Social media has become a place for you and your friends to share life and to be in touch with immediate and extended family members, acquaintances, and each other. It’s a place to share pictures, news, causes to which you’re committed, and other conversational tidbits. Social media has also been an excellent way to reconnect with friends from the past. For these reasons, it’s not hard to understand its incredible popularity. It’s a place to go every day where lots of people know your name and have publicly said they want to be your friend.
But there is another side to putting yourself “out there” in public on social media.
Your Life—For All the World to See
Once you go public on social media, you are inviting the entire world to know about your life—or at least the scores or hundreds with whom you have established a friend relationship. You can’t say one thing and do another. You can’t live a public life and a shadow life. At the very least, it becomes harder, more risky, to do so. The larger your network becomes, the more likely that someone will read something you thought would stay private and make it public.
For Christians, social media is another opportunity to ask ourselves, who am I? Who is the person I am presenting to the world? What are others learning about me, my values, my priorities, and my purpose in life? Do I talk more like the world or more like Jesus? Who do I most want to please—other people or my Lord?
Living a Life Above Reproach
It’s always been true that “you can run, but you can’t hide”—and the Internet has made it doubly true. But we shouldn’t want to! What can we do to live the kind of life the apostle Paul called “blameless,” or “above reproach” (1 Timothy 3:2)? How can we live a life in which there is no dividing wall between public and private.
First, live intimately and honestly before God. When the double life King David had been living was brought to light by a prophet from God, he recorded his psalm of contrition for all of Israel (and now the world) to read (Psalm 51). David realized that what he thought was hidden had been in God’s sight all along. He was an adulterer and an accomplice to murder in his hidden life but a noble king in his public life. And God called him on it—and he had to repent. David’s other great testament to transparency is Psalm 139 in which he confessed that God is everywhere and sees everything. And he concluded that prayer with what should be our prayer daily: “Search me, know me, test my heart, show me anything You see that I don’t see. And lead me in Your ways” (Psalm 139:23-24, paraphrased).
Second, live openly before the Word of God. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews reminded his readers that everything is “naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” And one of the ways God shows us what He sees in us is by the “living and powerful” Word of God that probes our deepest parts, revealing the “thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12-13). And Psalm 119:9 reminds us that we “cleanse” our way by “taking heed according to [God’s] word.” Meditating “day and night” on “the law of the LORD” will result in the “reproof” and “correction” we need (Psalm 1:2; 2 Timothy 3:16).
Third, live accountably before others. Hebrews 10:24-25 says we are to motivate “one another” to live a life of “love and good works,” “exhorting one another.” Family, of course, is our first line of defense against living with double standards, and the family of God should be the second. If you are not in a small group or some other context with other Christians who know your life inside and out, you are missing out on one of the chief blessings and purposes of the body of Christ: accountability for a life of holiness.
If you are on social media, use it as a place to cultivate the life you want your best Friend, Jesus Christ, to see on a daily basis; a place where what you say about yourself is pleasing to Him.
Dr. Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point for God and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California.
For more information on Turning Point, go to www.DavidJeremiah.org.
King Solomon observed, “Riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations” (Proverbs 27:24). That’s why Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth… but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19-20). He also reminded us, “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life” (John 6:27). Paul added, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2). And John wrote, “Do not love the world or the things in the world… The world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15, 17). The message is clear: Our focus should be on eternal possessions and treasures—not on temporal pleasures and pursuits. In fact, the Bible records rewards that will be awarded to the faithful.A Child of the King
Anyone who follows the international news is used to hearing members of the British Royal Family referred to by only their first name—such as Prince Charles, Prince William, or Queen Elizabeth. Members of England’s (or any) Royal Family follow the centuries-old tradition of having first names and titles only. But modern conventions demand last names as well. But what is the surname for members of the Royal Family? The surname for the Royal Family has been Windsor since 1917. Queen Elizabeth chose to include a reference to her husband’s ancestry, so her descendants have the surname of Mountbatten-Windsor. However, Prince William and his family could use the name “Cambridge,” since he is the Duke of Cambridge, and Prince Harry could use the name “Sussex,” in accordance to his royal title. The name they choose to use does not change their ancestry, it just exemplifies their role in the monarchy.Benissimo
The Benissimo (“I Am Fine”) Mask is uniquely Venetian, for Venice is famous not only for its canals and masks but also for its glassmakers. During the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the principal center of European glassmaking was the Venetian island of Murano. Great cathedrals across Europe adorn their windows and mosaics with the superb stained glass from Venice.
It isn’t surprising, then, that the stained glass mask was among the most popular on the city’s Grand Canal. People wearing the mask appeared religious when in fact they were perhaps nothing of the kind.
The Benissimo Mask is equally popular among American churchgoers. On the outside, we often give the appearance that all is well. “I’m fine,” we say if asked. “I attend a great church. I have a marvelous family. My job’s great.”
But beneath the mask is a heart that says, “Things are not all right. My marriage is rocky. My kids are drifting. I’m lapsing in hidden areas of my life. I don’t feel close to God. I’m hurting.”
Could you be wearing this mask? Are you giving others the impression you’re doing better than you really are?