The Seven Deadly Sins of Christian Social Media
I was thrilled to discover that John Piper tackled this subject on his “Ask Pastor John” podcast because I think we need more voices calling attention to this subject. I am going to borrow some of his headers in this section because I like how he approached this topic.
1. Biblical Error and Misunderstanding
1 Timothy 6:2b–5 (CSB) — 2 …Teach and encourage these things. 3 If anyone teaches false doctrine and does not agree with the sound teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the teaching that promotes godliness, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing, but has an unhealthy interest in disputes and arguments over words. From these come envy, quarreling, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant disagreement among people whose minds are depraved and deprived of the truth, who imagine that godliness is a way to material gain.
You will immediately notice that the effects of false doctrine are “disputes, arguments, envy, quarreling, slander, evil suspicions, and constant disagreement”. These oppose our pursuit of godliness, which is nourished, developed, and advanced by “true doctrine”. Unfortunately, these attributes characterize much of the interaction that we witness on Christian social media.
Christian social media lends itself both to doctrinal error and misunderstanding because of the speed and haste with which it is produced and consumed. We do not generally tend to reflect very much on the information that we access online, which is bad enough when it pertains to the contemporary political and economic issues facing our world today, but even that much worse when it pertains to eternal matters.
Christian social media tends to be strikingly cavalier in how it treats God’s word, having very little reverence for the words of life which it purports to handle. Through unclear phrasing, unnecessary ambiguity, and insufficient diligence in studying the word, Christian social media has injected a great deal of error into how the body of Christ views, handles, and understands God’s word.
2. Replacing the Bible
Psalm 119:11–16 (CSB) — 11 I have treasured your word in my heart so that I may not sin against you. 12 Lord, may you be blessed; teach me your statutes. 13 With my lips I proclaim all the judgments from your mouth. 14 I rejoice in the way revealed by your decrees as much as in all riches. 15 I will meditate on your precepts and think about your ways. 16 I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.
To dig out treasure from God’s word and store it in the holy-of-hollies of our heart takes time spent immersed in God’s word, treasuring (i.e. vesting God’s word with spiritual, emotion, and intellectual value), reflecting on, living by, and rejoicing in God’s word. And while formal instruction in God’s word from Spirit-filled and God-ordained men is vital to this process, no human teacher can replace God’s word. The clarity of thought we gain from a sound Bible teacher and the conviction we receive from a Spirit-filled preacher are immensely profitable to the well-being of our soul. Yet none of this can benefit anyone beyond the amount of time they spend in quiet pursuit of God.
Unfortunately many people know their favorite Bible-teacher better than they know the Bible.
The Quiet Pursuit of God
Jesus teaches God’s true worshipers to worship him in spirit and truth (Jn. 4:23-24). When our use of Christian social media leads us into error or replaces the word of God, it becomes a great hindrance to our quiet pursuit of God. Rather, let us draw near to God with consciences washed clean by pure water (Heb. 10:22) and pursue God in the quiet peace of the truth.