In the movie The Social Network, which follows the creation and development of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook) proposes to his friend and cofounder Eduardo Saverin, “Why don’t we take the social experience of college and put it on the internet?” That is essentially what all social media sites do. They take the social experience of life and put it on the internet. Social media sites digitalize life.
Since the phenomena of Facebook and Twitter, the world has dramatically changed both for better and worse. This is especially seen in the life of a Christian. Social media sites can both serve and harm a Christian’s walk with Christ. But really, all social media has done is given us a dual social experience. Just as Christians can build one another up and tear one another down in social settings like small groups and church events, they can encourage and degrade one another online. The problem is that while we acknowledge our need to steer clear of temptation in physical social settings, we feel more safe to sin online. While we may do damage to our own hearts in public settings through our words and actions, we are much more likely to do damage to our own hearts in private settings through a public domain.
How do we do damage to our hearts online? We fill them with sinful images, conversations, trends, and fads. Social media sites allows us to quickly have social experiences, both good and bad. To say the least, social media has changed the world, but the only way for it to not change Christians is for Christians to wisely use social media to their benefit, not their detriment.
At the last Secret Church, pastor David Platt focused on “The Cross and the Christian Life.” During the six hours of teaching, he taught a humorous, yet compelling section titled “The Cross and Listening, Watching, Reading, Texting, Sending, Receiving, Posting, Tweeting, Instagramming, Blogging, Messaging, Tumbling, Liking, Poking, Following, Unfollowing, Emailing, Snapping, Chatting, Vining, Networking, and all sorts of othering.” In this section, Platt offers “10 Cross-Centered Commandments for Entertainment and Social Media.” Within these ten commandments are various sub points that are immensely insightful and convicting. As a blogger and a frequent user of both Facebook and Twitter, these social media guidelines have helped me make the most of my life online while guarding my heart from sin.
I hope you consider each of these guidelines and that they may serve you in your use of social media.
10 Cross-Centered Commandments for Entertainment and Social Media
- Fear God
- Flee sexual immorality
- Flee sexual lust
- Flee sexual immodesty
- Flee sexual allurement
- Flee sexual looking outside of marriage
- Flee entertainment that exalts, glamorizes, jokes around about, and/or makes light of sex outside of marriage
- Speak wisely
- Think before you speak
- Will what I say adorn the gospel?
- Will what I say glorify God?
- Avoid evil and angry speech
- Avoid retaliatory and inflammatory speech
- Avoid gossip and slander
- Avoid grumbling and complaining
- Avoid saying on a screen what you wouldn’t say in person
- Communicate honestly
- Cultivate humility
- Avoid the “humble brag”
- Have accountability
- Maintain mastery
- Does social media control you?
- Guard your heart
- From envy and jealousy
- From pride and ambition
- From unhealthy friendships and unhelpful associations
- Renew your mind
- Beware falsehood
- Beware filth
- Beware frivolity
- Redeem your time
- Make the most of every opportunity
- Don’t neglect other priorities
- Your time at work
- Your time to rest
- Your time with people
- Your time with God
–David Platt, The Cross and Everyday Life, Secret Church 2014, pp. 150-165
Mathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies, Dec. ’14). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife Erica and their dog, Simba.