Congratulations! You’ve got a place on the high council! The Sanhedrin was the council of all the priests and elders of the Jewish people and they essentially took the law and interpreted it into everyday context. They truly had immense power in Biblical times. But today, in 2019, we are all walking around like we are on the high council. Thanks to social media, we now have an audience of our very own to listen to our opinion and read about our thoughts regarding almost everything!
Let me explain… In fact, if you don’t mind, I’d like to share a story with you:
The whole city of Jerusalem is atwitter (pardon the pun) with the news of these followers of Jesus. All over the city, some are being healed, some are being changed; everyone is excited. The religious leaders are scared. They can tell they are losing control of the general population quickly. They are jealous.
What could they do?! Of course, they had to arrest these up-to-know good rabble-rousers!
The religious council said, “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you are telling all of Jerusalem about this guy Jesus and you’re turning everyone against us. ”
But the apostles did not let up. They said, “We must obey God and not you!”
What?! The audacity! Of course, the only thing left to do is just kill the apostles. They could not be stopped by any other method.
However, before a sentence could be delivered, one of the council members, Gamaliel stood up and said, “Remember that guy Judas the Galilean who had that best selling book and got a bunch of facebook followers? He ended up a total failure and no one talks about him anymore. Or do you remember that other guy Theadus who went on the Today show talking about some “message” he’d gotten from God? How did that turn out? He was trending on twitter for weeks, but then he too has faded into obscurity.” Therefore, I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
Wielding the Power We Have Responsibly
I hope you aren’t offended by my changing of a well-known story in the Bible that can be found in Acts chapter 5:17-41. We read it in church this last week, and it was so very familiar to what was happening on my own social media pages that I was truly sobered by this Word.
It especially got me thinking about how social media really has given each of us the “power” of a religious council. Without really realizing it, whether we have 2 facebook friends or two-thousand, we are all delivering up verdicts on the news of the day, and if we aren’t careful we can start to deliver a message that isn’t focused wholly on truth or we could, if worse came to worst, find ourselves fighting against God!
So, as we wield this power that the internet has given us, let us start by filtering our verdicts through a few filters before we push “publish.”
Remember Your Audience
If your facebook friends look anything like mine then they include everyone from people you went to high school with, to the wife of that guy your husband worked with for a while, mixed in with church friends and fellow PTA board members.
And now thanks to social media algorithms we won’t see most of these people show up on our feeds, meaning we quickly forget about them. But, they are there and they may see whatever it is you post, whatever it is you share. This means if I post that well-meaning article on how milk is killing brain-cells and we need to bane it from schools, my friend who is a dairy farmer is going to be offended. That dairy farmer friend, might have liked me before, they might have respected me, but now I’ve lost credibility. At best, they are a Christian dairy farmer and they decide to just like me a little less. At the worst, they are a non-believing dairy farmer and I’ve just built up unnecessary distrust between us.
Guys. I’m not talking about milk. I’m talking about your political views, your views on global warming, homeschooling, Kanye West, Beth Moore, immunization, immigration…the list goes on. Ultimately we must think about *everyone* who might read our words. If it’s worth it, go ahead, and put it out there but before you do think about the following.
Don’t Get Caught Up in the Weeds
Now, if you’re already arguing with me in your head about one of the hot topics I listed above, if you think, “But, _____ is seriously, seriously important!” I want to validate you by saying, “Yes, it is.” But I would argue that it’s not eternal life or death.
Someone’s salvation is.
I believe social media has given us great power, I was not kidding when I said before that it’s given us all a “religious leader’s” status. We have the ears and eyes of our friends and followers. What do you want to say to them? Take some time to decide what is truly important. I pray that it ends up being the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I pray this means you’ll save your videos on milk bans and send those via private message to your five lactose intolerant friends who you know will love it. I pray you’ll think twice before you push publish on any of your pithy comments and clever comebacks. None of us are perfect! We make mistakes and say things we wish we hadn’t. But we can start by focusing on the things that are the most important. If this means we only post silly videos of cats and memes about the weather, great.
And if you also stay out of that political debate at work, even when you know your co-worker is wrong, even better. Our face-to-face conversations can be equally as damaging, but most of us are bravest in our virtual world.
Let us truly focus on Jesus, crucified and risen. And as the verse above says, remember “If it’s just of human power then it will fail, but if it’s from the Lord nothing can stop it.”