I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.
These words not only signify one of the most crucial moments in a courtroom scene but also find a primary place in the Christian life. Just as in a court case when witnesses take an oath to assure they will tell the truth, so we as Christians must realize the utmost importance of knowing the truth and telling the truth. This is especially the case when it comes to social media. In an era declaring fake news, we must follow the lead of our Lord and live out and share the truth on our Facebook timelines and our Twitter feeds.
Prior to the 2016 presidential race, I admit I was unaware of how severe the crisis of truth was within our churches. To be sure, the need to speak truth is nothing new, and I understood this need to teach truth in the face of false teaching. Yet, what I witnessed in 2016 was the markdown of truth’s value for those who profess to know the Truth. On social media, I began to see Christians defend positions, not because it was a matter of right and wrong, but because it was held by the right or left. I saw feeds filled with shared posts that were not concerned with the facts but with what fit their preconceived notions. Instead of prioritizing the Good News, I witnessed too many Christians’ profiles proclaiming fake news with skeptical statistics and questionable quotes. They gave no regard to the sources of what they shared. This trend has only continued in the years following.
As Christians, you and I must do better. We must check our sources and follow the example of the Bereans who “received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11). These believers examined the Scriptures to see even if the faithful teaching of the Apostle Paul lined up with the rest of Scripture. They were a people concerned with biblical truth, because they knew the Word of God spoke absolute truth (Ps 19:9; Prov 30:5). As followers of the Way, they knew to follow Jesus was to follow the very embodiment of truth (Jn 8:31-32; 14:6). For they and us, the ultimate source of truth is the Word of God and the truth we hold is in Jesus Christ.
This has specific application for us as Christians when it comes to our social media use. As believers, we have not been out called of this world in order to serve as a representative for our political party, tirelessly promoting its policies and defending its leaders at all costs. Instead, we are called to be representatives for Jesus Christ before a watching world, proclaiming his gospel and discerning truth from his Word. This call is laid out for us in 2 Corinthians 5:20: “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
In order to fulfill this call, we need to take note what it means to be an ambassador. The term ambassador describes someone sent by a country to act as its official representative in a foreign country, often with a specific task in mind. While it is ironically most often used in the political sphere, the Apostle Paul makes clear this is a higher call. Elsewhere he reminds us, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil 3:20). Our role as ambassadors for Christ is not merely about our earthly citizenship but our heavenly one. The purpose for posting on Facebook and tweeting out on Twitter should not be to pass along our political party’s agenda. Our task is to pass along and point others to the truth of Jesus Christ. As his representatives, this is our high calling.
Heeding this call ought to reorient our approach to social media. We are witnesses for Christ before a watching world, and many on social media are watching. As we log into our social media accounts, we should be asking ourselves the question, “How can I be a representative for Jesus Christ on social media today?” Before we share that quote or comment on that news headline, we should be questioning, “How does this impact my witness for Jesus Christ?” “Is this Scriptural?” And even when we engage in disagreements on Facebook, we ought to be pondering, “Am I more concerned with winning the argument or being charitable?”
Brothers and sisters, the credibility of our witness is at stake with what we share on social media. May we pay careful attention to the sources of what we share, consider what is worthy of sharing, and point people to the source of truth in Jesus Christ.