The picture is actually pretty silly. There’s Jesus on His iPhone X, scrolling His Instagram feed and double tapping pictures of his friends. “Nah,” you might say. “Jesus wouldn’t use an iPhone! He’d use His laptop, and only when He’s on break… never while He’s on the clock!”
The truth is that God, in His infinite wisdom, sent Jesus to take on flesh and live among us at just the right time, in just the right place. That wasn’t in 2018 with an iPhone and Instagram, but it’s still helpful to consider the question, What would Jesus do on social media? I think it’s equally helpful to consider what He wouldn’t do on social media.
HE WOULD NOT MISREPRESENT.
Have you every posted a story or a picture on social media that made you look happier/better/nicer/nobler than what you are? I have. There’s nothing wrong with sharing aspects of our lives on social media, but even slightly skewed motives can be unhealthy. It’s a fine line and none of us will navigate it perfectly, but if oaths are a poor substitute for integrity (Matthew 5:33-37), then so are slightly-too-flattering posts about myself.
HE WOULD NOT MANIPULATE.
Jesus was fully God and fully man, which means He knew the hearts of the people he interacted with. We see in story after story where Jesus used this as a way of telling a person just what they needed to hear. He loved people enough to approach them that way. Sometimes we use social media as a platform to elicit a response from others. Whether it's insecurity, naivety, or the need for attention, exploiting someone else's weakness is a form of manipulation. Instead, Jesus would speak words of life. He would build people up and inspire them to His cause, not manipulate them for His desired outcome.
HE WOULD NOT SEE A NEWSFEED, HE WOULD SEE PEOPLE.
As I detailed in my first blog post about this topic, social media can be a frustrating and annoying place to spend time. The thing that becomes most frustrating to me is what sometimes seems like an endless stream of negativity on my newsfeed. I think if Jesus was scrolling a social media newsfeed today, He would not see a newsfeed, He would see people. He would see people who are hurting. People who are searching. People that are without hope. Instead of being discouraged or annoyed, He would be moved with compassion and love, and would offer the only solution that this life has to offer (John 14:6).
HE WOULD NOT NEGLECT IN-PERSON COMMUNITY FOR VIRTUAL COMMUNITY.
One of the beautiful things about Jesus was that He was always present to the people around Him (Matthew 9:18-22). He was never in a hurry (John 11:5-7). He was never seemed preoccupied. This, sadly, is not always a reflection of my use of social media. Sometime I neglect the people that are physically around me to connect with people who are online. If we’ve grown more comfortable with online community than in-person community, then something has gone wrong. If I lose my ability to discern when an online conversation would be more fruitful as an in-person conversation, then something is out of place.
Do these sound like a tall order? After all we’re discussing the One who would have the only perfect social media newsfeed in the history of the world. 😃 I can tell you, I will not follow Jesus perfectly when it comes to my interactions on social media. But that can’t stop me from trying and allowing the Spirit to guide my words and actions. That’s probably going to look a little different than the rest of the world… and it should!
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)
God, renew our minds, refine our posts, and help us to be distinctive as we cooperate with Your Spirit…even on social media.