By Abigail Gan | Guest Contributor
Imagine the classic shot of an aesthetic Bible with a verse highlighted or written over the picture. You might ask, what exactly did they get out of their time reading their Bible? Did they actually read it? What’s the intention of the post anyway?
While these posts and stories are not inherently bad, the effects of them often cause more harm than good. The crux of social media Christianity is the temptation to prove one’s righteousness and look like a “good Christian.”
At a university that identifies itself as Christian, social media posts about Christianity are often akin to performative activism posts. Sharing stories or posts to prove that you are a good Christian is, in fact, decidedly unchristian and only adds to certain stereotypes.
Matthew 6:5 says, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.”
This verse cautions against acting in this way, praying and showing off your faith to be seen as righteous.
Someone who doesn’t fully understand what they are posting can confuse people who aren’t Christian. An example of this is when verses are shared incorrectly or out of context.
For example, one of the verses shared most often on social media is Philippians 4:13, which says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” I’ve seen this verse used in posts about championship victories, college acceptances and so much more. This connotation often misleads people to believe that they can do anything if they are a Christian. But in context, the apostle Paul is speaking about how one can endure any circumstance because they take strength in Christ, not that they can necessarily achieve their biggest goal.
Additionally, people who post about their faith but act differently in real life contradict themselves and perpetuate the stereotype that Christians are hypocritical and fake.
James 2:14 says, “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” Posting about faith on social media but not living it out in real life is pointless. As James 2:17 says, “… faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
Additionally, only posting the positive and ignoring hard topics can perpetuate the idea that Christians need to be perfect and conceal struggles to avoid being perceived as “less Christian.”
However, social media, while often a place of inauthenticity, can be utilized effectively to share the Christian faith.
You might’ve seen a post by social media influencer Grace Valentine, @thegracevalentine. Valentine has a whopping 97.5K followers and posts mini-books targeted to teens and young adults providing encouragement and scripture-supported advice through different moments of life. Valentine has also shared about her past struggles in several of her posts. Being vulnerable as a Christian can help others feel less alone and more comfortable asking for support from others.
Using social media to share the gospel or thought-out, scripture-based encouragement can be beneficial. Additionally, vulnerability and honesty can encourage others to know they are not alone.
While social media can be positive for Christians, it is not a replacement for sharing one’s faith on a more personal level. Christians should focus more on showing their faith through their actions and loving others than proving their righteousness on social media. The real opportunity to share your faith isn’t on social media; it’s with the people you see on a regular basis.