Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Paul and Social Media

 By: Rebekah Hargraves

Photo Courtesy Of: Georgia de Lotz

 “They learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not.” ~1 Timothy 5:13

“But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.”  ~1 Thessalonians 4:10b-12

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think Paul would be a fan of social media – at least not the way we too often use it!

While it is certainly true that social media can be - and often is! - used to advance the gospel, further the kingdom, glorify God, encourage the saints, and spread truth, it can also all too often become  a dumpster fire (I mean, have you been on Facebook lately??). Personal attacks, name calling, and divisive debates run rampant - even among professing believers!

Not only can social media be a dramatic place; it can also be a place teeming with comparison, competition, and gossip. Never before in the history of the world have we been able to acquire such an in-depth glimpse into the lives of so many people – even people on the other side of the world from us! This results in nearly constant comparison, competition, jealousy, and sometimes even gossip and unfair assumptions.

So, why do I bring Paul into this? He obviously didn’t live with anything even close to resembling social media, right? Well, that is right….and also wrong. 

While Paul didn’t have the internet, let alone social media, the problems of gossip, jealousy and competition which we find to be so prevalent online were not problems birthed by social media.They were merely magnified and expanded to a far larger scale by it.

In that sense, Paul was battling many of the very same issues we are battling today. Because the sins of pride, jealous coveting, and gossip begin in the human heart and not on any computer or phone, Paul had much to say about these very same issues in his day. 

Consider, for a moment, his words in the passages quoted above, and tell me if they don’t sound like they could apply to our behavior everyday on social media! My purpose today isn't to tell you that you must get off social media and deactivate all your accounts in order to live a quiet life as Paul instructed (though you should be open to doing so, if the Holy Spirit so leads! What I am saying, though, is that we need to stop just going through the motions and allowing social media to sweet us off into dangerous and even sinful territory.

The Greek word translated “to lead a quiet life” in 1 Thessalonians 4 is “hēsychazō” and literally means “to keep still (intransitively), i.e. refrain from labor, meddlesomeness or speech:—cease, hold peace, be quiet, rest.”

We as believers can still be present on social media and harness it for good and for the advancement of the kingdom! But only so far as we lead the quiet lives we have been called to live as believers. It has been said before that the internet never sleeps, meaning that we could easily hop on the social media platform of choice at any time of the day and night and see what we can learn about people, what we can pick apart about them, and all the ways in which we “should” hustle to be like them. That is the common temptation, right?

But we have been called to live quiet lives. Lives where we willingly work with our own hands, are concerned about our own affairs, and prioritize rest. May we purpose to do those very things, and thereby be a shining light to the watching world – including the watching world of social media!

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