Anthony Weiner and Christopher Lee were both forced to resign from Congress after posting sexually suggestive pictures of themselves on social media. Pro Bowl running back Larry Johnson sent tweets demeaning his coach, and was released by his team. Aflac fired comedian Gilbert Gottfried as the voice of their duck after he tweeted jokes about the Japanese tsunami.
Some 58 percent of America’s adults use Facebook; 47 percent say Facebook has the greatest impact on their purchasing behavior; 45 percent of Facebook’s users check their account several times a day. Nearly half of all employers use social networking sites to research job candidates. What we post, and how long we spend on social media, is now vital to our employability.
And to our witness for Christ. Our Facebook posts and tweets are read by people whose faith background we may not know. More than 1.2 billion people use Facebook every month—if they are representative of the global population, only a third of them are Christians. Offhand comments can be hurtful to our relationships and even damaging to our witness.
For instance, 2012 election day exit polls indicated that 70 percent of those who had no religious affiliation voted Democrat. Studies show that the more frequently people attend worship, the more likely they are to vote Republican. My point is not to comment on partisan politics—some of the strongest Christians I know are committed Democrats. Rather, it is to note the statistical fact that Christians who use social media to rant against Democrats or President Obama might estrange non-believers.
In a culture where more people than ever before claim no religion, Christians are the only “church” many will attend. (Tweet this) We are the only Bible many will read. Our personal witness has never been more critical to the advance of God’s Kingdom.
Acts 11 tells us that Barnabas and Paul spent a year in Antioch teaching Christian converts there. It is no surprise that we read next, “the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch” (Acts 11:26). “Christian” means “follower of Christ” or “Christ imitator.” Their culture knew their name by their behavior.
So does ours.
According to the Charlotte Observer, North Carolina legislators want to place a statue of Billy Graham in the U.S. Capitol building. Each state is permitted to place two statues in the National Statuary Hall Collection. Dr. Graham’s statue would replace that of former Gov. Charles B. Aycock, who has recently come under fire for his white supremacist views. States can’t submit statues of living persons, so Dr. Graham’s statue would not be displayed until his death.
How we live today determines how we are remembered tomorrow. So let’s pray urgently for the Holy Spirit to form the character of Christ in us (Romans 8:29). Would those who know you best call you a “Christian”?