On November 13th, 2016 elder Denis Pomerleau in his sermon raised the following question “What’s my priority in life as a Christian?” This question fell on me like a bomb and inspired me to do some reflecting of my own about the place of social networks in the Christian’s life. Since then I have given it some thought and in response I am asking Christians “Is social media or the gospel of Jesus Christ my priority in life?”
Let me be clear. I am not saying a Christian should put aside social media. However, this worldly thing should not be a priority in the Christian’s life. As you know, nowadays, people spend a lot of time on social media. Every single day, more people use social networks in North America than anywhere else in the world. Actually, in 2016, 70.2% of North American internet users accessed social networks and the number is growing rapidly. As a social fact, I think it’s important to consider the possible repercussions that it has on the church, and specifically on the Christian life.
What is a social network?
According to “The Economist”, March 6th 2010, a social network is “an online service or site through which people create and maintain interpersonal relationships. And millions of people have become comfortable using smart-phones to share information about themselves, via mobile apps that access social networks such as Facebook and Twitter”. Do people really create and maintain interpersonal relationships through social networks? If so, what kind of relationships? Do they share only information about themselves? Answering these questions would take several more pages, which I am not about to do. For now, I would prefer that you, the reader, provide the answers from your own personal experiences. Needless to say, I will share my own comments about this last question, “Do people share only information about themselves?” at a later point.
Be sure that this phenomenon about telling others about our lives leads to something we term “cyberdependence”, where large amounts of time are spent on social networking. Whenever a Christian is taken captive by social media, it is clearly not for God’s Glory. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3 verse 1a, “there’s a time for everything”. You should be careful with your time and not spend it on something that does not bring glory to God. Some people might think “if I go to church regularly, pray, read my Bible and so on, there should be no problem since I am spending my time as I wish, and it is not a sin to do so.” The apostle Paul has it right when he says in 1st Corinthians 10 verse 23, “all things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not”. What that means is that the Christian chooses his actions based on whatever may be beneficial (expedient) or constructive (edify) in regards to the Church and his own spiritual well being and ultimately God’s Glory.
Going back to social media, people share all kinds of content on Facebook, and not just people revealing things about themselves as “The Economist” reports. Facebook may claim that they do not allow nudity, hate speech, excessive violence, self-injury….…it is clear that we see these things all the time on Facebook. Whether we admit it or not, if we spend too much time on Facebook, inevitably we will be exposed to pornography, questionable videos, spiteful comments… which of course does not edify any. Before long, our minds are affected by what we have been exposed to. A Christian should fill himself with the Word of God instead. Remember what the Lord said to Joshua, “this book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” (Joshua 1:8)
If someone were to ask the questions “What is too much time spent on social network?” or “How much time should I spend on it?”, I may not have all the answers, but one thing I know for sure, is that as God told Joshua to meditate on the Word of God day and night, we should do the same instead of passing excessive time on social networks. My priority in life as a Christian must be to read the Bible, “meditate therein day and night”; live by the Word of God, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee”, Psalms 119:11; Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path, Psalms 119:105; and to share it with nonbelievers, “And He [Jesus] said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature”, Mark 16:15.
Next time you feel like spending time on social media, ask yourself this question, “Am I doing it for the glory of my God?”
“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” 1st Corinthians 10:31
Jean Sosthène Félix