Recently I was scrolling down my Facebook feed and came across something that bothered me. It was a meme of President Obama complaining that the Republicans were undoing his plans while Jesus was standing next to him complaining that the Democrats were destroying his.
My gut reaction to that meme wasn’t good. I typed and deleted something. I typed something else and then deleted that too. I eventually just gently encouraged the person (that I have a relationship with) to think about posting anything tying Jesus to any political party. It made me remember why my initial reaction was so fast and negative (other than the obvious).
One of our newest challenges as parents and Jesus followers is social media. How do we help our kids navigate it? How do we navigate it? How do we show our kids (who are or will be watching) how to post in a way that honors God and his calling in our lives, especially in these politically polarizing times? Here are a few thoughts I’d like to share with you.
Jesus wouldn’t vote for your candidate
I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but if you think that Jesus thinks just like you do…you’re wrong. Far too often, I believe that Jesus would believe like I do. I mean, my hearts in the right place. I want the best for people. I believe that I am right. If I didn’t believe those things about my opinions, I wouldn’t have those opinions.
I also read scripture through a biased lens…my lens. So when I’m thinking through topics or see something political or an issue, I believe that Jesus would feel the same way. But we can’t know that every time.
Jesus did crazy stuff. He broke Sabbath rules and associated them with outsiders. He spent time with “less thans” and spoke harshly to the religious elite. He forgave people for capital offenses and used spit to heal a blind person. He said what was, at the time, pretty “out there” stuff. Even the people that he spent almost all his time with were rejects.
So just because I think Jesus would see an issue the way I do doesn’t mean that’s true. He may see it in an entirely different way. And even if he did see it my way, I can pretty much guarantee that he would go about it differently than I would, specifically when it comes to politics.
When he stood before Governor Pontius Pilate, Jesus was asked: “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus’ response wasn’t what Pilate expected. In John 18:36, Jesus said, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”
Jesus wouldn’t go about bringing change the way we necessarily would. So don’t think that Jesus would automatically support your candidate or vote like you do or even support the same platforms. Jesus would probably do something entirely different that we can’t imagine. He would do something to bring healing and still challenge the system.
So before you post how Christian one party, one politician is or isn’t understand that Jesus probably doesn’t see it the same.
Just because it makes you feel right doesn’t mean it is right
The insistence that YOU are the right one is one of the hardest parts about social media right now. We all tend to gravitate towards echo chambers of similar ideals. No one likes to be challenged in their thinking. So most of us track towards what we agree with, whether it’s news shows or anchors, websites, news sources, certain preachers, blogs, etc. Very rarely do we ever stop to think that maybe — just maybe — we may not be the end all be all authority on any given subject.
Facebook is filled with people sharing stuff because it fits their narrative. It doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong because most of us will see something and hit share. Boom! Take that you so and so. We feel vindicated. We feel powerful. We feel RIGHT!
It doesn’t matter if the meme or post makes you feel right if it’s wrong. When Jesus followers post and share factually inaccurate things, it hurts our witness. Take a few moments to think about the post you’re going to share. Does it fit your thinking 100%? Chances are it’s false. There aren’t many things in life that are black & white. Do a quick google search to see how much of it is true. It will take just a few moments of your time, and isn’t your witness worth at least that much?
Just because that post or meme makes you feel right doesn’t mean that it is.
There’s a fine line between being a jackwagon and being a Jesus follower
You’re probably reading that thinking, “Wait…what?” But it’s true. When people think God’s “on their side,” they are superior. If we start coming from a place of superiority, then we are going to start being jackwagons. And Jesus isn’t looking for jackwagons he’s looking for followers.
How easy is it to spout off on Facebook or Twitter? How easy is it to say things, from the safety of a phone or computer screen, that we would never say face to face? How easy is it to lose empathy and sympathy? Incredibly.
In Matthew 12, the religious leaders were questioning a miracle that Jesus had performed by accusing him of getting his powers from the devil (insert sinister music here). In Jesus’ response, he says something striking that applies to what and why we post on social media. In verse 36, he says, “And I tell you this; you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.”
It’s no less for social media. Put it this way, “And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle post you shared. The words you typed will either acquit you or condemn you.”
So… are you a jackwagon or Jesus follower? Your posts with either acquit or condemn.
What’s the point?
Jesus said his kingdom isn’t of this world. So why do we let so much of this kingdom drag us down? Why do we wallow in the mud and sludge when we’re called to more? Why do we think that posting something means we’ve done our jobs?
Did Jesus say, “I tell you the truth, when you posted for the least of these my brothers and sister, you were posting for me?”
He said, “I tell you the truth when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sister, you were doing it to me!”
Why are we posting something? If you’re anything like me, my first impulse is because it makes me feel like a good person OR it makes me feel better than “them.” But is that what Jesus calls us to? To posting stuff?
Now hear me when I say this; we can use social media for God and good things. Posting can bring awareness to a problem. It can advocate for the least of these. But we aren’t called to post and be done. We are called to action.
In the letter titled 1 John he tells us, “Dear children, let us not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” (1 John 3:18) We aren’t called to post about things (though we can) we are called to do something about the things we’re posting.
Post to bring awareness, to advocate, to encourage, but don’t stop there. Go do something about it.
We live in a polarizing world. Red and blue. Our kids feel that. We feel that. Everyone feels that. But we can do something to change it. Forget parties and forget politics. Forget posting on social media. What would happen if we decided to live out the radical call of Jesus in our lives? How many relationships would be healed? How many strongholds brought down? How many bellies could we fill? How many feet could we shoe?
Let’s show our kids, our neighbors, classmates, co-workers and community what happens when Jesus followers lay down their need to be right and pick up their cross. Let’s show them what our Jesus’ kingdom really looks like!