That is the number of people in this world that are on social media.
For the next few minutes I would like to look at what 2.3 billion people are on because social media has changed the way in which we communicate and tell our story.
I know it may come as a shock to you, but I love social media.
I love social media. My goodness I love it so much I spent money to go to school and study it for three years. I am a bit surprised I have not started shouting LIKE when something good happens, or speaking in only 140 character phrases ending with a #hashtag of course.
I love all the possibilities of social media because they get a message out farther and faster than any other time before in history.
I love that I have the opportunity to make an impact in the lives of those I am connected with.
I love that I can connect with someone across the world instantaneously.
Social Media has made our world much smaller.
I love the incredibly amazing and fun side of social media. We have seen the Ice Bucket Challenge which raised a lot of money for ALS research, images of Boston Strong after the bombings – people uniting and lending aid to those who needed it; people sharing inspiring stories, people using the fun and silly snapchat filters to bring smiles and laughs; then just recently post and after post of the Chewbacca Mom giggling with joy.
I believe that at its core Social Media is a very good and beautiful thing – and indeed a bit entertaining.
Social media was not invented by one single person, but rather was a collective effort of many people over the course of the last 20 years who all saw the same possibilities and had the same goals of what could be.
They all at some point along the way desired to connect people all over the world to each other – sharing stories, lives, ideas, inspiration and information.
However, as much as I love social media; there is also a side of social media that honestly makes me wish it was never invented.
It’s this side that has so distorted the original purpose of what could and should be, that often there seems to be more harm being done, than good.
It was this distortion that for a long time the church chose to have nothing to do with it – in fact countless churches still do not have a social media presence because of the cultural distortion
Social media was seen as taboo and evil. It was seen as something that undermined the sacredness of the faith and God.
I have heard comments like, “It’s of the devil and cannot lead to anything good – do you see what is being posted? Do you see what people are sharing? We cannot get into the mix of that – we are too holy to be mingling with the likes of those.”
Because of how the church saw culture interacting on social media we chose to stay away, rather than enter into the very place we should be going.
I get it. It is easy to get bogged down.
It’s easy to get lost in the unfiltered, unpredictable digital space of the social networking systems.
I am often heartbroken and enraged at what I see because of how negative and shattered our world still is. Then to make matters worse we are smack dab in the middle of political season – if I have ever wanted to his the pause button my social media activity it would be right now, Lord have mercy.
Let’s face it – people are mean and say not nice things – all the time. People will say things on social media that they would never in a million years say to someone face-to-face.
The chaos is so overwhelming.
Some of you might be saying – yes exactly. This is exactly why I don’t use social media – this is exactly why I don’t understand why people are even on the thing.
There are days when I just want to throw in the towel and say I’m done. I’m done with it all.
There is just one problem.
I cannot do that. Not because I am addicted – well maybe a little. I cannot just be done with social media because of something much larger.
You see there is something that has kept me here and no it’s not the cat videos or that amazing inflatable T-Rex that does some pretty funny stuff.
It is something much bigger than that.
That something is rather someone – Jesus.
Here is why.
Jesus says something to his disciples in Matthew 28 that echoes in my mind every single time I utter the words – I am done.
Matthew 28:16-19 other wise known as the Great Commission
“Then the eleven disciples (there were only eleven because this is post Judas’ betrayed Jesus) went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (which we have heard before at the last supper) Therefore go….
Now I want to stop here for a minute because – Jesus says to his disciples – and us – Go.
Not therefore you can chill out now and relax since I’m leaving soon.
He said go.
The word go here, in Greek is Poreuo – and means to carry over – to continue on – to move forward in the journey.
Go requires action. Go requires movement. Go require intentional steps forward.
Jesus tells his disciples look – I’m leaving, it is now your task to carry on what I have taught you. I am giving to you the responsibility of moving this message forward in the journey.
Jesus was known for going to where the people were – he went to the multitudes, the masses.
Jesus connected to people where they were – in the synagogues, in the marketplaces, out among the crowds. Today – in our world the crowds, the multitudes are on social media – they are filling the news feeds with information, stories, pictures, joys and sorrows.
Jesus has said – it’s your turn to Go to them. It’s your turn to connect with them, where they are.
Go on ahead with your bad selves and carry on what has been started.
“Therefore Go – and make disciples of ALL nations of ALL nations….”
ALL…Nations not just a select few.
Not just the ones we choose. Not just those who look like us, talk like us, sound like us, smell like us, hang out in the same place as us. Not just those that are already Jesus-fied – but go into ALL NATIONS – those in the faith and in far reaches of culture – all nations in both the physical and digital world.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Maybe when the disciples heard this command from Jesus they remembered another command, one in which came early on in Jesus’ teaching.
Matthew 5: 14-15
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
It is also important to remember that as we go making disciples in all nations we are called to be a light before others – we are called to go into the world.
We are called to go into all the physical and digital places in life and let others see what God is doing.
We cannot ignore social media as much as we would want to because Jesus has given us 2 billion reasons to stay and shine a light into the dark places of our culture. We need to recognize that the world is online (a lot), and hungry for connection, and anything other than the brokenness they see and feel.
It is my desire and my hope that we go to the people and be accessible wherever they are and tell them about this incredible God we have. It is my hope that we pass on the message of what God is uniquely doing in our own lives.
My question to you is, would you join me?
Would you join me in going digital with your faith – in whatever way this looks like for you?
Would you take those moments in your life to GO and be the light the world so desperately needs to see.
Call me crazy but I truly believe that one post, one tweet, one photo or even one snap story has the power to change someone’s life and move them closer to Jesus than they ever have been before. I believe this not because of anything I am going necessarily do – but because I know when I am faithful to what God has called me to – he makes things happen and if God can raise the dead to life, he can surely use a tweet make a difference. Never underestimate what God can do through you.
To close this conversation I have two simple ways that you can start to make an impact on Social Media.
First: Understand Your Influence
it is important we understand that our influence and our impact is greater than we realize – for better and for worse.
Now I think this could be said for everyone – online or offline. We have a tendency to downplay our influence and impact, but it is greater than we want to acknowledge.
Therefore the quicker we can grasp this the better off we will be.
Let’s think about this – We can actually in 140 characters say some incredibly brilliant things. It’s been done time and time again. I follow a guy name Van Baird on twitter. He has the ability to take 140 characters and say some amazing things – and he’s pretty savvy with GIF’s. He finds a way to pour out and into the lives of others.
On the other hand…
We also have the power to do some really dumb stuff and say some really mean and hurtful things.
In fact people have been so amazingly not so smart that they have lost jobs really good ones because of something they tweeted or posted online.
In fact this girl lost her job before she even started – her tweet stated: Cisco just offered me a job! I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.
She was fired later that day.
She is not the only one. There have been many many people who have made the mistake of putting something on social media that would quickly land them on the unemployment list.
How does this happen? Because we do not fully recognize the influence and power we have at our finger tips.
Our influence and impact is much greater than we realize. Be careful little fingers what you post and tweet.
We have the choice. Every – Single – Day to use this amazing gift of social media to make a difference in this world.
Second: Be Intentional.
Because we have the ability to make a difference every day it is important that we are intentional about what you post, about what you tweet, about what you like and what you share.
More often than not we are very unintentional with what we communicate. This is why lives can be ruined by what is said on social media. This is why simply liking or sharing something in passing can be very detrimental.
Be intentional and wise.
Social Media is a gift and we must use it wisely and we need to leverage it more for the Kingdom than anything else – why? Because, at least for those of us who follow Jesus, we have been sent into this world with a mandate – a world-wide mandate to GO and make Disciples and be a light in the darkness.
When we are intentional we think of every post, tweet, photo or snap as an opportunity to connect with someone else near and far. We think of the many opportunities to inform and add value – we think of the opportunity to be helpful and do some good – we see it as an opportunity to share with others what God is doing in our life. We think of it as our opportunity to point someone to Jesus.
Now I know this sounds a little far fetched.
You might think I’m crazy – maybe I am – but imagine what would happen if we truly lived into this. Imagine what our news feeds and time lines would look like if everyone was a little more intentional with what they communicated.
I know you might be thinking I don’t know if I can do that – which is a perfectly valid statement.
Hear this – I’m not asking you to post bible quotes every hour of the day, or pictures of Buddy Jesus and you at Starbucks.
I’m not asking you to post those “share if you love Jesus…or retweet this or you are doomed for the rest of your life.”
I’m not asking you to stop connecting, sharing fun videos and pictures of friends, family and things that brighten the day.
I’m not asking you to be a billboard of Jesus stuff.
What I am asking of you is be mindful when you enter the digital world
What I am asking of you is that be intentional every time you log on to the world wide web.
If you’re on twitter – You have 140 characters.
How can you tell your story in 140 characters, or my personal favorite GIF’s, of what God is doing in your life – in your neighborhood – in your family – with your small group or friends?
If you are on Instagram and or SnapChat how can you share what God is up to in your life through images – how can you tell a story that means something? How can you help your friends experience worship, rather than a video of something being done that is questionable and well just not smart – like using a flambeau torch on lucky charm marshmallows…guilty.
I follow a guy on Instagram and he is a photographer. He used to photo his food – then one day had a revelation or conviction to capture more of life than food. He began taking pictures of everything. He began trying to find God in the everyday. When he posts a picture he includes a small devotional that will go along with the picture. It is pretty awesome stuff. You can check him at Bible in photos on IG.
But he embodies someone who is very intentional with what is communicated online.
If you use Facebook – How can you allow people to see what is unique to you, your family and your life – what makes you smile and laugh? How can you prompt people on this platform – to what God is uniquely doing here – in this place. How can you be a light on Facebook?
This doesn’t mean putting on a social media mask and making it appear as if you have the perfect happy life. Be you. It’s the best part of you.
You don’t have to stop sharing those funny videos, those recipes, those bits of daily entertainment. Continue to do that, but be wise – be a light – understand what you are saying and sharing – and pause for a moment and ask yourself, “am I really communicating what I want to communicate with this?” Will this do any good, or create more problems?
You don’t have to stop using social media to pass the time? It’s ok to pass the time on social media, but pass the time intentionally – there are a lot of rabbit trails that lead to nowhere good – so be intentional and look for ways to communicate in a positive manner.
The world is desperate for that voice pointing them to something much greater than what they experience in the world.
We have the answer.
We have an opportunity to be the only light, the only Jesus some people we are connected with will ever see.
Here is my hope. For those of you on social media my hope is that you would join me to reach out those you are connected with – My hope is that you find something every single week – or more – to say or share that falls into those three buckets and adds value, lifts someone up, and provides a glimpse to what God is doing in your life.
Jesus says to us: Therefore, Go and make disciples of all nations and be the Light that shines brighter than anything else. Amen.