You have no doubt seen it if you are on the Internet and use social media to any degree: a post shared by a well-intentioned person asking you to “share” or “like” a Jesus post to demonstrate your faith in Him. Rarely do these posts stop there; more often than not they go on to suggest that if you ignore the post, you do not really love Jesus, or perhaps even favor Satan! Some such posts feature pictures; other such posts feature some kind of written explanation of what a person believes about Jesus. What shall we say and do regarding these things?
Such posts normally come from sincere people with good intentions. They believe in Jesus and feel as if they have taken the lesson of Romans 1:16 to heart. They do not want to be ashamed of the Gospel; they want to find some way to share their faith. Yet it is easy to be troubled by such messages, especially those which suggest either that God will specifically bless or commend those who share them or those which attempt to shame and manipulate people into sharing the post lest they somehow deny Christ or actually show they are aligned with the Evil One.
Do not be deceived: our faithfulness to God is not measured by our willingness, or lack thereof, to share a post about Jesus on social media. Ignoring and/or not sharing such a post in no way demonstrates that we do not love Jesus or that we are on Satan’s side. We are not given the right to presume to ascertain one’s standing or faithfulness to God by such a contrived litmus test as these (Romans 14:12, James 4:11-12). Love does not coerce or compel, nor does it think evil of others (1 Corinthians 13:4-8); thus, to suggest that a person who does not share a post does not love Jesus or is on Satan’s side is not consistent with love, is not manifesting the love of God toward his or her fellow people, and is attempting to advance the Lord’s purposes according to the world’s wisdom, and that never goes well for God’s people (James 3:13-18). On principle the Lord’s people should not disseminate any message which would attempt to shame or coerce others into distributing it lest they be seen as less than Christian; our messages should reflect our Lord and Savior, not merely in substance, but also in delivery (2 Timothy 2:24-26, 1 Peter 3:14-15).
We do well to explore this phenomenon a bit more deeply: what is the purpose of such posts? What is the desired outcome? Most people who would share such posts do so out of a well-intentioned desire to “share Jesus.” We should commend such an impulse; we should all desire to share the good news about Jesus the Lord and Savior (Matthew 28:18-20, Romans 1:16). Perhaps there are times when a person would share such a post, and an unbeliever sees it, and then feels comfortable reaching out to the one who shared it to learn more about Jesus, and from that encounter such a one comes to a knowledge of the truth and is saved. If that has ever happened, then God be praised! Yet notice that even in such a circumstance the post only proves to be a catalyst to further discussion; the one who shared the post must already have gained the trust of the interested person so that the latter proved willing to ask for more information, and the one sharing the post also must further communicate who Jesus is and what that means for us today.
Thus, even at best, such a post is only a conversation starter. We cannot imagine that we can just share a post telling our social media friends that we like Jesus and believe that we have thus fulfilled the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); all we have done is shown our friends that we “like Jesus,” and have yet to tell them who Jesus is or what we must do to be saved. We cannot imagine that we can just share a post and thus demonstrate to Jesus that we like Him and expect all to be well with us; sadly, many people whose lives show very little of Jesus will still prove willing to share a post saying they “like” Jesus, and people of this sort give the people around us reason to blaspheme. Sharing a post about Jesus does not at all show a person who Jesus is or how following Jesus in life is manifest; only by living the faith and actually following Jesus can we point the way for others (1 John 2:3-6). We should not be surprised if those in the world think that sharing a post is just signaling a tribal affiliation if our lives do not at all reflect the love of God in Christ which we presume to share in such a post.
As Christians we are called upon to share the Lord Jesus with everyone (Matthew 28:18-20, Romans 1:16). We should not be deceived into thinking that such is primarily done on social media. Christianity is not a badge or a tribal identity marker which we can flash to others to show allegiance or gain benefits. Christianity must be the life of following in the path of Jesus of Nazareth, ever growing in knowledge and faith, better manifesting the fruit of the Spirit and refusing the works of the flesh (John 14:6, Galatians 5:17-24, 2 Peter 3:18). In this life we share Jesus by loving people as Jesus did, giving of ourselves as Jesus did, living as Jesus did (John 13:35, Philippians 2:5-11); if we do such things we will not have to share a post on social media for people to know that we are Christians, for they will know by our words and our deeds that we serve the risen Lord. May we share Jesus with others in word and deed to the glory of God in Christ!
Ethan R. Longhenry