The influence of Facebook is expansive, crossing the globe with stops in most major metropolises and countries. In the midst of applauding such an accomplishment, commending Facebook for its impact on bringing the world together, we often fail to consider its impact at the individual level. More than influencing the world, Facebook boasts over 1.5 billion users! That represents not only represents 21% of the world population, but it represents 1.5 billion individuals that can be influenced.
Facebook has come under recent criticism for for censorship and propagating a biased agenda. While those are legitimate concerns, our focus on this has caused us to neglect the personal influence that takes place. In an age where postings can quickly go viral and be spread across a large expanse of Facebook, the capability to influence others is phenomenal. As a Christian, consider something specific: How Facebook users can influence the theology of other users.
If you are like me, your Facebook entourage includes people from all kinds of backgrounds, some professing believers and some not. What people are compelled to post reveals much about them and their spiritual status. The most discouraging (and admittedly aggravating) are the postings from professing believers. Often consisting of Pinterest photos and Facebook memes, these posts echo the secular world’s call of love and tolerance of all people for all things. Usually it is some flowery saying of how Christ loved everyone (which is false). They are often at best, misinformed teachings of Scripture revealing the weak theology of those who claim to follow Christ.
The problem with this is that most people readily accept such teachings. With little regard for the truth, most act more quickly to share such posts rather than research it. It not only reflects people’s lack of interest in theology, but their lack of care and caution in teaching it. With the potential to reach 1.5 billion users, such false teaching can impact the lives and souls of a large amount of people. Thus, this is no small issue.
The seriousness of the issue underscores the importance and responsibility that believers have towards an unbelieving world. That responsibility is formed by two functions. The first is the function of self-protection. While most will so readily accept what they read as truth, we cannot be so easily persuaded. We must allow the Word of God to dictate what the truth is and live according to it alone.This also means being on guard and testing as John writes throughout his three epistles. Second, we must function as ambassadors, sharing the truth to counteract the falsehood. While I urge discretion and caution sometimes in the manner that we convey the truth, our charge is to preach the truth.
While I lament the impact Facebook can have on theology, it’s important to note that the issue is not isolated to a single discipline. The same observations prove true in politics, news, noteworthy stories, etc. With little regard for authenticity people are prone to accept what they read as true and even quicker to share their own opinions.
It is unfortunate that people are getting their theology more from Facebook than from the Bible. Even more, it is a sad state to see that people not merely informed by it, but transformed by it.