In the information age, everyone has a voice. Anonymously or onymously, social media casts our judgments before the world. At the best of times, social media gives a voice to the powerless or a voice to those who advocate for the powerless.
And this is good. Sometimes we must stand up with a prophetic voice to call out injustice wherever we might find it. Do this.
But be wary of the addiction of being a social media prophet.
The Addicting Influence of Social Media
So let’s say you write a popular Tweet. Hundreds or thousands of people affirm you. Chemicals course through your body. You feel good. This feels right. But is it?
Certainly, we are called to do good and hate evil. But have we become too reliant on social media in our duty to condemn evil?
Here’s a test: Do you call out evil in your own heart and in your own community as often and with equal ferocity as you do online? If not, you might be addicted to being a social media prophet.
Tilling the Field in Quietness
Christians are not called to constant, public assaults on all evil everywhere in the world via social media. But we are called to love sacrificially, to hold each other to a standard of holiness, and to share the love of Christ.
The information age, however, has made this task overwhelming if we feel we must combat all injustice everywhere at all times. We can’t do it all. But we can do something. So, start at home, then in your local church, and finally in your community.
And be a prophet online once a year. It’s beautiful for Christians to highlight truth in uniformity. And social media uniquely lets us do so. Call out sexual abuse, call out inequality, call out evil. Do it.
But let’s remember the words of the apostle Paul:
Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. (1 Thess 4:9–12)
Paul’s words are certainly counter-cultural but not in the way we might expect. Paul says that our “daily life” accomplished in quietness will “win the respect of outsiders.” And he also underscores minding our own business and working faithfully (“with your hands”) as good things that contribute to winning the respect of outsiders.
Stop and consider this.
It’s not about having 10,000 followers online, fighting for a social cause (although this is sometimes right!). It’s primarily about living a holy, quiet life; it’s about winning your neighbours by your consistent and bold witness of faith.
Yes: our lives will require a bold, prophetic witness. But a large part of that witness includes making it our ambition to lead a quiet life.
So be countercultural. Work with your hands. Be faithful. Win outsiders who see your life, not by a continual prophetic voice online, but by a continual, quiet faithfulness and a Christ-shaped love for others.