E-pistle March 19

They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Facebook Pages
A disclaimer first.  I am a terrible Facebook friend. If you happen to be one of my 101 Facebook friends, you know that I update my status about every three weeks and make only occasional comments on your posts. I have two apps and I don’t really know how I got them. But I do check Facebook fairly often just to listen in on the lives of friends and acquaintances. It’s sort a fly-on-the-wall approach to social networking.
My 101 friends, probably like yours, represent the rich variety of my life. They post in three different languages. They include people I have known all my life and some I’ve known only a few months. They range in age from the mid-teens to the late 80’s. Among them are some who post articles and join groups based on their conviction that President Obama and his administration have sold out The Cause and are drifting too far to the right. Others of a more conservative ilk harbor suspicions that Glen Beck is probably a closet moderate after all.  And then there are those Farmville addicts, but that’s a story for another day…
The majority of my Facebook friends are Christians, again, representative of my life. But I know that there among the Christians are some others for whom I may be the only personal contact with Christian faith; they read and hear about Christians at a distance and have a mostly negative view of our faith. They don’t quite know what to do with a practicing Christian who seems relatively human. Some of my Facebook friends have left the church in pain or disappointment long ago and still feel a deep resentment towards the church that sometimes spills over to all those who have fled to her and cling to her as the Body and the Bride of a gracious Savior.
I’m guessing it may be the same for many of you.
So, what are our non-Christian friends learning about a life with Christ from our Facebook pages?  Very little from me with my fly-on-the-wall approach to social networking.
As I listen in on some of my more gregarious friends’ conversations, though, I am impressed with the way that the gospel is gently and graciously shared in a “what’s on your mind?” update or a comment made in response to another friend’s posting. It may be as simple as a promise to pray for a difficult situation or the offering of praise for the Creator’s gift of a glorious sunrise or the Spirit’s kind guidance towards a new opportunity.
But, and I’m sorry if I cross that line from preachin’ to meddlin’, what do you say to your non-Christian, questioning or even anti-Christian friends when:

  • Your political conviction drifts into hate-filled language about those with whom you disagree?
  • You talk about going to church and you ask for prayers, but then, as a friend from a different season of my life and from a place far from Langhorne recently did, you take the “who are you…really?” test and post the results identifying yourself as a “drunken party animal”?
  • You express excessive anger about one of life’s very small irritations?
  • You declare yourself to trust a Sovereign God and a Loving Redeemer, but then post your daily horoscope – even if you don’t really believe in the alignment of the stars?
  • You become a fan of, or join a group for, something that is, at best, crass and, more likely, is an affront the gospel?
  • You frequently use the ubiquitous OMG and occasionally those obscene acronyms without giving it a second thought?

One of the national survey results I tossed into a sermon a few weeks ago indicates that over 70% of all American Christians want to find appropriate ways to share their faith with those they know and love. Only 22% of us think we’re doing a very good job of it.
I have 101 friends who will see what’s on my mind if I get around to telling them. They will hear my comments when I respond to what they say. They get to see who I am…really.
Of course, it seems so shallow in a world of desperate need, but will they know we are Christians by our Facebook pages?