For some years now, being on social media platforms has turned me into a just-keep-it-to-myself kind of Christian. There have been numerous occasions where I’ve been afraid of posting something and getting shunned—“cancelled”—should it be contrary to what most people believe or feel.
One time, when an acquaintance had posted how silly it was to turn to the Bible when it was just a book full of inaccuracies, I thought of suggesting how taking a close look at biblical background and history might provide a different perspective, but then changed my mind for fear of backlash from said person.
While the Internet has offered us the ability to communicate with loved ones and gain knowledge through research, I’ve found that it has also made me less bold about my faith and more concerned about staying relevant. I’ve ended up avoiding talking about things like Christ-centred identity and biblical marriage on my Instagram platform, just because I don’t want to risk being labelled narrow-minded or homophobic. That said, becoming aware of this struggle has also prompted me to revisit where I, as a believer, stand on certain political and social issues, which has been important for deepening my faith.
As most social interactions happen online, and many of us default to social media for communication, I believe we have more opportunities online to share our faith than we may do face-to-face, which is why I’ve felt compelled to re-evaluate my online presence as a believer.
As Christians, we’re meant to view the world through the lens of Scripture, in order that we might know truth and reality of life as its Creator—God—intended it to be. And as theologian David Dockery so aptly states: “A Christian worldview is not just one’s personal faith expression, not just a theory. It is an all-consuming way of life, applicable to all spheres of life.” We recognise and accept God’s sovereignty, which puts us in a starkly different position from the rest of the world.
And so, in terms of expressing ourselves as Scripture-following disciples, 2 Timothy 4:2 says, “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” The subsequent verses go on to describe how people will reject doctrine and listen only to what they want to hear. And yet, Paul gives Timothy (and us, by extension) the charge to persevere in our calling to preach the truth.
This passage shows us two things. First, the basis of our views should not be drawn merely by our own logic or personal sentiment but should be founded on the Word of God. Second, we are to be patient and gentle when placed in situations in which we hope to bring in a biblical perspective.
Reflecting on 2 Timothy 4:2 has helped me become slower to reply to non-believers who reject and sometimes ridicule the Christian faith. It has moved me to be more mindful of my attitude towards such rejection, and to continue loving, praying for, and having conversations about faith with non-believers instead of giving up.
I’ve learnt that sharing isn’t limited to the Christian faith in general, but extends to my life. We can’t effectively communicate the gospel if our actions don’t match our words. And so, this has caused me to be more conscious of how I witness through the way I live, and more patient with others, especially in the way I listen.
In the experiences I’ve had with non-believers, I’ve noticed how I can do better in listening and asking questions rather than focusing solely on getting my spiel across and trying to convince them to change their minds. We all want to be seen and valued for who we are, and we know how vital trust is in making us receptive to what others have to say, and so these should guide us in the way we share.
Beyond responding to contentious issues, one way I try to share my faith with non-believing friends online is to message them to say that I’m praying for them if I know they are going through challenging situations. More often than not, these texts are warmly received and replied to with an appreciative “thank you.”
Another way is to practice discernment in the things I post, especially to refrain from talking about contentious topics just for the sake of proving a point. We often share so much of our lives on social media, so every time we post something, we can first ask ourselves, “Is this beneficial? Constructive? Will it be a blessing to people? Is it loving? Is it reflective of the Truth?”
And so, as I continue to reflect on my role and responsibility as a Christian in the online space, I try to keep in mind these five things to help me persist in sharing my faith and not be held back by fear:
- Be a good listener (James 1:19)
- Remember the Gospel is disruptive (John 15:18-27)
- Know Scripture well (1 Peter 3:15)
- Understand the outcome isn’t our responsibility (John 6:44)
- Trust the Holy Spirit to do His work (1 Corinthians 2:4-5)
Seeing how God has given us encouragement in these verses, we can take comfort in knowing that He cares about these challenges and that He is with us every step of the way.