Romans 12 and Social Media
Far too often, I find myself a slave to my phone. Shoulders hunched, thumbs scrolling, brow furrowing, I’m the picture of that classic detached human who has traded those in the room for those behind a profile picture.
Twitter is my drug of choice. It is the proverbial train wreck that I can’t look away from. I’m careful not to wade into the toxic comments soup of Twitter; those arguments that you can never win and the posturing that you can never quite wash off. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not guilty of sitting on the shoreline, grunting as I watch people scoop up muck and sling it into the faces of their adversaries. I shake my head – bewildered that people can speak to other image-bearers of God like that – and then continue scrolling to see what they’ll say next.
As of today, we are four weeks away from the grossest election of our lifetime. Many of us are disgusted with the choices before us and the behavior of both parties. But I believe the muck-raking debate last week wasn’t an assault against us…it was a reflection of us.
A few weeks ago I reading Romans 12, and it was as though the Apostle Paul had jumped ahead 2,000 years to write that chapter directly to me in 2020. Here’s how it landed for me. Your mileage may vary.
…present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Can I view every act of my day as an act of worship? Is it even possible for me to scroll social media for the glory of God?
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…
Have I allowed myself – as Ed Stetzer famously says – to be discipled by my cable news channel and formed by my social media feed? Have I handed the reins of my mind to good (or bad), well-intentioned (or not) people, or am I letting my mind be molded by scripture?
…by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think…
Do I set myself apart in prideful posturing, believing that my views are smarter, better, wiser? And even if I don’t participate in mudslinging, do I scoff at the scoffers who do? Does thinking it still equal saying it?
…in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Do I see everyone on social media as a person for whom Jesus died? Do I appropriately grieve when I see two Christ followers square off and scream at each other? Do I stop to understand that we are chopping off our arms and our legs and not even realizing it?
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…
Does my time on social media rob me of time that could be given to better pursuits? Have I allowed atrophy to creep into the gifts given to me because I’m not actually using them?
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
“Evil” can include slander. Malicious speech. Gossip. Half-truths and spun-truths. Can I really say I abhor that, or am I allowing that?
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
This is the $100,000 question of our age. We compete and throw elbows and throw punches at every opportunity, but are we competing in the area we’ve been commanded? Namely, are we showing honor to others…even those who don’t show honor to us?
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Can I set aside my situation and my worldview and my cherished principles for a moment, and see the other side? Can I recognize that injustice happens, even if it’s not currently happening to me?
Live in harmony with one another…Never be wise in your own sight.
Do I recognize that I don’t have 100% of the answers 100% of the time? And neither do those on my side of the political aisle, nor those in my tribe, nor those in my friends list? Do I believe that people I may disagree with may actually possess wisdom in certain areas?
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all…If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Have I done every single thing possible to seek common ground? Can I say that “so far as it depends on me” I’ve sought peace? Or have I simply stoked the fires of hostility?
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Are there people on social media that I have labeled – both on purpose and inadvertently – as my enemy? Are there people who view me as such? And what kind of a job am I doing at serving them?
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
In my desire to overcome evil with good, have I accidentally embodied the thing I wish to vanquish?