By Bre Gustafson
As social media has become more popular and normalized over the past 10 years, there is a debate within the Christian community about whether or not Christians should participate and if so, how should they participate with social media?
Simple terms: one side believes that a social media presence can emphasize vanity, is self-centered, be distracting to your faith and misrepresent Christians.
Heck! Even Pope Francis has an Instagram!
The other side thinks it’s totally fine and can be a platform to praise God and evangelize, in essence, sharing your faith, through any medium, is a positive thing.
To lay my cards out on the table, I am a Christian. I have one social media account: Instagram. I am not over eccentric with my faith, I don’t use “christian hashtags” and I don’t go around evangelizing my faith. That being said, in conversation, I frequently give credit to God for the good and bad in my life because I know that my life intentionally has a purpose thought out by God. Simply put, I love Jesus. I try to view all in the way Jesus would; Everyone has dignity. Everyone deserves love. Everyone deserves to be accepted.
I have asked myself if my Instagram profile is reflective of a “christian”…. what ever that means. Is there a wrong and right way to be a christian on social media? I don’t have an answer.
But here are some observations:
Ash Wednesday is an incredibly powerful and mournful day that marks the first day of Lent and always falls 40 days before Easter, the resurrection of Jesus. The period of Lent is characteristically filled with fasting, reflection, and to be aware of temptations in your life. The 40 days is metaphorical to Jesus’ 40 days in the dessert where he fasted, reflected and endured temptation by Satan. The ashes used to draw a cross on your forehead is a humbling representation of our grief that life is fleeting and we are all going to die. Genesis 3:19:
“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”
Traditionally, you get the ashes put on in the morning, to then walk around all day as a visible repentance of your sin.
Now that we are done with the religious studies lesson…. is this something that should be on Instagram? Does snapping a selfie represent the importance of ash Wednesday or does it diminish it? Thoughts? Right, wrong… or is this a gray area?
Selfies and Scripture
Another trend among Christians is to take a selfie and post an inspirational christian quote or scripture. Totally makes sense right? Wait… what?!
I am so torn with this concept… Self-worshiping + scripture = evangelism. Is this one of those “humble brags” scenarios? The person is not necessarily doing or saying anything wrong but it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
The Unlocking the Bible blog attempts to provide a remedy to the christian + social media dilemma. If you are a christian ask yourself these 15 questions:
1. Are you seeking to glorify God through social media?
2. Does social media lead you into sin?
3. Does your speech build up or tear down?
4. Do people see the light of Christ in you based on what you post?
5. Is social media your master?
6. Does your use of social media help you redeem the time that God has given you?
7. Does your use of social media help you renew your mind in God’s truth like you should?
8. Do you use social media as a platform to complain?
9. Do you use social media for unprofitable arguments?
10. Do you value social media interactions more than real-life relationships?
11. Does social media make you a healthier and more productive person?
12. Do you have any relationships through social media that you should cut off?
13. Does social media help you be content?
14. Do you use social media to boost your ego and feel good about yourself?
15. Do you use social media to hide?
Whether or not religion has a place on Instagram is not solely a Christian issue.
The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, and a mandatory religious duty for Muslims which must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey. This year’s Hajj took place from October 2-7, 2014 and was declared by TIME as “The year of the selfie!”
For those that are not familiar with the tenants of Islam, please note that the Kaab located in the center of Mecca is considered THEE HOLIEST place in the entire world for Muslims.
Is there an appropriate way for religion and social media to coexist? For those that believe in some sort of religion or faith, what are the “dos and don’ts” to navigating social media ? If you have a faith, are you guilty of this behavior? Thoughts?