In February 2004, Mark Zuckerberg and company began what would become a revolution in the way that we would live our lives. They launched a social networking site known as "Facebook," which now has over 750 million active users and counting. Facebook has become such an important part of many of our lives that we cannot imagine what life would ever look like without it. How else could we tell our friends about our day and inform them as to our whereabouts? Where would we put the photos from our latest outing or event? How would we know what our friends did today or how they are feeling? "Writing on someone's wall" used to refer to graffiti. Now it is a standard form of communication. "Friend" has now become a verb. We speak of "friending" people or them not "friending" us. Our world has radically been changed by Facebook.
This social revolution has had many benefits. It has enabled us to reconnect with old friends and maintain friendships when separated by distance. Facebook has allowed me the blessing of keeping up with my friends from high school, college, and seminary as well as those I have served alongside in various ministries the past few years. Now since I have moved away from my hometown and from many of my family and friends, I am beginning to realize how important Facebook can be in staying connected with them. Facebook makes it easy to share announcements or important events as well. In a few minutes you can let all of your Facebook friends know about an upcoming gathering at your house or outing at your church. And Facebook can be used greatly for God's glory. One can post encouraging notes and links pertaining to His Word (as I attempt to do). One can use Scriptures for status messages or share a thought that directs us to God. A lot of good can and has come out of this innovation.
However, a lot of harm can come from Facebook as well if we are not careful. It can be a great temptation that leads to sinful attitudes. Probably the biggest issue with Facebook is pride. The tendency with Facebook is to promote ourselves and not Christ. Often, we fall prey to this without even realizing it. It becomes so easy for a quick thought about the Lord to turn into "look how clever I am for coming up with this." We wait to see how many of our friends "like" what we wrote. Did we share it to be "liked" by our "friends" or to glorify God? Our friend count begins to be viewed not over how many people I can share the gospel with or encourage with Scripture but how many friends I can accumulate. The focus gets switched from the people themselves and redirected to the numbers. Or we take the opportunity to boast of something we are doing in our status instead of boasting of Christ and the cross. Our profile may even be filled with Scripture quotes and things about God but again is it for His sake alone or are we just using Him to exalt ourselves?
We are warned against the danger and harms of pride throughout Scripture. Solomon instructs us in Proverbs that Pride goes before destruction, / And a haughty spirit before stumbling (16:18). The Hebrew word for pride used here literally means exaltation. The root of the word communicates the idea of rise up. To be prideful is to exalt oneself. This word is used of God seven times in a positive sense. God should always be exalted and raised up. However, in its 27 references in relation to man, it is mostly negative. For man to exalt himself would be in essence for him to treat himself as God since only God deserves to be exalted. This type of pride served as the foil for Eve giving into the serpent's deception. He promised her that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:5). Whenever we seek to draw attention to ourselves instead of God, we are trying to be like God, placing ourselves on a pedestal which only He should sit upon. The result of such pride is certainly negative. It leads to destruction and stumbling. Pride on Facebook proves no different. It also leads to ruin. We may fool our friends with our motives but we can never fool God. All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, / But the LORD weighs the motives (Proverbs 16:2).
I think that the attitude we should have with our use of Facebook should be the same attitude Paul had with his ministry to the church at Corinth. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus' sake (2 Corinthians 4:5). Whatever we post on Facebook should be to proclaim Christ and not to promote ourselves. We should view ourselves as servants of our "friends" and be mindful of how what we post may glorify God and edify them. Perhaps the best question we should ask before we click "share" should be "is this for myself or Christ and others?" This might ensure that we do not wind up falling into the trap of pride and exalting ourselves.
Soli Deo Gloria!