I have been tempted so often to completely do away with Facebook. The good of Facebook is that it allows me to keep up with people I might otherwise lose track of. It allows me to reacquaint myself with friends all the way back from high school. It reminds me of birthdays and anniversaries and special events. It enables me to share positive and encouraging words with people on the other side of the world. It is also a platform for sharing prayer requests, audio and video messages, and reminders with my church family.
But there is a darker side to Facebook. It is littered with scams, frauds, and fake news. People use platforms like Facebook to post things they would never say to another person’s face. All decorum and decency gets striped away in a rush to share a video, comment, or “news” story. Fact-checking, even though it may only take a moment or two, is virtually nonexistent. I had an English teacher back at Roanoke High whose exclamation when she was appalled at something we said or wrote was – “Oh, vomit!” I regularly feel like saying that when perusing Facebook.
What makes it worse is the quick-to-judge attitude that believers have toward other believers. You’d think that if a Christian read an accusation against a brother or sister, that follower of Jesus would slow down, consider the accusation, consider the source, do everything within his or her power to determine what is true, what is false, and what is murky, and be hesitant to throw that believer (or Christian organization) under the bus.
My brothers and sisters, I am grieved daily at how quickly some believers are to throw other believers under the bus! And it seems hordes of other believers are willing to take the word of a Facebook post and climb on the bus demanding it be run back and forth over that accused brother or sister until he or she is thoroughly humiliated and their influence is no more.
We are told that Satan is “the accuser of the brethren.” Well, he can rest easy knowing that we, the body of Christ, will gladly take that mantel upon ourselves. The father of lies needs not lift a finger, since our fingers run frantically up and down our keyboards to do his nefarious work for him.
So I’m stuck with this Frankenstein’s monster of a social media platform. Its good aspects are very good. Its bad side is very bad. Perhaps it is more of a metaphor for life in the 21st century than I’d like to think.
For the two dozen or so people who will read this (I am under no illusion about my online impact in the world), let me offer some biblical advice as we close 2019 and enter into 2020. The words come from the Apostle Paul. They were written to a local church in the city of Ephesus. The world was not better then than it is now… and in many ways was much worse. He wrote —
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32)
Instead of our ready response of outrage and our gnawing need to share accusations without taking even a minute to try to verify the truthfulness of said accusations, perhaps we might choose a different course. Perhaps we might be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Perhaps our speech might be seasoned with grace. Perhaps our words might be marked by kindness and compassion rather than be dripping with snarkiness.
There are indeed times when we need to alert our brothers and sisters to wolves in sheep’s clothing, but there is no doubt that we are to speak the truth IN LOVE. Quite honestly, my Facebook feed is filled with far more unbridled outrage than Christlike love.