Perception trumps reality

Last night at our midweek student service we stepped out of the normal “service routine” to discuss something that I have become increasingly concerned about.  There is a growing trend of Christians, particularly younger people, posting much to social media that could be misconstrued, or fits within the boundaries of “causing your brother to stumble”.

It’s a fine line, but the premise is this: Perception drives our reality. In most cases, our perceptions are all we have to go on. They are all we have to go on when we ‘meet’ someone online. They are all the unchurched have to go on about church and Christians. In turn, the perceptions others have about our Christian journey will, in some way, affect their own spiritual journey (whether it has started yet or not).

I was so encouraged by the discussion. What was meant to be a short 20 minute “segment” in the service turned into over an hour and a half of healthy discussion, some agreeing, some disagreeing.  The goal for me was that we leave there with a sense of responsibility. We have been entrusted with the privilege of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with those who don’t know Him. Part of that good news is to introduce others to a standard of holiness as set out in scripture, while debunking the myth that ‘Christians are boring and irrelevant’  (well, some are, but they themselves have been caught up in the trap of legalism in most cases). That responsibility should drive a selflessness within us.

At the core of this discussion, which I hope would be an ongoing on, is this question: “How important is that thing to me, that I would be willing for it to lead another person down a road of destruction, harm, temptation or sin?”

Specifically, how important is it that my cocktail is in the group photo when I’m out? How important is it that I get that full tan and therefore wear a tiny bikini instead of a more modest one? How important is that gym selfie with my jocks pulled down awkwardly low so you can see my ‘V’? How important is it that everyone sees how dirty I am after ‘Oppi? How badly do I need to sarcastically respond to that tweet? Do I really need to share this joke?

Sure, there are those who would say ‘but that is my reality, I shouldn’t hide who I am’.  That is not what this is about. It’s not about ‘hiding’ anything. Please, do not do that. Because yes, then that too will portray a certain image that is not consistent with who you are.

One of the conclusions was this: Ultimately, our social media does reflect who we are.  So these may be some helpful questions to evaluate your own social media presence, and where you are in your journey with God

  • Does my Instagram show people that I enjoy the occasional drink when I’m out for dinner, or that I cannot have fun without alcohol in my hand?
  • Does my instagram show others that I enjoy a healthy lifestyle, and hit the gym a few times a week, or that there is nothing more important to me that my Abs?
  • Does my twitter feed reveal that I only enjoy inappropriate jokes, or do I RT stuff that is of value to others (clean jokes, funny pictures etc)
  • Do the photos I post with my boyfriend/girlfriend lead others to suspect that we have a healthy, Godly relationship with boundaries, or do they suggest that we are more than likely sleeping together?
  • Does the way I comment on Facebook posts portray me as one who enjoys healthy debate, or rather an argumentative condescending individual?

As I said, I hope the conversation continues.  Feel free to comment.  What scriptures, especially, would help us get this right?

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