North Church - Albuquerque, NM


Self-Expression, Social Media and Scripture

As a culture, we value self-expression above most everything else. We are a people who are free to say and do whatever we want and be whomever we want, wherever we want, whenever we want. Our only limitation is that we won’t suppress the self-expression of others. The canvas of self-expression has become social media: Twitter, Facebook, Instragram and Snap Chat. This isn’t intrinsically an evil thing. As a matter of fact, I am self-expressing now through this blog. It will be posted on social media. And I hope it will be helpful to others. 

But how should followers of Jesus view self-expression on social media? What guidelines can govern us? While our technology may be modern and the culture fresh, the discussion around self-expression isn’t. Actually, it is addressed multiple times in the bible. One of the best examples is found in Romans 14. 

[13] Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. [14] I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. [15] For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. [16] So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. [17] For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. [18]Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. [19] So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. 

[20] Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. [21] It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. 

Christianity isn’t a massive set of rules to be kept with a few occasional freedoms. It is quite the opposite. Christianity is a massive freedom to be enjoyed that was achieved by Jesus, our perfect rule keeper, with a few exceptional rules. In this passage, we find two of those guardrails.

First, christians should not judge each other in the expression of individual biblical liberty. In this passage, the subject matter is what a person eats and drinks. Applied to self-expression today on social media, one christian should not judge another christian when he or she is simply enjoying a liberty. For instance, I won’t be offended by a brother’s Snapchat downing a beer with friends at a local brewery even when my conscience forbids me to drink. I won’t call for the pastors to pursue church discipline against a sister who posts her favorite carne adovada recipe on Facebook just because I am a convicted vegan.  

Second, christians should limit their liberty for the sake of love. This means my right to self-expression is overruled by my love for others. When my self-expression stumbles others I have sinned against them. When my enjoyment of liberty invites others to actively violate their consciences, I have wronged them. My self-expression then threatens the peace Jesus is building among his people. This means I won’t send out a “Cigars by the Fire Pit” invite on Facebook to those who can’t smoke because of conscience. While I may be at liberty to do so personally, I am bound by something much greater: my love for those loved by Jesus.

Liberty as a follower of Jesus is a wonderful gift. But loving each other while limiting our liberty is even better. A good rule of thumb when it comes to social media is indeed “less is more”. The culture we swim in is lesser when compared to the greater Kingdom we call home. And the Kingdom we call home is all about “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”.  Thank you, King Jesus, for liberty. Thank you, King Jesus, even more for love.