Biblical social media

©2019 mark montgomery | ask@lifefellowship.org

1. the truth about social media

If one thing is for sure, there has been nothing in the last 20 years that has taken the world by storm quite like Social Media – from email to text messages, I.M.ing (Instant Messaging) to Posting/Tweeting, and from Youtube to SnapChat.

For many it is simply what they have grown up with and they cannot remember a time without all the posts, pics, tweets, memes, gifs, selfies and other screen focused happenings that got them through their day.

Still there are those who would maintain that they remember a time before social media. This time for them seemed simpler. A time when you alone knew what you were having for dinner. A time when you didn’t blog-hop, spend hours on the endless videos and scroll-‘n- click distractions. A time where you worked while your kids went to school and played outside with the neighbors and you came home to read a good book without wondering and obsessing over what you might have missed.

The purpose of our time together this morning is not to vilify or validate the use of Social Media but rather to look at it through the grid of Scripture so that we may all have the ability to make an informed decision on the topic before God, and for His glory.

a. who am I?

That question for each of us starts with another question – do I know Jesus? If the answer is “yes,” then we are encouraged by Scripture that we were made in His image (Genesis 1:27).

john 3:16

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

We get the chance to stand on the firm foundation of what God has done for us:

II corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

It is in the comfort and reassurance of these verses that we find our Identity in Christ. It is in this relationship that we find our care and love for others, the ability to be real and honest, and the joy in long-suffering with others.

ephesians 4:1-3

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

But in this world of instant gratification do we use the number of like, shares or retweets as a source of finding self-worth or validation for ourselves?

matthew 16:24

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

other Scriptures to consider:

Genesis 1:27

Luke 12:7

Jeremiah 31:3

Romans 5:8

Ephesians 1:18-19

Ephesians 2:6-7

Philippians 3:20

 

b. some statistics

Having done a little research on the Top 20 Social Media websites/apps the numbers were just amazing!

The information plays out as follows:

monthly active users

Let’s take a look at how many monthly active users there are on the top six social media sites:

MAUs – monthly active users – top 6

Facebook 2.23 billion

Youtube 1.9 billion

WhatsApp 1.5 billion

Facebook Messenger 1.3 billion

WeChat 1.06 billion

Instagram 1 billion

The total MAUs boasted by the Top 20 Social Media websites/apps = 16.304B MAUs.

The World’s population is currently approximately 7.7 billion.

Don’t worry, I did the math for you – 16.304B divided by 7.7B = 2.117

Bear in mind though the estimate that as of June 2018 55.1% of the World’s population had Internet Access.

teen internet use

teen internet use

• 93% of teens ages 12-17 go online

• 69% of teens have their own computer

• 63% of teen internet users go online every day

• 27% of teens use their phone to get online

• 24% of teens with a game console use it to go online

teen social networking use

teen social networking use

• 73% of teens are on a social network

• The average teen has 201 Facebook friends

• 37% send messages to friends every day

• 8% of American teens use Twitter

teens facebook activity

what teens do on facebook

• 86% of social network-using teens comment on a friend’s wall

• 83% comment on friends’ pictures

• 66% send private messages to friends

• 58% send IM or text messages using the site

• 52% send group messages

how teens use facebook

what else happens on facebook

• 55% of teens have given out personal info to someone they don t know, including photos and physical descriptions

• 29% of teens have posted mean info, embarrassing photos or spread rumors about someone

• 29% have been stalked or contacted by a stranger or someone they don t know

• 24% have had private or embarrassing info made public without their permission

• 22% have been cyber-pranked

parental controls and concerns

parental concerns and controls

• 88% of parents know that their teens typically use the internet to communicate with people they don t know in the offline world

• 61% of parents  #1 concern with teen social networking is sharing personal information online

• 60% of adults think parents should have full control over everything a child does online

• 47% of parents admit that ensuring their teens are safe online can be overwhelming

• 40% of parents worry about their teen s social network safety when online, even at home

• 34% of parents check their child’s social network sites

how kids respond to parental controls

what kids think about facebook parental controls

• 67% of teenagers say they know how to hide what they do online from parents

• 43% of teens say they would change their online behavior if they knew that their parents were watching them

• 39% think their online activity is private from everyone, including parents

• 38% would feel offended if they found out their parents were spying on them with Facebook parental controls

• 25% would be shocked and hurt if they found out about spying

• 20% of kids think their parents have no idea what they’re doing online

• 18% have created a private email address or separate social networking profile

• 10% have unlocked parental controls to disable filtering

The source of all the above data is TopTenREVIEWS

 

c. more statistics

Here is another set of statistics by Common Sense Media that says:

1) A teen on average spends approximately 9 hours a day online (videos, music, etc).

2) For “Tweens” (8-12yrs) the average is nearly 6 hours a day (videos, music, etc).

3) Adults can spend more than 11 hours in front of screens daily (including work, entertainment, social media, etc).

So now that you’re head is spinning from all the numbers that were just thrown at you, let’s just take a minute and refocus.

 

2. the goal, then?

In the midst of all these distractions and the time we spend on so many things, how can we simplify things? Social Media is everywhere today. Even if you do not have an account, you cannot watch TV without being prompted to “Tweet” about what you are watching. Now with our smart phones, Social Media literally goes everywhere with us; the car, the restaurant, the meeting at work, the bathroom.

In fact, these days, you know you’re old when you go to the bathroom and this is not a regular occurrence:

Sorry, I couldn’t resist!

So how do we just determine that Social Media is “of the devil” and boycott it? I believe that there are many advantages to Social Media, but perhaps the question we should ask is, “How can we obey the Greatest Commandment while using Social Media?”

matthew 22:35-40

One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied:” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. ‘ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. ‘ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

other Scriptures to consider:

I Peter 2:11-12

John 18:36a

 

3. are we loving and glorifying God?

I corinthians 10:31

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

This is a question that concerns any area and circumstance of a Christian’s life – for we were created to bring God glory.

isaiah 43:7

everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

When we shy away from owning our God-given purpose, for fear of change or loss of control, we must own that we fall short of where God’s wants us to be.

psalm 115:1

Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.

other Scriptures to consider:

Exodus 20:1-7

Psalm 96:4-9

Psalm 34:1-3

 

4. heart-check questions

a. are we being lead astray?

At this point the question is being begged, “Is Social Media bad?” I would contend that Social Media in and of itself is a tool – morally neutral. However, this tool can be used for both good and evil. It is the user that controls the content – what’s posted, what they watch. It should come as no surprise then when sinful people, in a fallen world, have flooded Social Media with sinful behaviors – cyber bullying, sexual themes and the glorification of sexual perversions, worldly wisdom, and other “questionable content”.

matthew 5:29

If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

other Scriptures to consider:

Matthew 6:13

II Timothy 2:22

James 4:7

Psalm 119:11

b. are we building others up?

Opinions. Necessary? Where do they lead? What happens when you find someone who disagrees? “But people need to know where I stand!” I once heard it said, “I wish Christians were known less for what they are against and more for what they believe in.”

ephesians 4:29

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

philippians 2:14-15

Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe…”

james 3:10

Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.

We all know that there is plenty in the world that we can complain about, but it doesn’t mean we have to. We all know that misery loves company; therefore, what kind of company do we want to be? We all know we have our weak spots, hot buttons, pet peeves – how about being on our guard against such posts and topics?

other Scriptures to consider:

Romans 12:2

James 5:9

Romans 15:7

Colossians 3:12-13

Psalm 19:14

II Corinthians 10:5

Proverbs 18:2

c. is it gossip?

Although we may not like to admit it sometimes we struggle to tell the difference between "concern" and "gossip". We like to think that we are legitimately concerned about others and only want to know what's going on so we can pray. However, the unfortunate truth can often be that we are addicted to the gossip. "I have to know!" "Have you heard?!?" "Let me tell you...!"

Proverbs 16:28

A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.

Gossip is not just harmful to us, but to others and our walk with the Lord.

Matthew 12:35-37

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Proverbs 26:20-22

Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down. As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife. The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.

Galatians 5:15

If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

II Timothy 2:16

Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.

other Scriptures to consider:

James 3:5-12

Psalm 141:3

Proverbs 12:18

Ephesians 4:29

Luke 6:22

Psalm 120:1-2

d. are we being subject to a worldly master?

What do you reach for when you wake up? When you have a spare minute, what do you do? Do you sacrifice other things in pursuit of Social Media? If someone took away your phone and your ability to connect, would you be okay? Do you need to check every notification? Do you have as much urgency about analog relationship and person to person conversations?

matthew 6:24

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

matthew 6:24 – (altered)

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Social Media.

The point is clear. But it is worth noting that at this point that many for the sake of avoiding the reevaluating of their current practices will say the point is too hard or unnecessary. Dare we defend our idols?

I corinthians 10:14

Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.

I corinthians 6:12

“Everything is permissible for me”–but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”–but I will not be mastered by anything.

other Scriptures to consider:

I John 5:21

Galatians 5:1

Galatians 4:7

5. are we being lulled into inaction?

I peter 1:13

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self- controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

 

a. in the Lord’s army

As Christians we may have been taught, as kids, the Sunday School song “I’m in the Lord’s Army”:

I may never march in the infantry

Ride in the cavalry

Shoot the artillery

I may never fly o’er the enemy

But I’m in the Lord’s army (Yes, sir!)

I’m in the Lord’s army (Yes, sir!)

I’m in the Lord’s army (Yes, sir!)

I may never march in the infantry

Ride in the cavalry

Shoot the artillery

I may never fly o’er the enemy

But I’m in the Lord’s army (Yes, sir!)

The idea of being prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse seems to be more avidly accepted these days than being enthusiastic about living for Christ. Yet to this we were called:

colossians 3:17

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

colossians 2:23

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,

james 1:22

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

other Scriptures to consider:

Genesis 2:15

Proverbs 10:4-5

II Peter 1:5-9

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Ephesians 5:16

b. are we allowing ourselves to be discontent?

How do you feel when you see videos or pictures of others getting the new car, expensive vacation or the kudos from others? How do you feel when they succeed? How do you feel when they lose the baby/holiday weight?

matthew 22:39

And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. ‘

Discontentment has its roots in selfishness and envy. These are characteristics that should be far from us. We must fight that root of bitterness that grows up to cause trouble and defile many (Hebrews 12:15).

philippians 2:3-4

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

I john 2:16

For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world.

philippians 4:11-13

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

other Scriptures to consider:

Luke 12:15

Galatians 5:26

I Peter 2:1

Proverbs 23:17

Romans 12:15

Romans 15:1-2

I Timothy 6:6-11

c. do people see Christ in our online presence?

Social Media presents us with a unique way of letting out light shine before men. We can (and must) be a witness, making the most of every opportunity:

ephesians 5:15-16

Be very careful, then, how you live –not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

We are able to challenge, encourage, build up, spur on and, yes, rebuke. But may we remember to be careful to leave people with the sound of God’s Word ringing in their ears rather than our own opinions.

matthew 5:16

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

other Scriptures to consider:

Matthew 28:18-20

Matthew 5:13-16

Titus 2:7-8

Colossians 4:6

I Peter 3:15

d. do we value online relationship more than real-life ones?

john 15:12-14

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command.

Those that God has given us, our family members, friends, church members, neighbors, co-workers, these are our primary mission fields and we need to treat them as such. We must be purposeful:

proverbs 6:10-11

A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – 11 and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.

While our online presence means we don’t have to get out of our pajamas or have brushed our teeth before we talk with people, it can rob us of the fellowship that God intended for us. God never meant for us to be on our own:

genesis 2:18

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

hebrews 10:24-25

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another –and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

We were created for relationship – with God Himself and others around us. 7% of communication is based on the written or verbal word and a whopping 93% is based on nonverbal body language – Are we short-changing ourselves?

other Scriptures to consider:

Ephesians 4:1-6

Proverbs 17:17

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Matthew 22:39

Proverbs 25:14

e. do we have online relationships that should be cut off?

I corinthians 15:33

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

proverbs 22:24-25

Do not make friends with a hot- tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, 25 or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.

There is a very real danger for God’s people in compromising with the “friends” that we keep and those we associate with. It is far easier to pull someone down as opposed to pulling someone up (try it in a physical sense sometime – grab a chair and a partner). Though we are called to be in the world but not of it, we are called to be wise in the friends we choose.

proverbs 1:10

My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them.

Some of our connections online do not spur us on towards love and good deeds. Are we able to change those connections or are they changing us. Do not be deceived.

II corinthians 6:14

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?

other Scriptures to consider:

Romans 1:18

Proverbs 3:35

Psalm 125:5

Proverbs 17:15

Philippians 4:8

II Corinthians 5:11

 

6. parents, are we protecting our children?

Researcher surveyed a total of 1,255 teens and 1,048 parents from Upstate NY. 87% of the parents talk to said that their teen had their own smartphone and was regularly exposed to cyber-bullying.

Between 1/4 - 1/3 of the teens confessed to their own experiences with the occasional or frequent cyber-bullying, while many more reported witness others, including their friends being bullied online.

Here are the reasons the teens gave for why they were bullied: Physical appearance (42%), social awkwardness (35%), sexual orientation (34%), clothing (30%), being un-athletic (30%), having a disability (25%), and sexual activity (19%).

A third of the teens openly said that their parents are basically clueless about what they do online.

deuteronomy 6:6-9

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

We are to set the example, in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity (1 Timothy 4:12). Aim for perfection (II Corinthians 13:11). Now let’s be honest it can be intimidating. “I just don’t understand their world”. Yup, I know – that’s why we aim for perfection. I don’t hit everything I aim at, but I must not give up.

galatians 6:9

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

We do not need to know/ understand everything. We must only hold to what we do know.

philippians 3:12-15

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

15 All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.

II timothy 1:7-8

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self- discipline. 8 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God

As parents we must be vigilant about what our children are experiencing in real life and online. We cannot allow our fear to stop us from teaching our teens about the Lord, standing on the authority He has given us as parents and forging a friendship that stand the test of time with our most precious mission field.

other Scriptures to consider:

Psalm 127:3-5

Mark 9:42

Romans 3:23

Deuteronomy 29:29

Deuteronomy 30:11-16

7. a prayer...

I am reminded when I think about our online presence and our relationships with our children and others, of St. Patrick’s breastplate prayer and it seems a suitable sentiment to end on:

Christ be with me, Christ within me,

Christ behind me, Christ before me,

Christ beside me, Christ to win me,

Christ to comfort and restore me

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,

Christ in hearts of all that love me,

Christ in mouth of friend or stranger.