As I have been reading the Sermon on the Mount everyday this lent, it has caused me to stop and think about what I experience everyday on Facebook. Does how we interact with each other on the internet impact how we respond to each other in person? Because of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, I know a lot about the people on my friends lists. I have learned about their families, where and what people like to eat, where people go on vacation and out with friends. But … there is a dark side to the internet. I also learn about your politics. Now don’t get me wrong. I love politics, I love to have a political discussion where we debate the issues and challenge each other’s perceptions and truth. In this personal discussion, we have the chance to learn from each other, hear where the other person is coming from and have our opinions enriched. On social media – this rich give and take of dialogue doesn’t happen. We get-
There isn’t any nuance, there isn’t give and take. There is just a confirmation of our worst impulses. What if we approached social media and the internet with the Sermon on the Mount before us?
· But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool”, you will be liable to the hell of fire. Matthew 5:22· But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Matthew 5:39-41· I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. Matthew 7:1· In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. Matthew 7:12
Jesus is inviting us to be different than the culture around us. He is asking us to think about those we encounter whether in person or on social media. By looking at our social media account could someone tell we followed Jesus? Could they see that the path we follow is not of this world? Before we post we should check is this sentiment something I would want applied to me. Does this activity judge? Does this activity show a call to love those I don’t like, have been told to hate, are my enemies, my rivals, those I despise? Is this activity calling on me to turn the other cheek? In our social media encounters, do we remember to set aside anger and name calling in order to reconcile with our brothers and sisters? This is not easy. It means we need to monitor our feed and ask not to see posts that cross the line. We hit that little dot in the corner and in the drop down box choose hide post. This means dropping all those sites that confirm our bias and drive us into acts of unkindness, leading us away from love. May your encounters on social media be polite, mindful, tolerant, decent, honest, and reflect love.