Maybe the better place to share our perspectives — and especially our beliefs about moral behavior — is in person, looking a friend in the eye with a gentle tone of voice. Let’s accompany that with two open ears to hear about their struggles. Otherwise, we too closely resemble the person standing on the street corner condemning everyone to hell. There’s nothing appealing about that kind of compassion-less, relationship-less Christianity.

If you are posting or sharing content that contains ridicule, insults, harsh condemnations, and negative labels, I wonder this: What if one or more of your social media friends needs the healing of Jesus? Are you reflecting a Savior they feel safe turning to? Have you presented an image of a Healer who welcomes every beloved individual, warts and all?

Are you coming across as a compassionate friend who is open to hearing from someone struggling with addiction, or stuck with tough choices resulting from a mistake, or trying to leave an abusive situation they got themselves into?

I guess the big question is this: Is the love of Jesus for lost and hurting people flowing through your social media accounts?

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