When I was called to preach at 12 years of age, I could never have even conceived of a methodology by which I could instantly share biblical truths 280 characters at a time with thousands of people around the world with the push of a button. And yet, I now do so each day on Twitter, as well as in bigger character chunks on Facebook, Parler, USA.Life, MeWe, Instagram, LinkedIn, Gab, Getter and Truth Social.
I am not at all sure how, in all of that crowd, Twitter somehow became the center of the social-media universe. Honestly, and meaning no offense at all to Twitter or the fascinating Mr. Musk, I get far more interactions (and meaningful ones, at that) from Facebook, as well as far more traffic directed to my website. And yet, even before the Elon Musk bird buyout, Twitter seems to have been regarded by all as the must-have social-media platform.
So I have it. I started my @PreacherBo account in March of 2012 and now have the (truly unimpressive by big-media-people standards) grand total of 1,418 followers. That leaves me at roughly 113,998,582 followers less than Musk himself, 2,498,582 followers less than actor James Woods, one of my favorite follows, but 1,262 more followers than the random, anonymous troll who got angry at a Bible verse I posted last week.
Anyway, being a Christian and a preacher on Twitter is actually a pretty interesting thing since Twitter seems to be much more of a potential worldwide sampling of people from post to post rather than people you actually know. That, I suppose, is what differentiates it from Facebook. As such, the reactions I get on any post are wildly varied.
As I mentioned, I periodically get replies from people who get very angry at whatever Bible verse I post each morning. But I also get replies from people I do not even know who ask for prayer, share my penchant for dad jokes, agree or disagree on a point of politics or mockingly suggest that I am lost for posting offensive phrases like "Roll Tide." Twitter is, it seems, a vast marketplace of ideas, an ever-changing mega-mall of positions, opinions, questions and assertions.
In other words, it has the potential to be a lot like humanity, for good and for bad.
It does not surprise me, given the left-leaning nature of Silicon Valley, that Twitter has, for many years, tried to stifle conversation of conservatives, Christians and other right-leaning persona non grata. When even the utterly hilarious Babylon Bee gets censored, you know you are dealing with people who believe themselves to be the deities of truth, determiners of humor and deciders of destiny. Hopefully, the Musk takeover will bring some much-needed balance to the bird.
Anyway, to my main point, social media is a phenomenal way to spread truth, including the truth of Scripture. Used properly, it is also a great way to confront error, encourage those who are down and rally support for those in need. It is, in other words, a great way to fulfill the command of Ephesians 4:15 that we confront falsehood by speaking the truth in love, the command of Matthew 28:19-20 that we take the gospel to the entire world and the command of Galatians 6:2 that we bear each other's burdens. Christians seem to have a habit of being behind the curve when it comes to using potentially helpful tools, mostly for fear of inadvertently letting their eyes see or their ears hear things that will dirty their hearts. And that is absolutely a valid concern, one that must be accounted for.
But since social media holds the potential to reach the world, Christians cannot neglect it. No, not every Christian needs to have it; some cannot handle it right. But for those who can, here are some things to know.
One, Matthew 12:36 does, in fact, apply to social-media posts. It says, "But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment." Before you tweet, take time to think about whether or not you want to have a face-to-face discussion with God about those 280 characters one day, because you will.
Two, everyone else has just as much right to their opinion as you do to yours. Only weak, timid people demand to be the only ones allowed to speak. Mature, confident people are willing to debate their positions calmly and rationally. Even God said, "Come now, and let us reason together" (Isaiah 1:18).
Three, give more weight to things said by people with real names and profile pictures than by those who wish to remain anonymous. People certainly have the right to remain anonymous, and many no doubt have valid reasons to do so. But those who have the courage to openly own their words and assertions should be viewed as more trustworthy until proven otherwise. In Ezekiel 22:30, God said that he was looking for a man to step up and stand in the gap, not a unicorn with the handle @SparkleMuffinToes2022.
Four, don't take yourself too seriously. Learn to laugh at yourself when people point out funny things in you. You are not God; therefore, you are not perfect. Proverbs 17:22 says, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine." If you are going to survive social media, a good sense of humor is really helpful.
Five, remember that the devil is still very real, very active and very destructive (1 Peter 5:8). And while he likely does not have his own social-media accounts (hell only has dial-up internet), he certainly does have human team members, many of whom you will encounter online. You better be sure that you spend more time reading your Bible and praying than you do on social media because if you don't, when you do go on social media, you are going to lose most every battle the devil brings your way.
Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at wordofhismouth.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.