“My concern with all this socialising on the Internet is that I’m seeing an increasing number of Christian youths being unwise with the information they reveal on their page and status updates.”
Did You Really Write That?!
Amie Buhari is disturbed by the trend amongst young Christians to promote negativity on social media, and calls on mature believers to teach the youth how to be Christlike in their public communications
Most of us are on some sort of social network site. You know the ones – Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, etc. Even my 12-year-old nephew opened a Facebook account. We shut him down before he could add even two friends, let alone the average 250 that most people have.
My concern with all this socialising on the Internet is that I’m seeing an increasing number of Christian youths being unwise with the information they reveal on their page and status updates.
As much as I like the freedom of speech and conversation with the world that these sites give, everyone seems to have adopted an attitude of transparency and openness with their thoughts on many matters. This is something I have always called for, but I’m increasingly realising that I don’t like a lot of the comments some of our Christian youth are making.
Maybe I’m just getting old, and believe that old but very true saying, ‘Don’t wash your dirty linen in public’. As Christians, we are constantly being scrutinised by non-believers on what we say and do. If we are not living up to the words that we claim to follow, we will be seen as hypocrites. Hypocrites don’t bring people to God; they push them away! So, every time I log onto Facebook, I see young people I know who confess to being Christians, chatting all sorts of nonsense to the whole world – if it’s listening.
Christian youths are swearing and using other offensive language. They are gossiping and offering up negative comments on all manner of subjects. They eagerly reveal ungodly actions they have engaged in. They willingly voice their emotions and retaliation on situations they have been in or heard about. All the while posting “I love Jesus”, “Christian for life” and “God is so good”. All of this isn’t new, but the problem is that it’s done all over the Internet for all to see, and the impact of that is much, much greater.
The juxtaposition of such conflicting messages from our youth causes me great concern. As Christians, we have to be careful of what we say and do. We are supposed to be the light in the darkness, but if we are constantly letting our light be consumed by the darkness of the world, who will listen to our message of God’s love for them? What’s particularly concerning is that our youths don’t seem to have a problem with this public double life they are leading. They are very happy to do as the world does, and expose their double-mindedness to the world. Are we not teaching our young people godly wisdom? Do they not understand that they “…are the salt of the earth? But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot” (Matthew 5:12-14). Have they fallen into the lure of the world that encourages self-expression at any cost? Or is this just the way of the world now? Instead of our young people sitting in self–angst in their bedrooms, working out who they are on their own, they are now doing it openly, with the opinions and views of thousands at the click of the return button.
The Christian youth message via social media can potentially be very powerful. They have the ability to reach out to so many other young people who need to know Christ. They can connect with other young people, and bring them to Jesus on a level that adults can’t. Christian youth are an essential tool to the Kingdom, but this is in danger if they continue to send conflicting messages out to the world.
If we are not teaching our young people to use every opportunity to spread the word (or Word), then they are not fulfilling the plan God has for them. Now, young people are not the only ones guilty of this. Maybe they have learnt this horrible habit from us. If that’s the case, we need to act now to minimise the impact of the unruly tongue. This means we need to teach our young people about the impact (positive and negative) of the tongue. “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18).
We need to explain to them that they are role models to the world. We need them to understand that they need to take their thoughts and emotions to the Lord first, before they share it with the world. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
They need to know that this is not a form of curtailment or suppression, but actually liberation from the world’s view of how to conduct oneself in public, which leads to confusion. In a world of unregulated free speech, let’s remind our kids that true freedom comes in Christ.
Amie Buhari is a youth leader and actress