The Friday feature of the Worldly Saints blog is a reflection on a recent event or topic and a new feature of this blog for Fridays. The topic could be something taken from the news cycle, popular trend in culture (e.g., movies, music, etc.), a debate on social media, or the like.
Two weeks ago, I posted a blog entitled “5 Things I Don’t Like About Facebook.” In that post, I referred (not exhaustively) to a list I created of concerns about those who use Facebook and some of the damaging effects that Facebook can have on our society or our individual lives.
Today, as Yoda might say, we “bring balance to the force.” I want to share with you some benefits of using or being on Facebook. And I want to reiterate something I said in that previous post: I believe the advantages or positives for Facebook are stronger than the negatives. Thus, I would encourage you to promote Facebook and use it if you currently don’t. Here is just four reasons why.
#1 – Facebook makes our world smaller. Our earth (at last estimate) contains 7.13 billion people. Just a few decades ago, many of those people were completely inaccessible to all of us. Unless you had the ability to travel non-stop around the world, you would never meet anyone from other countries or people groups. Not so today! In a matter of seconds or clicks on a mouse, I can start engaging in conversation with anyone from any country around the world (assuming they “friend” me as well). If I have a friend who lives in China (and I do), I can learn about their culture, hear their stories of persecution, look at their photos of traveling to Russia, etc. If I have a friend who lives in Israel (and I do), I can enjoy hearing their perspective about tensions in the Middle East. If I have a friend who lives in Honduras (and I do), I can learn about the brand of Catholicism that is swallowing up South and Central America in a “real time” manner. You see, Facebook allows us to take a step into the door of just about anywhere on this planet. It allows us to touch, taste and smell so many places we couldn’t when I was growing up. Because it is the most popular form of social media, it trumps all other online venues for such exploration. I don’t think of someone who lives in India as that far away. I can spend every day watching them take photos of their kids in school, shopping, worshipping in church and imagine as if I was there with them.
#2 – Facebook gives us a platform to magnify our gratitude and praise to God. The word “magnify” means “to make something appear larger than it is.” It means you take something and expand it so that is viewable in a way it wasn’t previously. Because Facebook allows us to communicate with so many other people on a regular basis, anything we post on our “wall” is going to be read, scrutinized, and thought about by more people than we would have otherwise. Your rejoicing in God’s workings will be seen and heard by “friends” who look at your “wall” and countless people who see your “friends share” on their own walls. Ezekiel 38:23 reads, “So I will show my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in the eyes of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord.” Certainly, one of the ways God can make himself known is by broadcasting His name through our “wall” on Facebook! This is one of the applications that makes me carefully consider what I post on Facebook. I don’t want people to read and see my complaints, gripes, whines, slander, gossip, etc. I want people to be edified and encouraged when they see what has been posted. I want my postings to be an invitation to join me in magnifying our great God.
#3 – Facebook enlarges our mission field or sphere of influence. Making disciples of all nations (Matt 28:16-20) has taken a step into social media. While I would not commend Facebook to be your only mission field or even your primary mission field, it is still a mission field of sorts. Of the 600 friends I have on Facebook, I would not be surprised if half of them aren’t Christians. Some of them don’t profess to know the Lord and others are simply deceived about their own salvation. Thus, I have an opportunity to share the Gospel with hundreds of people every day. I can and should talk to my neighbors about the Lord. I can and should talk to my family members about the Lord. I can and should talk to any co-workers about the Lord. And I can and should point my Facebook “friends” to the Gospel as well. How we use Facebook is part of how we represent Jesus as His ambassadors (II Cor 5:20).
#4 – Facebook allows me to learn about people (e.g., church members, family, neighbors, etc.). Again, I don’t believe this is the best way to get to know someone, but there are many things you can find out about someone that you previously didn’t know. For people in my church, I can learn how they think, what inspires them, what troubles them, what gets them excited, who they like to spend time with, what they are reading, etc. With anyone who doesn’t know Christ that is a Facebook “friend,” I can learn about their objections to Christianity. Facebook is like reading a synopsis of a book: it doesn’t give you all the details of who a person is but it allows you to get a flavor of their life and that is highly valuable.
I will conclude this post the same way I did two weeks ago.
Is Facebook a tool or a hindrance to your walk with the Lord? Is Facebook distracting you from deepening your communion with God and His people? Are you using Facebook to build up and edify those who follow you or are you known for being a whiner or complainer with your Facebook wall?