Chris Turner is director of communications for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
FRANKLIN, Tenn. (BP) — The growth of a person’s character and Gospel witness is like that of an oak. You really don’t see a lot of movement from one year to the next, but over time you see a sapling mature into a majestic tree.
And like a majestic oak reduced to ashes by a sweeping wildfire, a person’s character and Gospel witness can go up in flames with the click of a Facebook post.
I manage the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board’s Facebook account, monitor our many ministry pages and post to my personal social media accounts, so I spend a lot of time on social media platforms, often more time than I’d like. I sometimes shake my head at what I read. Last week I had my first jaw-dropper.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden had just announced Kamala Harris as his running mate, and I saw the announcement in a news link on someone’s Facebook page. Immediately below the link I read — hands down — the crudest, most offensive comment directed at Harris. It was lewd, disgusting and birthed in ignorance. I clicked on the person’s name for more information to find he claims to follow Christ and is also a minister. I was so shocked that I asked my wife to read it and tell me if I misunderstood the statement. Her expression answered my question.
Over the past five months I’ve seen three topics in which Christians are torching their Gospel witness at the speed of a click: politics, race relations and the COVID-19 pandemic. A spontaneous and unscientific survey of my Facebook newsfeed just now revealed that 17 of the 30 most-recent posts made over the past 38 minutes fall into one of these three categories. A few are head-shakers; fortunately, no jaw-droppers.
The invasion of social media into our culture began roughly 15 years ago and, in many ways, has offered some positive benefits. For instance, it is a way for missionary families to easily stay connected with those who support them. Also, we’ve seen Facebook become the largest global electronic platform for proclaiming the Gospel as thousands of churches have migrated to Facebook Live during the pandemic.
But the dark side of social media platforms is that they offer people an opportunity to blast their unfiltered opinions into the marketplace, often with the destructive force of a wrecking ball. Opinions are both heating up and intensifying their bite as we move toward the 2020 presidential election. Some posts are just downright vitriolic.
Here are a few thoughts to help you manage yourself and maintain your Gospel witness.
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Source: Baptist Press