I’m guessing with the widespread restrictions we’re experiencing right now that “screen-time” is at an all time high. If you’re like me it’s way too easy to mindlessly click on that Facebook app and fritter time away. No condemnation from me. Like I said, it’s easy. Also, Facebook (or your favorite social media platform) isn’t all bad. It’s morally neutral until you use it a certain way.
So, how should Christians use it? I would suggest that the gospel should shape and inform how we use social media. Call it a “gospel-centered” approach. Call it a “gospel-shaped” approach. Whatever you call it, I’m suggesting that the good news of Jesus determine how we use social media.
So, with that in mind, let me suggest three (among many) ways the gospel informs our Facebook use.
FIRST: You can still have fun. Jesus went to the cross that God might call all the world to repent (Acts 17:30-31). This means that the cross has purchased more time for this world to experience grace that is common to all creation. Videos of funny pets, pictures of grandkids, chatting with distant friends and (possibly) Jeffrey Epstein memes are all, in a sense, a grace of God.
We can enjoy these common graces with a gospel lens by recognizing them as God’s grace and being thankful to him (Deuteronomy 28:47).
The gospel approach to Facebook is not the one that looks down from above, constantly worried that somewhere, someone is having a good time. Instead, it is marked by gladness and gratitude to God.
SECOND: A gospel-oriented approach to Facebook is concerned with being a friend. It is other centered. Let me give you a practical example. There’s a certain type of Facebook post that says, “my friendship with you is conditional”. I’m talking about the “I bet you won’t read this” or “I bet you won’t repost this” challenges that say, essentially, “I’ll know you’re my friend IF.” But the gospel doesn’t lead us to mark our relationships with conditional love. In other words, the Gospel doesn’t make us so concerned with “who my friend is” as much as it makes us concerned about being good friends. It does not say, “the criteria for being counted as one of my friends is to read this mile-long post, and then repost it”. Instead, it says “I will be your friend. No matter what.” It does this because this is the kind of grace God showed us in Christ. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). At the risk of sound irreverent, you could read this as “While we would never read, or even re-post Jesus’ Facebook Statuses, He died for us anyway.”
THIRD: Gospel-shaped Facebook use would have a concern for truth that builds up. It’s not a vent for your fears or anger. It’s not being used righteously when it is used to tear down.
“So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.” (I Corinthians 14:12)
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
Now, I’m not saying that Facebook can’t be used for a little blunt confrontation once in a while. The gospel does plainly confront sin regardless of how that might hurt our very sensitive and tender feelings. However, gospel-shaped confrontation comes with hope. It comes with an alternative to staying in the guilt and sin that you’re being confronted about. The truth comes with the confrontation, the love comes with an invitation to trust in the one who takes our guilt away at the cross.