I was taking an early morning hike through the mountains at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. It was a cool summer morning and I should have been peaceful and relaxed, but instead, I was upset. And it wasn’t at my husband back in Wilmington, or my children, or my mother. I was upset because of Facebook. Rather, what I saw on Facebook. It wasn’t one of the many flaming political post that upset me, or even something that went against my beliefs. It was posts by Christians about Jesus. If you are on Facebook, and you have a few Christian friends, you have seen posts like this repeatedly:
I know people who post this are God-fearing Christians who are simply trying to honor Jesus by speaking out about their faith. But as a Bible teacher, I have some problems with this type of post. The post implies that IF their Christian friends do not do what they say, if they do not copy and paste their post, THEN they are denying Jesus. And a warning is given, implying that if we are ashamed and we deny Jesus by not sharing their post on our Facebook pages, then God will deny us in heaven.
Wait. Wasn’t the gospel about God sending His son to die for sinners so that He could be reconciled to them? Aren’t we saved by grace and not by works? Where does it say in the Bible that if I don’t copy and paste my friend’s Facebook post that I will lose my salvation and be kept out of heaven? Am I ashamed of Jesus if I don’t post what my friend says I should?
To me, this feels like manipulation – using fear to get me to do something. It just like the old email chain mail letters…”forward this email to 10 of your friends or something bad will happen in the next hour.” This is everywhere on Facebook, from “Only those who truly love me will leave a comment” and “I will know if you care about this issue if you share my post” to the seemingly innocuous “Type Amen if you agree.” These types of statements can manipulate and guilt people into doing what you ask them to do. It doesn’t allow people the freedom to act as they feel led because they want to please and appease you.
Back in Bible times when the early church was growing, there was a group of people called the Judaizers. They went around telling new converts that they were not really saved unless they were circumcised and did a bunch of other stuff. They whittled down our relationship with God to a set of religious actions. The Apostle Paul deals with their legalism in a lengthy discourse taking six chapters in the book of Galatians. While he draws many conclusions, here is one of them:
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision mean anything, but faith working through love. Galatians 5:6
What Paul is saying is that the new believers did not have to cave to the demands of the Judaizers. The new believers did not have to be circumcised to be saved. Salvation is not determined by an outward action, but salvation is about faith and love, and it only comes by grace.
From reading my Bible, I can conclude that I do not have to share anyone’s Facebook post to guarantee my salvation. Jesus paid for my salvation on the cross over 2000 years ago. Facebook had nothing to do with it.
What matters to Jesus is not what we post on our Facebook pages, but our heart.
Our relationship with God is what matters, not if we copy and paste or Amen or forward when our friends ask us to.
I think it is important that we speak out about our faith, especially on places like Facebook. But let’s let our friends freely determine if they want to do the same, and let their salvation be between them and God.
PS I wrote this blog post over the summer. If you recently posted something like this on Facebook, please don’t think that I wrote it about you personally. I wrote it because this is a common occurrence on social media, and it concerns me.