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Sunday, April 3, 2016 am                                                Others 2016 Index

 

OTHERS (14)
Examples 5
The Christian and Social Media

 

Last week we addressed the influence of a Christian within his society or community or neighborhood.  That is where we have our greatest impact with people.   Associated with this, is a more recent area of influence – social media.  

 I.                     Social media and the internet

a.       Society – defined as “people in general thought of as living together in organized communities with shared laws, traditions, and values”.  (merriam-webster.com).  In other words, it is the community we live in as we noted in our sermon last week.

b.       Social – defined as “relating to or involving activities in which people spend time talking to each other or doing enjoyable things with each other.”  (also merriam-webster.com)
WE sometimes speak of socializing which is interaction within our social circles or society.

c.        What is social media?  It is creating social interaction through electronic means, primarily using the internet.  Social media is communication with our friends and acquaintances, and in many instances involving groups of people greater than our friends (i.e. friends of friends, etc.)

d.       The internet is a system of interconnected networks through which we electronically transmit information.   It has developed to be very complex and efficient in the past few decades.

e.       Much good can be accomplished with the internet and social media – we have information ready at our fingertips, we can communicate in real time from virtually anywhere in the world, it can be a time and cost saver, we can rally together behind noble causes, etc.   The list of good uses is virtually endless.

f.        BUT, just a click away (Joe Price – wwwsin – August 2014) sin awaits:

                                                   i.      Sins of the flesh – pornography, gambling, opportunities for fornication, etc.

                                                 ii.      Unrighteous judgments – with the amount of information being made available, it is possible to pass judgments without all the facts.  More on this in a few moments.

                                                iii.      False doctrines and false religions – just as easily accessible as the truth, is that which is false.  False teachers utilize the internet to teach their doctrines

                                                iv.      Human wisdom – along with false doctrine is all manner of human wisdom contrary to God’s word – humanism, atheism, agnosticism, antagonism to the truth, etc.

                                                  v.      A Time bandit – more on this later.

g.       Just like there are responsibilities within our community or society, so there are Biblical standards to consider as a Christian if we use social media.   Many of them overlap with our responsibilities as we discussed last week.    Let us notice the example of a Christian with social media.

 II.                   Social media and the internet can be good or evil

a.       Like so many other things, social media and the internet, as well as other forms of electronics are not inherently evil.  They are things and, like money, are morally neutral.   It is what you do with it that factors morality and godliness into the picture.
Whether you like it or not, the internet and social media are here to stay.  They are a part of the fabric of our society.  And as with many other things, they can be used for good or evil.  

b.       Much good can be done for the cause of Christ with the internet and social media
There is access to instant information on virtually any subject.   Answers to questions are easily available.
Portable Bibles, often with intricate search engines to help you find what you are looking for.
Many Christians and churches are using the internet to promote the gospel to their communities and beyond.
IT IS HERE!  It is a fact of society that must accept.  That is not to say you are required to use it – but it is a tool that is being used and as such it is an opportunity.  No longer does seeing a cell phone or ipad at services mean that someone is texting or playing game.  They may be reading their Bible on that device.  And that can be a good thing.  AS preachers, we must beware that some point we make can be verified with just a tap on that device (i.e. proper definition of a word, cited sources, etc.).

Many churches have a “web presence” and they use it as a way to promote the gospel within their community and abroad.

Much teaching has been made available through electronic media – access to sermons and studies.  Many online correspondence courses have been developed to teach, etc.
Tracts are available by godly brethren (some who we support), etc.

Brethren can communicate with concerns.
Locally: Many of our visitors, including some local have come because of our website.

Challenge: If you are one social media – this week post an invitation to our Gospel meeting with a link to our website. (Remember last Sunday night’s sermon – don’t be ashamed to let others know you are a Christian). 

c.        Instant access to information and communication can be good and cost effective.

d.       They can provide you with prospects and renew old friendships.

e.       It can also be used for evil - to divide people, spread lies and bitterness, to advance false doctrines, it can be used for self-promotion, spread and promote profanity and immodesty, etc.

 III.                 The Christian on social media

a.       It is a way for you to let your light shine – there is much ugliness online today.  As a Christian, you are representing Christ in all that you do (Matt. 5:16). That includes your online activities.

b.       Don’t be caught up in ungodly behaviors - As Christians we are to abstain from every form of evil – 1 Thessalonians 5:22. That doesn’t mean you cannot participate in social media, BUT it does mean we do not participate in nor advocate evil activities PERIOD!  
Ephesians 5:11 – have no fellowship with unfruitful works of darkness, rather expose them!

c.        Realize the dangers -  just as your reputation can be damaged by some poor choice you make or something that you say, so it is on social media.  What you post is out there forever!  Even if you regret something and try to retract it, you may not be able to completely remove your online trail.  The Bible calls for us to have a good reputation - Proverbs 22:1, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, Loving favor rather than silver and gold.”
Romans 12:17 tells us to “have regard for good things in the sight of all men.

d.       Be careful what you share (post, tweet, blog, whatever they call it) – are you reflecting immodesty with the pictures you post?   Are you wearing clothing that is too revealing?  IF it is a picture, it is still as immodest as if it were live!
Do people see you practicing ungodly habits and activities?  Do you brag about movies you have no business watching?  Are you going places that have a bad influence?

e.       Choose your friends wisely – we all (well most of us) need good friends.  But they need to be GOOD friends!  1 Corinthian 15:33 tells us that evil company corrupts good habits.
Galatians 5:9 simply says, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump
The very idea of a church (local) is that it is a body that is functioning and all parts are working in unison with the others (cf. 1 Cor. 12:12-27, Ephesians 4:16, 1 Cor. 1:10, etc.
Proverbs 22:24-25, “Make no friendship with an angry man, And with a furious man do not go, Lest you learn his ways And set a snare for your soul.” 

You may need to block or unfriend those who continually post that which is inappropriate.

f.         Be totally honest – this cannot be emphasized enough!  Honesty needs to a hallmark of the Christian.
Ephesians 4:25 tells us to each one speak truth to his neighbor.  Vs. 29 says to let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth.
Revelation 21:8 tells us that all liars will have their part in the lake of fire and brimstone.
Again 1 Peter 2:12 speaks of honorable conduct among the Gentiles – live so that they will glorify God.
We need to be careful what we post or forward.  There is much misinformation on social media.  People express their prejudices often with extreme prejudice – posting anything that sounds good to bolster their cause.  The more sensation something is about your opponent, the quicker we share it with all our friends, as if that will convert them.  How truthful it is doesn’t matter!  That truly is sad.  As Christians, if we actively post on social media, we ought to have a reputation of honesty and honor in our demeanor and the truthfulness of what we share.    And that is just one aspect of honesty.

g.       Don’t gossipone of the challenges of the internet is that we are not speaking face to face with others.  Depending on how efficient someone is, they may even be able to HIDE their identity (speaking anonymously).   Therefore, it becomes easier to exaggerate, slant something in our favor, talk about others (truthful or not), etc.  Reputations can be ruined by internet posts just as much as by word of mouth (or writing in letters or tabloids).  And whether it is spoken, written or communicated electronically – if it is a lie, it is WRONG!  Prov. 11:13, “A talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.”
THIS also includes forwarding what others have posted – I content you are still liable to make sure it is the truth!  Proverbs 20:19, “He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets; Therefore do not associate with one who flatters with his lips.”  Maybe the talebearer is one you need to “unfriend”.

h.       Don’t be angry or bitter – Ephesians 4:31 – we are to put away bitterness and wrath.  Frequently, I see posts that are written in anger or bitterness.  You can see the hateful tone.  Sometimes these are even seen in religious discussions online.  Don’t behave that way.

i.         Don’t make unrighteous judgments – John 7:24, Jesus taught that we are to judge with a righteous judgment.  That means we have all the facts straight before me make a decision.
Proverbs 18:13, “He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him.”
I cannot tell you how many times I have read something someone else sent and became angry with it – (such as the ACLU suing to remove crosses from tombstones in national cemeteries, etc.) only to investigate and find out it was an outright lie designed to inflame.   Then I become angry because sometimes it is my brethren forwarding these things. 
Before you make a judgment, get the facts.  If you unsure, DON’T POST IT!!!!!!!!!! (And even if it is true, if it is unkind – maybe you should STILL not post it!)

j.         Don’t glorify yourself – be humble!  Prov. 25:27, “It is not good to eat much honey; So to seek one’s own glory is not glory.  Matt. 23:12 – Jesus taught that whoever exalts himself will be humbled (comes after rebuking the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees for loving to be exalted – 23:3-12) 
There are some on social media who are seeking to brag about how wonderful they are, or revealing every little thing about themselves.  The goal of many is to see how many “likes” they can get.  Our goal should not be our own glorification.
I also think of the what I call “bullying posts”, where your integrity, faith, morality, etc. are questioned if you don’t forward this post to everyone you know.  These are arrogant posts.  I QUICKLY delete them.

k.        Manage your time wisely – Ephesians 5:16 tells us to redeem our time.  James 4:14-15 tells us our life is a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 
It is very easy to let social media, online discussions, playing games, going to all the sites that our “friends” recommend, etc. 
Last year, the globalweb index reported that its consumers spent 1.72 hours a day on social networks.[1]
CNN reported last November that teens and tweens spend an average of 9 hours a day engaged in electronic media (including television, games, music and internet).[2]
While using social media can be useful, are we so addicted to it that it robs us of time to do more godly things?  Is it why we can’t visit, study or attend all services?

l.         It can become an addiction – is the reason some spend so much time on the internet because it has become an addiction to them.  It can be such if we allow it to.  Anything like this that is an addiction is sinful. 
1 Cor. 6:12
, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.  
CHALLENGE: Determine that you are going to go a week without social media (except maybe work related).  Can you do it?

 

Social media clearly has its purpose.   As we have noted it is here to stay and good can come from it.  But just as we are to be a godly example within society, so we need to be a good “social neighbor.”    How is your influence in these matters?