There is no shortage of blog posts condemning the negative aspects and effects of social media and, in fact, part two of this series aimed to do just that. Yet the creations of Zuckerberg and Dorsey aren’t all bad now, are they? Far from it. As followers of Jesus, there are actually quite a few benefits from participating in the virtual world of social media. While it would be overkill to attempt a description of all of them, here are three gospel-centered positives from social media usage.
Injection of Gospel Reminders
There are days for all of us when it feels like worries and discouragements are overtaking us. Sometimes these seasons last longer than days - weeks, months, and even years. While it might seem like a pebble-throwing tactic in a war of canons, having a gospel-drenched news feed can aid in your joy in Christ.
I’ve experienced this firsthand. I’ve had hard days of ministry or work that were put into gospel perspective by a simple 140-character tweet. There are brothers and sisters who are gifted at mining the “gospel deeps” through social media and I’d recommend giving them a follow.
One of the beautiful things about major social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter is that you have complete control over who you follow. So then, follow those who consistently talk about the wonder of Jesus Christ in a way that stirs your affections. Find and follow those who will inject the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ into your gospel-needy veins every time you log in.
The Pulse of Culture
It’s probably not a surprise to you that most people intake their news primarily from social media. Media outlets, true and false, are quick to spread the latest happenings all over your news feeds. Moreover, everyone – from your uber-liberal college friend who thinks the Church should start giving communion to lesbian puppies, to your small-town uncle who swears that none of the articles he shares are racist – loves to share their favorite bias-confirming articles.
While you might hate the ever-present sharing of current events, news, politics, sports, reviews, etc. on your timeline, the truth is that there is one underlining positive: we know the pulse of culture.
The reality is that social media, for good and bad, is a window into what our society finds important and pressing. While this is mostly a depressing reality, it is helpful for those of us who happen to be ambassadors of reconciliation. We are not called to proclaim the treasure of Jesus to a hypothetical people or culture. Rather, we are called to take the grandeur and grace of the gospel into a world with actual people, with actual pains, in an actual culture. Social media allows us to keep our thumb on the pulse of culture in a way that not much else can.
Your Most Public Platform
Memes and posts with painted Jesus holding lambs and naked babies with captions that say, “Share this and if you don’t God will smite you with a thunderbolt,” have all but ruined the Church’s public witness, but there is still good in the public platform of social media.
The blessing and curse of social media is that it gives anyone a platform to say anything. And let’s be honest, there are enough people saying tremendously annoying and unhelpful things all day long. Don’t join in. In a thread of confirmation bias, hate, uncareful thinking, narcissism, and over exaggerations, be the voice of gospel reason. Along with the responsibility of believers to post gospel truth also comes the responsibility of posting with gospel love. See to it that your social media streams neglect neither.
A reality that you need to be aware of when using social media is that when you post stuff, people read it. So post things worth reading. Leverage your ability to push a few buttons and send a message to the world for the glory of God and the advance of his life-giving gospel.
Though the negatives of social media seem to justify abstaining from using it (and for some, it should) there are some gospel positives that come along with our virtual societies. If social media users can press into these realities while straying from some of the pitfalls, social media can actually act as a gospel well we should drink from often.