Chances are, when you read those words, a thought popped into your mind. Was it a good thought? Was it a frustrated thought?
I was asked to write a bit about how social media can be a tool of the enemy, or a tool used for God's glory.
I am not a professional writer, and I do not have a degree in social media. I do have my own experience and the experiences that others so graciously shared with me. I will attempt to help you understand if you might be using Facebook, or the like, to foster sin, or to bring glory to the LORD.
Our family is in a unique situation. We are currently living in Germany and have been here for going on eight months. Back in Texas we were very involved in The Village Church and most of our family members lived in the same area that we did. Now, we are missionaries living on 100% support from family and friends back home. That said, social media has been a huge blessing to our family. It has kept us in almost daily contact with family, supporters, and friends in Texas as well as all over the world.
The LORD has entrusted the gift of encouragement to me. I love this gift and really want to treat it well. I feel revived and joy-filled when I am allowing the Spirit to encourage others through me. I will admit that before we moved, I really wondered how I would be able to continue using this gift while being so far away from those who actually know me and have done life with me for many years. I will also admit that before we left I believed lies from the enemy that my time for encouragement was over and that gift was being taken away from me... along with all the other "material" possessions I had. You know, when you are moving to a new country, particularly for Kingdom work, the enemy will try everything he can to get you down. To steal your joy and replace it with discouragement.
Thankfully, I have been trained in recognizing the voice of the enemy versus the voice of the LORD. I don't always "get it right". But since being trained, the Lord has been gracious to allow me to continue growing in this area. Part of the fruit of the growth is a fierce response to the enemy's lies. What does that mean? It means when the thought-caster (that is satan) sends something my way for the purpose of stealing, killing, or destroying something in me, I must and will take action.
This is what I did with social media, specifically Facebook.
I do not believe the Lord had plans to take the gift of encouragement from me when He called us to Berlin. No. In fact, I believe His plans were to grow this gift in me and I am so thankful for the opportunities He has given.
One of the things I love about Facebook is that it is a place for me to daily keep in touch with people I ALREADY had a relationship/friendship with. One of the ways that I am made in God's image is that I am relational. I love people. This was also one of the things I feared when we planned to move here. I was afraid that I would be alone and I couldn't grasp not having my friends here. I couldn't think of not being in daily/weekly contact with family members. In His grace and provision, I have dear friends here and I am able to have real conversations with friends and family members through social media. These are not "fake" relationships, but relationships that were deep before we left, and ones that are full of intention and commitment.
Another way that Facebook has been a blessing is meeting people I didn't know. Before our class began training in Kona, classmates from all over the world introduced themselves in a private group on Facebook. We were able to pray for each other and encourage each other in a scary and unknown time before we had actually met in person. All of us were leaving our homes, family, friends, careers, and more in search of that "something more" that God might have for us. We had a lot in common and were able to empathize with each other before we met. There have been countless times here in Berlin when I have "met" someone on Facebook before actually having the pleasure of meeting them face to face. And I think that is key here;
My goal was, and never has been, to hide behind a screen.
It is a tool that can be used for Kingdom purposes and...I believe that any tool that can be used in this way threatens the enemy. He will try whatever he can to steal, kill, and destroy...
I recently asked via Facebook for some experiences or stories of ways that FB has been used as a tool by the enemy.
Sadly, I heard some devastating stories. I heard of marriages ending. Of friendships being destroyed. Anger and resentment taking over homes. Bitterness and jealousy sweeping through friendships. Disdain for family members and friends.
I heard friends confess that they "purposefully do not 'like'" a post made by someone who is "bothering" them. Others confessed that they "roll their eyes" when they see a post by a certain friend. I heard of friends posting things will the full intent of being passive aggressive toward someone else.
It is a common thing to "take a break" from Facebook when you feel that it is overtaking your mind in a negative way.
"I hate facebook."
"Facebook ends marriages."
"Everyone on FB is fake."
"There is no way that person is who he/she says they are on FB."
"So and so only posts the good things going on in their life like there is nothing bad or horrible that ever happens."
The list goes on, my friends.
Can I say something? Is social media really the problem? I mean, I know you know it isn't...but if it isn't, then why are so many still stuck in the muck and the mire?
What is it in you that causes you to roll your eyes when you see a post by someone? What is it in you that gets a bit of power and delight by liking all comments except the one made by that person? What is it that makes you think, "What can I post on FB to 'get' to so and so without them really knowing what I am doing?" What is it that causes anger and resentment and bitterness to take root when you are sitting at your computer supposedly catching up with everyone?
Could it be that FB really isn't from the devil, but that there is some sin in your life that God is graciously revealing to you through Facebook?
Let's get real for a moment and let that question sink in a bit.
The Father disciplines those whom He loves. When sin is brought to light, it is a good thing. When it is defeated, it is an awesome thing! Taking a break from FB or other social media outlets is a good and right thing if it is causing you to sin. BUT, it is important to not sin further and blame Facebook or those on FB for your "issues". Is that making sense?
Are y'all still my friend? :)
Maybe it is a good time to repent of the way that we think of social media. Repent here being defined as "completely changing the way that we think". Will others still use it as a tool of the enemy? Yep. Should followers of Jesus? I just don't think so. I think if followers of Jesus all over the world would put to death sin that He could be revealing to us through social media ...we would actually be freed up to use this tool for expansive Kingdom work! Can you catch a bit of that vision??
In parenting and giving examples of choices my kiddos could make, we didn't give the positive first...we left the "good choice" for last. :) Same here. Along with the negative and heartbreaking stories that were sent in regarding social media, I got some pretty amazing ones as well. I would love to share them with you!
*An amazing friend had t-shirts made to sell as a way to financially support our family. Through these shirts being pictured on fb, a pastor's wife in the US contacted me about a young man here in Berlin who had heard of Jesus and wanted more information. What?!?! Awesome. This story is still unfolding...;
*Another gifted friend started hand lettering Scripture and is selling them to financially support our family. Through finding these prints on social media, a couple who needed community joined their homegroup!
*One precious friend had taken a break from FB and upon coming back found out that a friend had cancer and that a family member had been in a horrible accident. This friend saw a renewed vision of how to lift up brothers and sisters in prayer through FB.
*Many friends mentioned being able to keep up with friends living all over the world.
*Raising money and awareness to support families in need.
*Many told stories of encouragement when they were going through a hard time.
*One friend spoke of the blessing to far away family members. Through FB she is able to post photos of her children so that grandparents and other family living in other states can see what is going on and feel connected.
*A friend shared about a tragic event that happened in her home and she needed to be with her mother in the hospital. They had just moved and had not joined a new Homegroup yet. This mom posted her needs on FB and church body quickly volunteered to help her out and make sure her young children were well cared for as she was able to tend to her mother in the hospital.
*Countless thousands of dollars raised for adoptions, medical bills, missions, ministries, etc.
*Support groups for so very many precious people; adoption/foster families, YoungLife teen pregnancy families, Homeschool communities, Clean Eating communities, Bible study communities, etc.
A few personal experiences:
*Facebook is the way that our family learned of the Adams family when they went into labor with their twins at 19weeks. Not just reading this information, we left our home and went up to the hospital to pray over this family. When words were hard to come by, we could only offer the ministry of presence.
*Through our experience with the Adams family, we started ministering in this way. When we would see on FB that someone had been in an accident, that a child or family member was being taken to the hospital...we packed our kids up and headed to the hospital. I know some might frown upon this, but the LORD blessed every single one of these situations. Every one of them. No one turned us away and afterward all of them thanked us. Did we know all of these people? No. Was it uncomfortable at times? Yes. Was God glorified? I believe He was!
*Every Thursday I would post a photo of our family serving the homeless ministry in Fort Worth. One week I asked via FB if anyone would like to join our family for an outreach night. Y'all, over 150 people responded! About 50 couldn't make it last minute, but we had 100 eager volunteers out on the streets of Fort Worth praying for and feeding the homeless. It.Was.Awesome.
I think you can easily conclude that social media can be a tool used by the enemy or a tool used for God's glory. Is it okay to get off Facebook if it is a means for sin to rise up and become a stronghold? Yes! But, I encourage you to not stop there. If you get off FB or any other social media for this purpose, take the steps needed to find true freedom from that which caused the frustration, anger, pride, bitterness, jealousy, disdain, etc. Don't allow the enemy to continue to be sneaky in what he makes you think is the problem. "If I just get off facebook I won't have to deal with feelings of ________." Deal with those feelings at their core. Then, with an unoffendable heart, you will be able to step into situations with new eyes.
I hope that this post is read in the love that it is written in. I have prayed over these words. Asked the LORD to silence those which do not bring Him glory and to highlight those which do. He is all. He truly is. His view of you, His love for you, His delight in you, His saving you, His healing you, His plan of hope for you, His great desire for your good...He loves you so, so much.
My heart is to encourage. One of my greatest joys comes from people realizing who they really are in Christ. I have a confidence that these words are for some of you that long to be freed from a stronghold. These ideas are meant for someone who is holding on to a false belief and because of this grasp, unable to live out their God-given purpose. That God can and will use this means of social media to bless His children and bring glory to His name!
Peace and Joy to each one of you.
*I am fully aware that social media can be very dangerous. I want to express condolences and love toward those who have been deeply hurt by others using social media incorrectly. Highlighting, once again, that it is sin and not the means that is the problem.