Remind them of these things, charging them before God not to fight about words; this is in no way profitable and leads to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth. But avoid irreverent, empty speech, for this will produce an even greater measure of godlessness. – 2 Tim. 2:14-16
Not too long ago, a friend asked me to blog about angels. She was tired of reading so many comments on Facebook where people have that subject all twisted – consoling someone who is grieving the death of a loved one by saying something like, “Heaven just got another angel,” and stuff like that. Or some conclude that the deceased are now watching over us with special powers, like stopping a mack truck from running over us or redirecting the path of an anvil falling from a skyscraper under construction.
The Bible does have a lot to say about angels, and I can’t find anything that leads me to believe that people become them, but to me, it points to a bigger issue. The Internet and pervasiveness of social media has brought new opportunities to believers, and it has also brought new challenges and temptations. That’s becoming increasingly apparent. Whether comforting someone about death, discussing politics, handling personal conflict, or responding to a moral issue that’s making waves in the news, we have a great responsibility. As such, God’s Word needs to be valued, and voiced, above our opinions. Every tweet, every post, is like sending out a little piece of your reputation. And if you’ve identified yourself to the world as a Christian, then every tweet and every post has the power to either draw people to Christ or distract them from Him. If we’re going to post comments and statuses and “like” things, then we better know what God’s Word says, and we better type words and post pictures with diligence and integrity.
The Great Chick-fil-A Divide of 2012, for one, serves as an example. Should Christians take a stand as they correctly teach the word of truth via social media and any other outlet of public expression? Yes. Should Christians take those very same issues and make broad generalizations, using condescension to berate one another? Should they post a picture of the people who are taking that stand with the caption, “You’d never see this many Christians lined up to help at a food bank or homeless shelter”? Or is that one of those things that “is in no way profitable and leads to the ruin of the hearers”?
The generations of believers that follow us will be able to learn from our mistakes, but for now, we’re the guinea pigs. We’re covering new ground, and the whole world is watching. We’re not left without instruction, though. Paul’s words to Timothy are just as relevant today for people pecking away on their keyboards and clicking a mouse – don’t fight, be diligent, correctly teach, and avoid irreverent speech.