Again as Lent approaches, I see the posts of Facebook friends announcing that they will be giving up Facebook for Lent and they won’t be back until after Easter.
Some of these are people with whom I only have contact on Facebook. I wonder how they would feel if their friends in “real life” (we need a better word, social media IS real life) announced “I’m giving you up for Lent, talk to you after Easter”
I don’t give up social media for Lent, any more than I give up the telephone or my car.
This year it’s my job to be on social media. Can you imagine telling your boss “I’m giving up my job for Lent”?
My life has been enriched and my faith strengthened through my relationships and communications on social media.
But it’s not just about me. I have long had concerns about how easy it is for the spiritual disciplines of Lent to become all about me and making me a better person.
Lent is not just about me and Jesus.
We don’t go through Lent alone; we experience it in community. Lent should be a time to strengthen our relationship with each other as well as with God. There are others on social media who benefit from my presence. There are people who would miss me if I was not there.
There are people who would miss you if disappeared for Lent. If there are not, then you are doing it wrong.
Christ has no online presence but yours, No blog, no Facebook page but yours, Yours are the tweets through which love touches this world, Yours are the posts through which the Gospel is shared, Yours are the updates through which hope is revealed. Christ has no online presence but yours, No blog, no Facebook page but yours.
Are there things on Social Media that are detrimental to our faith? For sure.
How about instead of fasting from social media, we become more intentional about using it to strengthen our faith and those of our friends?
For example, during Lent we could resolve to:
- Engage in fewer online arguments.
- Read through our friend’s posts and say a prayer for each one as we do so
- Write something uplifting and encouraging on five people’s walls each day. (Maybe even do that to the people whose posts annoy us the most)
- Resist the urge to argue or correct someone’s post
- Be intentional about posting one thing each day that witnesses to the love and grace of God
What are some other ways we can use social media to uplift and strengthen our faith and witness?
By Pastor Joelle Colville-Hanson, Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA