In a 1998 film, characters Kathleen Kelly and Joe Fox anxiously watched their computer screens for the words You’ve Got Mail, which also happened to be the title of the movie. In the 90’s these words were exciting. Email was a new way to communicate and people were not inundated with overloaded inboxes.
Fast forward to 2018, and most people grudgingly check their emails and groan at the number of messages! Once an exciting and convenient way to communicate is now another item on our “to do” list, which creates more work and stress.
Email and other electronic communications have many advantages. We can receive a document immediately and share information with a large group of people instantly. We can even see pictures of someone’s vacation in present time – no more waiting on postcards that often arrived after the travelers had returned!
However, despite all the benefits, there are downsides too. Our quick fingers make it easy to say the wrong thing.
We effortlessly hit “reply” on an email, “send” for a text, and “comment” on Facebook and then think that is not what I meant to say or those words didn’t come out right – at least I do. Then when I try to fix it, I only make it worse. Oh, and don’t forget how many people have gotten into trouble with Twitter – even ruined their careers!
But to be fair, careless talk didn’t start with social media. The Bible talks a lot about our tongue. Solomon never dreamed of social media, but his wisdom transcends his own culture and time. Warning us in Proverbs he states, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise” (10:19 NKJV). I love the way the NLT version states this proverb. “Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.” Let’s face it, all these newfangled methods of communication encourage us to talk more and listen less.
Matthew 12:36 says,
“And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak” (NLT).
I don’t know about you, but this Scripture scares me to death. This is Jesus talking ladies!
So, would Jesus use social media?
Let’s take a look at Jesus’ communication style. Of course, Jesus didn’t speak idle words, but I also noticed that when teaching His words were few and He often kept quiet when making a point.
When John the Baptist argued that he was not “good” enough to baptize Jesus, our Savior didn’t argue with him or explain why John was worthy, He simply stated, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires” (Matthew 3:15). Jesus gets right to the point, demanding obedience to God.
When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the desert, He didn’t speak a lot, but when He did talk, He used Scripture to make His point. Satan can’t stand against the Word of God. (Matthew 4)
When he chose His disciples to follow He didn’t coax, explain, or force them. When He called Peter and Andrew, He succinctly called out, “Come follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people” (Matthew 4:19b). That’s it, and they came. Most likely, these men knew about Jesus’ life, example, and reputation. Jesus didn’t need a lot of words.
Remember when the Pharisees brought the woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesus? The Jewish leaders pointed to the Law of Moses asking Jesus to condemn her to death by stoning. (As a side note, these men were not following the Law of Moses because it required both the man and woman be brought forward along with witnesses. See Leviticus 20:10, Duet. 19:15 and 22:22)
Our Savior said very little in this exchange with the Pharisees; instead, He quietly kneeled down and wrote in the sand. It was kind of a New Testament Facebook. We don’t know what He wrote, (perhaps her crime because that was a standard thing to do when a person was accused) but the men continued to clamor for the verdict. Then Jesus said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone” (John 8:7b NLT)! When Jesus started writing again, they all walked away. A few words must have gotten right to the heart of the matter, making the men aware of their own sin, and possibly their distortion of the law.
When the woman stood alone, Jesus didn’t go into a lengthy sermon about her sin or provide a psychological profile about why she was a sinner. He simply forgave her and said, “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11b). His actions and example were enough.
Parables are another example of Jesus’ short but powerful teachings. These intriguing stories taught lessons about almost every important aspect of our faith, including love, repentance, forgiveness, salvation, money, and service to name a just a few.
As we can see from the above examples, Jesus used different modes of communication to reach people, so the question remains: Would Jesus use social media?
I think the answer is yes. There is nothing inherently sinful in these types of communication, and Jesus is creative and desires to reach the world. This is good because I do recognize the irony of this post. After all, blogs are an electronic communication and many of you reading this received my notification by email.
However, Jesus must grieve over our misuse of these modes of communication. Let’s face it our “talk” is prolific, but not always meaningful, or as the above proverb says, sensible and wise.
Just because we cannot see our audience doesn’t make it any less subject to biblical principals. In fact,
run rampant on social media, and all these communication styles can easily lead us into sin.
Let us end by reflecting on a prayer of David’s found in Psalm 19:14:
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
More irony, but I have to say it:
As always, comments are welcome!