Social Media Etiquette

Topic: Social Media

Context: As I approach the age of 21, I thought to write some more topical and detailed articles. Without dealing with specific situations, tend to reflect wisdom gained from personal experience but more importantly from a more through understanding of applying the Gospel.

One of the biggest areas that Christians brothers and sisters need to examine, as part of conducting helpful and godly relationships with the church is interaction online.

While this isn’t comprehensive, the Scriptures do provide some pointers to productive reflect and grow in Christ’s likeness not just when conducting ourselves.

These list of questions and , should provoke us to think deeply and appropriate, or what we “breathe in” and “breathe out”. Rather than a list of rules, the Gospel should shape our attitude, actions and “affections” on this.

[1] General context of social media

I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong; that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles. Romans 1:11-13

In this passage Paul longer to see the Romans so to strengthen them with a spiritual gift so that there can be edification in the church. He longed to come to the church but was unable to do (until some point). But the reason he gives, shows that his perspective is set on God’s work.

One of the main purposes and reasoning behind social media is not too disconnected from the ancient communication form of letters. Often the people we communicate to over social media, can be people that we wouldn’t be able to keep in contact with simply as it is not possible.

3 questions:

But more generally, Paul’s letter to the Romans should make us three questions:

  1. Is this message, post, tweet or comment consistent with the grand picture of God’s glory?
  2. Is this message, post, tweet or comment actually for the mutual edification of the other people who will see it?
  3. Is my reaction (likes, wow’s etc.) for the mutual edification of the person who posted it, and the other people who will see it?

Often these questions may be difficult to apply. But there are some key principles, that derive from the Scriptures where we are called to be honest, truthful, loving and kind.

Consider these verses from 2 John and 3 John. It is evident the writer could have written more, but felt that discussing and visiting face to face would “complete their joy”. In a sense, there is a benefit to aiming for face-to-face relationships over simply a digital one.

I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.
2 John v12

I have many things to write you, but I would prefer not to do so with pen and ink. Instead, I hope to see you soon and speak face to face. Peace to you. The friends here send you greetings. Greet each of our friends there by name. 3 John v14-15

Perhaps I will stay with you awhile, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I may go. For I do not want to see you now only in passing; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits 1 Corinthians 16:6-7

Social media can be blessed, especially as it can be a way to encourage, share in each other’s blessing. But it is only “in passing”. In some sense, it only provides a small window into people’s lives, which could be true or completely inaccurate. We can easily project ourselves online to be something that is not consistent with how we are living outside.

Deeper Reflection

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Galatians 1:10-11

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:5-6

Read through the above questions and ask yourself the following:
  1. In my usage of social media, am I seeking approval from my friends, or seeking to make a name or reputation for myself? Is the craving for approval or affection an idol?
  2. Do I need to assess my involvement that is my digital footprint online? For instance, am I spending more time online involved in people than I would ordinarily do in person?
  3. Does my actions online reflect the relationship with this person outside of Facebook or other social media?
  4. How can avoid showing favoritism while still having the freedom to like, comment and follow who I so wish to online; or am I deliberately avoiding the “difficult”?
  5. How can I be using the things I share about my life, to faithfully witness to non-Christians and to edify Christians?
  6. In my interactions, especially with members of the opposite sex, am I ensuring that there are appropriate and loving boundaries set; that encourage edification and encourage the building of healthy relationships within the church?
  7. Can non-Christians see that I follow Jesus (if I am a Christian)

Life Lessons:

These are some of the practices I try to apply, although I definitely fail at a lot of these:

  • Generally, I find especially when messaging those of the opposite sex, that I need to think before I send, not just in what to say, but also whether I need to say it online in that manner. I generally try to not to message those of the opposite sex, frequently or excessively. I find it really helpful to turn chat for all such people, so that I am less concerned about when they are online.
  • Generally and apparently it is more effective, to spend less time online, and to post less and less. If people are genuinely interested in your life, then they will set aside the time, whether it be at church, or outside (where appropriate of course), to get to know and relate to you.
  • I avoid disclosing too much personal information online & emotional experiences, in either posts or messages, especially to those of the opposite sex.
  • Also when interacting with members of the opposite sex, I find still the most helpful environments are things like Facebook Groups.
  • I generally don’t tend to respond to anything that isn’t related to me. So for instance, if a friend of friend of mine, whom I do not know, posts something to my friend or something similar then I am definitely not required to respond, since I have no relationship with the person of the post; and in some cases it might be unhelpful.
  • Avoid “stalking”. While for most people, it is a public space, many people for good reasons, decide that there content is private. Respect their privacy. But also it may not be beneficial to continually scroll through the profile pictures of a new friend for instance

And of course these aren’t perfect but they give an indication…

Faithfulness in Service

Gathering together different pieces:

 

[1] It is a great encouragment, when Paul writes in Ephesians 2, that in addition to being saved only by grace, but that God in his grace has prepared us for good works whether it be now or in the future.

 

[2] Yesterday, was reading Hebrews 6. A friend encouraged out of that to “move on from the elementary teachings of the faith. So no matter what, we should be looking to push forward and not be lazy”

 

[3] Another friend had shared an helpful article some time back and I found this super relevant:
“The antidote to our serving-paralysis…is not to find the ministry that fits us best. It’s not doing more and more until our guilt is quenched with exhaustion. It might not even be “serving” in the way we’ve come to understand and define it”

 

[4] From Sunday’s sermon:
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
Ecclesiastes 3:11

 

And understanding Ephesians 1:9-11 again, we understand that the writer here is talking about everything beautiful and fitting is found in Jesus…

 

[5] Something I have said recently:

 

“The love that brothers and sister in Christ share, are… a reality based on right attitudes, words, actions, driven by God’s love, for the goal of building each other in Christ to reach maturity.”

 

 

So it is this love that God showed us in Jesus, that we need to witness as we offer and proclaim the Gospel.

 

And there is no no accident as to the people that God has placed around us; family, friends, work colleagues, fellow students etc; both Christians and non-Christians, to proclaim God’s grace and faithfulness; and overflow in love, generosity and prayer. Even it costs us our comfort, time and resources…

 

My personal reflection:
I find that having this heavenly perspective shape everything, prevents me from presuming “entitlement” to particular things; but instead to see everything as a gift and privilege.

For example: while it is difficult, the gift of having brothers, sisters where it requires effort to catch up or encourage; seeing the fruit years down the track, of fearless mature men and women, who are actively seeking to reach the world around them.

 

Post-Edit:

[6] I found that after reading the article again, that it reminded of what a friend had written several months before, which describes in a bit more clarity:

“Being nice is easy. But loving others is often inconvenient and uncomfortable. But I’ve been challenged that loving people means going further than just being nice.

Loving people means copying Jesus and the example He set on the cross. It means I stop looking inward and start looking outward to people’s greatest need – forgiveness from Jesus.”

Men & Women of Integrity

A collection of thoughts from this week…
 
But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity;
redeem me, and be gracious to me. Psalm 26:11
 
Specifically for the brothers:
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14
 
Specifically for the sisters:
but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious 1 Peter 3:4
 
Friends, brothers, and sisters, can I encourage you to be men and women of integrity, to have one-mind for seeing others come to Christ…
 
And will you pray for your brothers and sisters, to have a pure undiluted and sincere devotion to Christ? Not to be distracted by a worldly obsession with gossip or relationships nor with wealth or status; …
 
But with the goal of only pleasing Jesus, not any other…
 
I remember a friend, last year and it was so unexpected, had being praying the words of Colossians 1:9-12 for me. They didn’t have to, and in that particular situation, they had ever reason or excuse not to.
 
But through that, and many other things, have urged me to want for such friends to have lives also that reflect Christ and are first and foremost for him.
 
My hope is that prayers like those for others will be greatly answered…. and that I can love others in allowing them to grow…

Doing Good to All

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.  Galatians 6:10

In this section Paul continues after finishing talking about the fruits of the Spirit, to encourage fellow Christians to care and invest time in the welfare of others.

Ask, who is one person you can encourage to make the most of every opportunity to love brothers and sisters, more and more selflessly like Christ?

To Marvel in God

Came across this verse, and it had me thinking…
One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. Psalm 27:4

How much more beautiful is God, than the things created? How much more amazing is it is dwell in his house?
Though I know many beautiful people, brothers and sisters, in appearance, in character,
then how much more should there be great admiration for God than the things he has made?

Rather than how marvel at how wonderfully and beautifully made we are; but how SO much more wonderful our God is and must surely be?

Who can you encourage this week to delight in God’s character and his appearing (see Titus 2:13)?

Secure

Sometimes, there could be many reasons to be insecure, but as a Christian we have every reason to look beyond the mild and even more acute insecurities we face.

Following on from this post, I wish to look at our identity in Christ and why we have every reason to feel secure. To do this I will spend most of my time in Colossians, however the Bible, especially with New Testament goes to great details in describing the new identity that Christians have in Christ because of Christ… Continue reading “Secure”

Beautifully & Wonderfully Made

Of the many things that God has made, he set a special place for humanity, to be his image bearers. I wanted to look at one specific way in which that shapes our understanding of ourselves: self-image and outward appearances.

This follows on, and hopefully will complement and continue some of themes raised in the last post I wrote. I hope that this will challenge you to view yourselves in a way that brings honour to God and sees others in a way that is pleasing to God.

1. Made in his image

When God created the world, he created it as good. Part of that humanity is supposed to, according to God’s good design, to bearing the image of God.  Continue reading “Beautifully & Wonderfully Made”