This passage from Colossians 4 especially came to mind, and I think it has four important guidelines to govern my online communication: "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful...Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone" (NIV).
- Pray first. How often do I dash off a blog article, or a Facebook post, or a Tweet, quickly, without much thought and especially without prayer? Too often! I need to bathe everything I do in prayer, and my writing is no less important - maybe even moreso in this day of instant communication where your words can reach hundreds, even thousands, in seconds.
- Realize how outsiders may perceive you. A good portion of those my words reach may not share my perspective or my faith. I need to think about how my words are going to be perceived by someone who does not claim to follow Jesus. Am I using church and Bible language that obscures my meaning? Am I saying something flippantly that will be misunderstood by someone who is not in my inner circle? I understand that the Gospel message may offend people, but let it be the Gospel that offends and not my way of communicating!
- Seize opportunities. There are amazing opportunities to be a positive influence for Christ online. We can and should take advantage of open doors to speak about truth, to take a biblical stand on social and moral issues, to share the love of Jesus with others. We don't need to shy away from these to be "safe".
- Season your words with grace. We can be bold, seizing opportunities, without being obnoxious. Grace is unmerited favor, what Jesus gives us in salvation. Let our words be filled with unmerited favor toward our readers, with the goal of knowing how to answer everyone - which implies a conversation, not a monologue. When we post something on Facebook or on Twitter or in a blog, it shouldn't be just to blast our point of view in the most verbally powerful punch we can deliver. It should be to invite a grace-filled conversation with others who we can then impact in a personal way, for the glory of God.
How do you integrate your faith with the way you communicate through social media? Share in the comments!