Like that Bible verse. Retweet that Christian quote. Share that story about global missions. The perfect formula to “look like you believe in Jesus”.
But looking like you believe in Jesus doesn’t save your soul; actually believing in Jesus does.
I’ve often written about the dangers of social media, but I haven’t put much emphasis on the Church and social media. I love social media, and I think it could be a great modern tool to reach people, but it can also lead people to put on masks in order to get the most likes, retweets, and shares. The truth is, social media often portrays a life that doesn’t exist.
There are just some of the unattainable ideals I often see portrayed on social media by the church:
- Everyone has time to read the Bible for hours, despite having spouses, children, and responsibilities. And they always hear the voice of God every single time. Every single time I open the Bible, angels come down and worship God with me. That must be what reading God’s word is like.
- Nobody ever sins. Ever. Not even once. They’re not even tempted. If you’re tempted, something must be wrong with you. That must be what following Christ is like.
- Everyone has a perfect spouse. Nobody ever argues with their spouse. They get spoiled by their spouse every single day. That’s what marriage must be like.
- Kids never act out. They’re always perfect. They never fight with each other. That’s what having kids must be like.
- Friends are ALWAYS there for you, always ready to hang out somewhere, and the relationships are always perfect. That must be what community is like.
- The church doesn’t judge. At all. If you do happen to be the only person on the planet that is tempted (or worse, that sinned), then you will lose no friends (ever), everyone will look at you the same, and people will pour in to pray for you and love on you during dark times.
I’ve seen more over the years, but that covers the basics. The truth is, none of these things are real. That’s not to say these things don’t happen from time to time. Surely, they do happen, but not as often as social media may make it seem. Sure, there are days when I have a good hour to read the Bible or a book, but there are also days when I don’t have time for a cup of coffee, let alone time to read. I have days when my kids are great, but I also have days when they drain me of all my energy. I’ve had some great friends who stood by me through thick and thin, but I’ve also had friends who left me the SECOND they found out I sinned (and the truth is, years later, I still haven’t fully healed from having such close “Christian” friends treat me like a stranger).
Ed Stetzer has a great phrase pinned to the top of his profile that says “Beware of practicing your righteousness before Twitter.” Personally, I feel like many people use their social media to portray this Christianity that simply doesn’t exist. Following Jesus isn’t a piece of cake.
Following Jesus is hard. Relationships are messy. Marriage is difficult. Kids go crazy sometimes. Friends aren’t always true friends.
Don’t practice your righteousness before Instagram for the likes. Don’t practice your holiness before Twitter for the retweets.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” – Matthew 7:21-23
God isn’t going to be looking through your Twitter feed or your Instagram story on the day of judgment. He’ll be looking at your life. Saying you believe in Jesus won’t be enough.
You must actually follow Christ.