Ephesians and Social Media
by Matt Batten, Director of Communication, Diocese of Llandaff.
While reading in church, it struck Matt that the only social media guidance Christians need can be found in Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians (4.25 - 5.2). Here, he shares three lessons that can shape our online presence.
Social media is often presented as a platform that fuels hate and spreads fake news. Yet there is so much good that comes from social media. It provides an invaluable way to connect with friends and family across the world - helping combat loneliness and isolation.
Churches during the pandemic have hugely benefited from social media platforms, with Facebook or YouTube providing the means of maintaining a gathered worshipping community. Given our growing presence online, it is important that Christians - as disciples of Christ - model a loving and enriching experience on social media.
In Ephesians 4.25 - 5.2, Paul sets out the key beliefs of Christianity and the behaviours and attitudes required to live out the Christian faith. For me, this is a blueprint for good social media conduct.
1, “Let all of us speak the truth to our neighbours” (4.25)
The internet has weakened traditional media’s position as a trusted source of information. Now anyone can claim to be an influencer and share inaccurate and ill-informed opinions online. This is how fake news spreads and distrust in official sources takes hold.
Paul tells us to put aside falsehood and speak truthfully to our neighbours. It is imperative that we role model this behaviour and check facts before we share information with our followers.
2, “Give grace to those who hear” (4.29)
The current climate of distrust and cynicism causes uncertainty and anger - conditions that allow hatred and prejudices to thrive. Perhaps the most important lesson we can learn today was written nearly two thousand years ago, “Let no evil come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up.” (4.29).
Always role model Christ in your online interactions and treat others with compassion. If we ourselves are a target of hate online then of course we must challenge this. Report bullying to social media providers or the police, report fake news and block or mute those whose opinions may be harmful. But in every interaction “...be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving to one another…” (4.32).
Excellent advice from Paul.
3, “Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger...” (4.31)
There’s plenty to get angry about online…. Politics, racism, Line of Duty spoilers. But is it worth it? The world does not need another keyboard warrior. The world needs more kindness and compassion.
Step away from the screen if you’ve read something that angers you. Would you argue with someone face to face in a public space with other people looking on or shouting their opinions at you? I hope not. See Christ in the person behind the screen. Love is far more powerful than hate.
Paul also says, “be angry but do not sin… do not make room for the devil” (4.26-27). There are injustices in the world that need challenging but arguing online with strangers certainly won’t solve them. Try lobbying the government instead.
In Ephesians, Paul calls us to be imitators of Christ - “living in love as God loved us.” (5.1-2). This is what it takes to be a disciple of Christ. We are created in the likeness of God who asks nothing of us but to live a righteous life.
Let our online presence be full of God’s love.
What other social media lessons can we take from the Bible? Tweet us at @premierdigi and use the hashtag #WWPS
Follow Matt on Twitter @CommsGuyMatt