While traveling in Florida recently for a church conference, I tuned in to an interesting discussion being held on a local radio station about some advice for Christians who use social media. I was only able to remember part of the conversation based on the writings of Roscoe Lilly (pastor of Northstar Church in New York), and some of his points are paraphrased below:
1] Only post things that will help with Jesus' mission. Do no harm is good, sound advice for believers who post on Facebook and other social media.
2] Make friends, not enemies. We think when we make a bold statement on Facebook that we are taking a stand, but we fool ourselves into thinking we've done something when actually all we've done is said something. There's a big difference between adding your voice to all the noise verses doing good.
3] Suffer with dignity. Be careful not to parade the mess of our lives on social media, especially when it comes to broadcasting our grudges, seeking revenge, or intending to humiliate others.
4] Praise others, and let others praise you. Pastor Lilly called this "trolling for complements." Instead of bragging about yourself, choose to bless and encourage others and let the complements come to you genuinely.
5] Rejoice with those who rejoice. Don't try to tear down or belittle those who are celebrating their joys. Instead, learn to be grateful for what is happening in other people's lives.
In addition to Pastor Lilly's advice, I would add this:
Confront those you may disagree with in person. Social media is not the appropriate place for God's people to broadcast their disagreements or settle disputes. Humiliating those you disagree with is not the heart of Christ. Jesus teaches us in Matthew 18 the importance of going to the person who has offended us directly (and in person). God's counsel is best in conflict!
I don't use Facebook or Instagram for anything other than keeping in touch with those I care about across the globe. It is not my political platform, my bully pulpit, or my passive-aggressive method for dealing with my junk. It is my social connection with family and friends, and it says a lot about my relationship with Jesus Christ.
There is a lot of noise on social media, and with every new cultural trend and controversy, there's always the temptation for us to jump right in. Use your social media to do good!