Sometimes we are whiny, superficial, proud, judgmental jerks on Twitter.
Lately, I’ve been feeling very convicted by what I think is not only a lost opportunity but probably an abuse of power by those of us Christians representing Christ on the Internet.
According to Galatians 5, God’s people bear visible fruit. They’re loving. Joyful. Patient. Kind. Peaceful.
I do follow people on Twitter who are all of those things. Reading their words uplifts, encourages, challenges, and delights me. Among the often dismal offerings in my feed, they are a ray of light.
They don’t ball out the phone company or bash the president out of hand. They don’t mock other people’s work, other people’s clothes, other people’s taste, other people’s less than wise choices. They steward well the attention of friends and associates, many of whom do not know Christ.
I don’t imagine that kind of persistent joy, gentleness, and kindness comes easily.
Personally, I’m regularly tempted to Tweet out of anger, to Tweet out of pride, to Tweet out of envy. I update my Facebook status as much to feed my own ego and glorify myself as for any other reason. I’m struggling to define for myself what is and is not appropriate to “share” in a status.
Whatever words I type into that little white rectangle represent more than a whispered concern to a friend over coffee. I must be fully aware that 100, 500, 1,000 or more people are listening and weighing the truth and power of God almighty based on the fruit or fruitlessness of my post.
I want to believe that we Tweet or update unwisely because we type in haste, hurrying to capture what seemed funny or important in the moment. I’ve done this (I do this), speaking before thinking, offending people I respect, losing credibility, and making an idiot of myself.
I’m reminded of Proverbs 29:20:
"Do you see someone who speaks in haste?
There is more hope for a fool than for them.”
A wise woman thinks before she types, sending her words through a filter before she shares them with every person she met at that cool party last night, every woman in her grandmother’s ladies Bible class, and every potential employer visiting her profile page. Not to mention her hairdresser who she just invited to Bible study.
I worry, though, that it’s about more than typing in haste. I know people who plan their Tweets or Facebook notes days in advance and still they’re bitingly sarcastic, mean, or petty. I’m afraid that many of us are jerks on the Internet because we’re jerks in our hearts.
As Jesus said:
"Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them."
I do not want to criticize the judgmental by being judgmental. I just want to encourage all of us to live with discretion and integrity, doing all we can to look like Christ—at church, at work, at the homeless shelter, and on the Internet.
I want, more than anything, for my light—God’s light in me—to lead others into a powerful, life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ, Savior and Redeemer of mankind. I don’t want anything to get in the way of that.
Definitely not a hastily composed, ill-spirited Tweet.