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Facebook and Jesus Part 5
By Pastor Philip Howle
posted March 20, 2013
RELIGION – I have a tricky elbow and
vexing ankle. And although I like to work out and run, I have to be
careful and stay within a few parameters. If I run too much, I will get
a nagging soreness in my ankle. If I lift too heavy, my elbow will
start to cry. It is the body I have. I am otherwise healthy, but given
the choice, I could deal without having to worry about angering these
two parts of my body. You could say I walk on tiptoes to keep them
Now the Bible says that church is a body. It is a great analogy. But as
pastor, I know in churches you have plenty of parts of the body that
can be troublesome. I mean if you involve yourself in church life,
there will be someone who rubs you the wrong way. There will be
somebody who you would rather not deal with; somebody who you would
love to “un-friend,” and no longer see.
Well the reality of “un-friending” someone only exists in the magical
realm of Facebook. God has placed all the people in your church
together for a reason. A reason you may not grasp, but each part of
that body is there. You are not at luxury to “clean up” your friend
list at church.
But in Facebook, you play God. Tim Chester writes that
in Facebook “You choose who will be in community with you. You
create your own communities of convenience that mean you are never
challenged. Or, if you are challenged or relationships become costly,
you can just scuttle off to new relationships. As a result, we never
grow. We are permanently immature. In cyberspace, no relationship is
meaningful and every relationship is expendable. The result is
loneliness in the midst of many Facebook ‘friends’. A recent Australian
study found that lonely people spend more time on Facebook: ‘One of the
most noteworthy findings’, they wrote, ‘was the tendency for neurotic
and lonely individuals to spend greater amounts of time on
Facebook per day than non-lonely individuals.’”
Facebook also allows you to be big and bad! I routinely witness
Facebook conflicts, where people type things about people they would
not say to some ones face. I read this week that “Seventeen per
cent of employees in large companies have been reprimanded for words
they have written on Facebook.” Facebook allows gossip (excuse me
prayer requests) to travel incredibly fast. News of someone’s death can
be spread before even immediate family has had the ability to be
In the past few years a trend has been for couples at their weading to
change their status to “married.” But the sad reality is that Facebook
is not great for a marriage. A very alarming trend is Facebook
adultery. I read this week about a lawyer who has dealt with
thirty divorce cases in the last year, and Facebook has been implicated
in them all.
Tim Chester notes that “Online flirting is leading to real-world
relational breakdown. More than a third of UK divorce filings in 2011
contained the word ‘Facebook’. Over 80 per cent of US divorce lawyers
say they have seen a rise in divorces involving social networking. K.
Jason Krafsky, author of Facebook and Your Marriage, says, ‘Affairs
happen with a lightning speed on Facebook.’ Office romances took time
to develop, and that meant time to think about what you were doing.
Facebook connects us both with old flames and passing contacts whom we
might otherwise forget. ‘It puts temptation in the path of people who
would never in a million years risk having an affair.’”
Here is my final summation of your use of social media. Please
understand that it is powerful. It can be used for good or evil. A
razor sharp scalpel in the hands of a skilled surgeon can save lives
and do amazing good. A razor sharp scalpel in the hands of my six year
old son will only mean disaster.
Proverbs 10:19 says: ‘When words are many, sin is not absent, but he
who holds his tongue is wise.’ Facebook does not cause sin, but it can
accelerate it because it provides so many ways for words to spread so
So in conclusion, I will share the final 12 rules for social media as
given by Tim Chester. His little book “Will you be my Facebook friend?”
is a great read and worth picking up.
1. Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say were the people
concerned in the room.
2. Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t share publicly with your
3. Ensure your online world is visible to your offline Christian
4. Challenge one another if you think someone’s online self reflects a
self-created identity rather than identity in Christ.
5. Challenge one another if you think someone’s online self doesn’t
match their offline self.
6. Use social networking to enhance real-world relationships, not to
7. Don’t let children have unsupervised Internet access or accept as
online friends people you don’t know offline.
8. Set limits to the time you spend online and ask someone to hold you
accountable to these.
9. Set aside a day a week as a technology ‘Sabbath’ or ‘fast’.
10. Avoid alerts (emails, tweets, texts and so on) that interrupt other
activities, especially reading, praying, worshipping, and relating.
11. Ban mobiles from the meal table and the bedroom.
12. Look for opportunities to replace disembodied (online or phone)
communication with embodied (face-to-face) communication.
Also, please Facebook or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) any ideas
you have for our next series. It is a big help and I get grumpy to my
proofreader (my wife) when I run out of ideas!
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