Social media these days has become an interesting place. People are posting homebound adventures, what they’ve been baking, and local places of business that are open. There’s been inspirational stories of how families are staying together amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and how people are showing encouragement through rainbows on the windows and sidewalks. Though the recent days have been tough, there have been beautiful marks of humanity and kindness.
On the other side of the coin, there has also been a lot of fear and grabbing at anything in order to make sense of what is going on. With the latest and greatest news story shaking the headlines, it is a bombardment of information that can send anyone into mental overload. I don’t know about you, but my Facebook newsfeed is filled with a rollercoaster of emotion and mood swings from one post to the next with an occasional Tiger King meme. #DidCaroleDoIt?
But I do want to ask one simple question: have we completely forgotten everything that we learned in high school social studies when it came to research papers? Oh you know: always look for a credible source; when you’re looking at a source, make sure you get sources from different viewpoints; follow the money trail. Do they all affirm the same conclusion or are there some outliers? Are the research papers or articles coming out around the same time as a book, publication, or some other financial move? As a teacher, we don’t allow students to quote Wikipedia because the information can be changed, however people use Facebook, which is always changing, to form their worldviews about important topics. Remember that emotional roller coaster we spoke of? We deem something “fake news” without following high school social studies guidelines for accurate research paper writing, let alone forming our own opinions. We become easily swayed with the winds or the latest Facebook post with the most likes. If something becomes popular, or our favorite celebrity endorses it, we are totally on board. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.
Sadly, we allow good lighting and editing to triumph over common sense or fact seeking. It doesn’t matter what side of a debate you’re on, it seems lately that anyone can be easily swayed to either direction by the quality of the production. This is the same way that cults and other extremists groups enlist new members. They make the information seem very believable because the propaganda looks so good, and they get some celebrity to endorse XYZ or to buy along with it. And as we know, celebrity doesn’t mean correct; it means popular or well-known.
In Ephesians 4, the apostle Paul is speaking to the church in Ephesus about living a Godly life. He speaks to them about being “humble and gentle; be(ing) patient, bearing with one another in love” (v. 4). Encouraging the church to “make every effort to keep unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (v.5). Paul also shares that everyone in the Church has a specific role in order to “equip [Christ’s] people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of Go and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (v 11-12). Good stuff, right?
However, here’s where a lot of us camp out: “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in the deceitful scheming. (v. 14)” We have been seeking the truth on Facebook and the latest post from some doctors about something that we already believe to be true. We won’t be swayed no matter what comes into my Facebook feed. We won’t move from our pillar of truth, and we will let everyone know how right we are. (Some of us need to stop on this verse and not let a well-made video change our worldview, honestly. Joe Exotic was crazy, y’all.)
We forget to read onto verse 15, “Instead, speaking the truth IN LOVE, we will grow to become in every respect the MATURE body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ.” (emphasis added)
Oh. In love and becoming mature? There’s the stinger.
I’m not saying you can’t be passionate about things or have convictions. On the contrary, I believe that Christ calls us to be passionate about the things that He is passionate about. I do believe, though, we need to think before we post things about how it will affect our witness and ability to share the Gospel with those around us that we actually interact with face-to-face.
A single post will not change a person’s worldview. However, a single post can change the world’s view of who you are as a person… and a Christian.
Test everything you read. Honestly, and if you don’t have time to fact check it yourself, you probably should not repost it. Of course you’re grown and can do what you want. In the roller coaster of emotion that is social media these days, instead of being the super spiny part that gives riders the massive stomach ache, why not be the light at the end of the scary tunnel that gives hope? Pretty sure that’s what Jesus would post.