Worshiping in spirit and in truth simply means worshiping with the proper attitude and doing the right things (John 4:24). If worship is to be done in spirit and truth then the service we offer by our lives is to be done in spirit and truth as well (Rom. 12:1). Living in spirit and truth has always been complicated but in the last two decades we have introduced social media and made it even more complicated.
The platform of social media changes from time to time. Myspace gives way and makes room for Facebook. Snapchat fell out of favor with the masses. Instagram rose in prominence. YouTube is holding on and revamping to be more conducive to social interaction between its subscribers. It does not matter which platform is popular or which platform you use, you must maintain a life of service to God in spirit and truth. How is that done? To answer that question we will notice the main misconception about social media, the main problem with social media, and the solution to the problem.
The Main Misconceptions About Social Media
What we do in this plane of existence lasts in eternity. According to the voice from heaven, the labor of the dead who die in the Lord follow them (Rev. 14:13). In like manner, our evil deeds will follow us if we die outside the Lord (Rom. 2:6). Thus it is with social media.
Sadly, many refer to their face to face interaction with this world as the “real world” and social media as “not the real world.” The concept that social media does not affect our existence in this world and the next is absurd.
A cursory search of the internet turns up cyberbullyhotline.com, which list statistics concerning the pandemic problem of bullying online. Cyberbullyhotline.com lists, “42% of teenagers with tech access report being cyberbullied over the past year,” “of the 69% of teens that own their own computer or smart phone, 80% are active on social media, and “20% of kids cyberbullied think about suicide, and 1 in 10 attempt it.” Am I saying that Christians on social media are bullying people to the point of suicide? No, I am not. However, these statistics are indicative of a powerful tool that can not be relegated to the realm of “not the real world.”
What we do on social media affects us, period. It does not happen without consequences. If we can understand that social media is simply media, and there is no difference between social media and the real world, then we will be much better equipped to live in spirit and truth in a social media world.
The Main Problem With Social Media
In my personal ministry I am heavily involved with social media as a gospel preacher. I am part of a group of men who work together to spread the gospel on Facebook. From personal experience, the negative things Christians do on social media have less to do with living a wicked life in their face to face interactions and more to do with how they conduct themselves fulfilling their obligations to the Great Commission.
There have been more atrocities committed in the name of contending for the faith on social media than I would care to try and list. I know we are told to contend for the faith (Jude 3). Are we to contend to the point of casting the very life of a Christian in a negative light? If you will allow me to appropriate the words of Paul, God forbid!
A principle comes to mind from Paul’s letter to the Christians in Corinth. These Christians were trying to live in spirit and truth in the socioeconomic climate of the first century. Sadly, they were taking fellow Christians to court and suing them (1 Cor. 6:6). Paul spoke of this as being a shame to them (1 Cor. 6:5). He said that the solution to this is to just take the wrong (1 Cor. 6:7). Notice that Paul equated the wrong of going to court in front of unbelievers to the wrong that the offending brother committed in the first place (1 Cor. 6:8). This principle is applicable to Christians living their lives in spirit and truth in a social media world. Christian, take the wrong!
Being offended is the new “it” thing to be. If we look in the right places we will find offensive things on social media. If we look hard enough and diligently enough, we will find Christians who disagree with us on matters of judgment and on matters of salvation. It seems that some Christians on social media take it upon themselves to reprove all the unfruitful works of darkness in existence (Eph. 5:11). I know that reproving the unfruitful works of darkness is a commandment that is in the Bible and that it is applicable to Christians even in a social media world. Yet, there are unbelievers who see everything we do on social media. When we publicly mark someone as a heretic, in principle we are going to law before the unbelievers. Christians have not been living and interacting with social media long enough to understand the ramifications of hauling a alleged heretic before a social media tribunal and denouncing him as hell bound. We are not called to be spiritual policemen. Contrariwise Paul asked whether we should rather take the wrong or at least deal with the alleged heretic privately. When we publicly mark alleged false teachers on social media we are sacrificing our effectiveness to reach others with the gospel upon the altar of being right. Friends, that might be in truth, but it is certainly not in spirit.
If we want to live and serve in spirit and truth on social media, we must cast our Christianity in the best possible light. As Christians we must not wallow in the mud with those who would tarnish the very name of Christ which we wear. Publicly airing our grievances, whether justified or not, is the main problem otherwise faithful Christians face while trying to live in spirit and truth in a social media world.
Now, if you are like me you have fallen short from time to time. Do not lose heart. Simply resolve to be more Christ-like in your approach to evangelism on social media (Phil. 2:1-11). Now, let us look at some Scripture in order to understand how to solve the problem of social media.
The Solution To The Problem
The solution to the problem facing the Christian living life in spirit and truth in a social media world is simple. Do less contending for the faith and more evangelism. The microcosm of social media is not the place to contend for the faith by policing brethren. We have to shine light on error, we have to preach truth which convicts, and we must preach the whole counsel of God. However, we can not do this by imposing our opinions of the way things ought to be on others (Acts 20:27; Eph. 5:11; 2 Tim. 4:2).
How can we solve the problem of social media? It is simple. Lead a quiet life, mind our own business, and work as we are commanded by God (1 Thess. 4:11). If we can accomplish these three things, then we will lack nothing, and we will be known to walk honestly to those who are unbelievers (1 Thess. 4:12).
Keeping the commandments given to us by God will help to solve the problem with social media. If we are busy doing the Lord’s evangelistic work, then we will not have time to haul others before a social media tribunal. Again, we are not called to be spiritual policemen.
If we believe the best in our brethren and do not jump to conclusions, we will not be offended so quickly (1 Cor. 13:7). In so doing, we will be able to show the love of Jesus to the world by showing a love for the brethren (John 13:34-35). By showing love toward our brethren, we can show the world that it is desirous to be a Christian. Then perhaps those that see us will be drawn to study with us and consequently be drawn to Jesus (John 6:44-45).
Living in spirit and in truth in a social media world can be daunting. It is fraught with danger. Social media is a difficult place to live and keep the proper attitude along with doing what is right. If Christians can understand that what happens on social media is real, if Christians can be aware of the main problem of social media, and if Christians will solve their problem, then they will have no difficulty living in spirit and truth in this social media world.
Tony is the gospel preacher for the Bay Church of Christ in Bay, AR. He is a 2015 graduate of the Memphis School of Preaching. He also does extensive social media evangelism and Bible teaching.