What does it look like to use social media with Christ-like humility? Certainly, we can point to many examples of what it DOESN’T look like. But what DOES it look like? Or, are we to avoid having an online presence altogether and therefore not have to worry about misusing it?
How to obediently follow God’s command to “consider others more significant than ourselves” while engaging in the digital life is something the Gathering media team wrestled with over the course of the three-year planning process for the 2016 LCMS Youth Gathering. Paul’s words to the Philippians are clear that we are to have the same mind of Christ who looked not only to His own interests but in humility, also to the interests of others.
Posting with humility proves to have no easy answer and even more, is impossible to perfectly live out. Personally, I lean towards the side of just avoiding engaging online altogether which, although I wish solved everything, is also not the answer. Completely ignoring how billions of people communicate on a daily, almost constant basis is turning a blind eye to arguably the largest people group in the world – a people group who is accessible to us at the click of our mouse.
God’s Word tells us we are to live in yet not of the world. Like most things in our Christian walk, I believe we are to live in the tension in between the two extremes of self-absorbed posting and completely blank pages. What does that look like? The answer varies for each person as we check our motives for why we engage online and seek to follow what God has purposed for each of us to do.
When Philippians 2 sinks in that I am to “consider others more significant than myself” and look to their interests above and beyond my own, it changes the lens through which I view the world, including how I engage online. After all, my presence online is merely an extension of my “face-to-face” interactions.
At the 2016 Gathering, we used the language of an “echo” as a way to describe the Christian life. In Christ alone, we echo Christ and what He has done for us. An echo has no originating sound of its own. It simply reflects the sound waves received from its source. Similarly, in Christ alone, our lives reverberate the grace and love God trumpets in our direction. This reverberation affects everything around us everywhere we are – even online.
While only Christ exemplifies true humility, how can we reflect the same mind of our Savior?
I wonder what it would look like if instead of trying to find the perfect lighting with the right people wearing the best facial expressions in the most beautiful setting we were instead consumed with trying to catch other people being an echo of Christ’s humility, of telling the untold story of others, of sharing how we’ve witnessed Christ’s love shining through them.
This is part of the purpose behind the Gathering Exclusive Stories. Media team members dedicated long hours listening to and learning the stories of participants at the Gathering. This photojournalism project provides a way to celebrate God’s work in the lives of His children. It also allowed us to use the gifts God has given us in photography, graphic design, interpersonal communication and writing in a way that considers others more significant than ourselves.
Many of the Psalms recount the work of God in the lives of His people to remind us of God’s love and faithfulness. May our 21st century way of recording what has happened in our lives (social media) also be a reflection of God’s workings for the building up and encouragement of others.
We’ve seen enough misuses of posting online. Instead of turning a blind eye or just rolling our eyes, let’s share a strong echo of Christ’s love as we see it reverberated in and through the lives of others.
How are you an echo?
Note: I know I’m taking a risk here writing a blog about humility. The thing about humility is it never draws attention to itself. As Gathering emcee, Abi Tesfaye, said during the Monday Mass Event, “It’s hard to define humility but you know it when you see it”. As soon as we wonder if we are being humble in a situation, we’ve lost it. However, failing to speak about such an important concept is also not the answer. So, let’s “sin boldly” if we have to in an attempt to grow in humility by the power of the Holy Spirit. Christ has lavishly poured out His love on us. Let’s be echoes.