What did Peter have in mind when he talked about Christians "shining like stars in the sky" as they "hold firmly to the word of life"? Probably not social media during a pandemic lockdown, but that's where many of us find ourselves.
I've been so impressed at how Christian friends are using social media to share their Christian faith with friends. I looked back at my post for Easter Sunday, and really, it seemed a bit awkward. I said something like: "I'll be watching this livestream of church, you could watch it too." Meanwhile, friends were talking about the difference Jesus makes to their life in Covid-19 Lockdown and the blessing he brings. Others are writing poems to share why they are a Christian. Post after post of hope in Christ.
If, like me, you sometimes struggle to speak clearly about Jesus online, you can take heart in the context in which Peter writes his encouragement to 'shine like stars':
"Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, 'children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.' Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky."
By avoiding grumbling and arguing (who isn't being tempted to complain at the moment?), we have an opportunity to bring Jesus into every like, every comment and every share. Here are a couple of things to think about on social media:
What are we liking and sharing?
"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."
Maybe today, Paul would be writing, 'like such things' and 'share such things' as well. Are the things we draw friends to online worthy of their time and attention? "Is it funny?" shouldn't be the only factor determining what we like and share. Is it true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy? Not everything needs to be oozing loveliness - God has given people creative gifts that cause us to wonder and appreciate without being sentimental. But let's not only avoid impurity. What are the videos and posts we could like and share that would point people towards the One who is wholly true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy?
Positive and upbuilding comments
"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."
Perhaps Paul would be writing today: "Do not let any unwholesome words come out of your thumbs" (or forefinger for the older among us (I speak mostly for myself there)). Do our comments constantly find fault or find the good in situations (yes, even Covid-19 Lockdown) and in people (yes, even politicians)?
Let's use this time online to develop the spiritual fruit of kindness and to grow the spiritual gift of encouragement. Let's "live such good lives" online during the Covid-19 Lockdown that people "may see our good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us." (1 Peter 2.12).
What if Christians were always known as being positive people to be around online?
Dave Thornton is author of 'Raising the Bar: Nearly everything you need to know about Christian youth ministry'. Find out more here.