Messing up the Message

Social networking has hit our culture in remarkable and pervasive ways. Millions of people across the globe are active members of one site or another. From Facebook to Twitter people are using the sites for a huge and varied number of applications. This blog post, when I publish it, will be posted immediately to my facebook and twitter feeds allowing people to read my entire blog at the click of a button. No doubt social networking has done a number of interesting things to society. My motivation for this entry however is how Christians aren’t quite getting it.

For evangelical Christians such as myself it has always been pretty hip to show how hardcore you are for Jesus. Jesus freaks if you will. Whatever this may have meant in the past, for most Christians today this entails how loudly you can blare online how down you are with Jesus. We advertise how much we have been praying, or how great the latest Christian conference we have been to was. We post Bible verses by themselves. We post “Halleujah, Jesus reigns!!!!!!!!” We state how great our prayer and devotion time this morning was. None of these posts are bad in themselves. But lacking relational context with the people viewing them they only serve to widen the divide between people who know Jesus and those who don’t. Put more simply, regardless of their intention, posts like this do little more than reaffirm an “us vs. them” mentality that pushes non-Christians away from faith in Jesus, not towards. We tell ourselves (and are taught growing up) that its totally cool if people think you are weird and crazy and perhaps even bad because you are living for Jesus, not for people.  The problem with all this is not the acts themselves but the way people perceive them.

I’m a Christian. I love God and Jesus and going to Church. I really do think knowing Jesus is the best way to live. However I do not think expressing this with exclamation points in phrase form will result in ANYONE from America coming to these realizations. However that is what Christians do EVERYDAY!

50 years ago a well-placed Bible verse might really convict the random passer-by of a church. Today in a post-Christian, post-modern culture most people, especially young ones, will see something related to God online and simply say, “I’m glad I’m not one of the crazies.”  This has also been my experience. Most of my young adult life I have spent trying to figure how that yes “I’m crazy for Jesus but I’m not crazy.” It is HARD. And most people will stereotype you regardless, unless of course you get to know them well. Most Christians know that to effectively evangelize you generally need to build a relationship with a person. But how often do we actually practice it in America?

Christianity and church is not a social club. The point of going to church is not to thank God that you’re not a sinner like the Pharisees. It is to be overwhelmingly grateful that you are saved by the God of the universe and that you have the privilege and purpose to tell others about Jesus when you have the opportunity. Out of context Facebook posts declaring how much you love tithing isn’t going to cut it. We need to not just be radical in the fervency of our Facebook postings but in living them out with love toward and for his creation and humanity. We need to invest in relationships so that when people do find out we are Christians they are not put off but that they desire to know more.

I freely admit I have generalized a bit in this post. I welcome thoughts and comments covering any blind spots I may have missed. But my overall point is to start a conversation we need to be having about how we relate to the rest of our culture as opposed to merely demonizing it. This isn’t about pandering to sin but about effectively portraying Christ in our world for HIS glory, not our own.


One thought on “Messing up the Message

  1. I completely agree! (And that doesn’t happen too often!) I think a non-Christian person could read a million facebook status updates about how good God is, and it would have a fraction of the impact a simple “how are you?” could have. I will admit I sometimes want to slap people – I know you can talk about it, I want to see someone LIVING it.

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