This week on Women of the Table we discussed sensationalism. What it means, how it affects our lives, what implications it has on sharing the Gospel, and the like. What this article will touch on are not those things, but how we should respond to these questions: what are we to do now? Are we to ditch social media altogether? Should we never share another article of information with a sensational headline?
First, I want to remind us all that we have a story that is worthy of all our attention and more sensational (in the good sense of the word) than any fleeting, manipulative, news story could be. We have the Gospel.
Imagine with me for a moment: you’re scrolling through Facebook and something has gone viral! Hundreds of thousands of shares, likes and comments. You see a torture device as the photo and the headline says: only Begotten Son of God crucified by, and for, sinners. Now that is a sensational headline.
Consider it further, we have a TRUE account that is greater than all the sensational tactics and click-bait articles combined. We have a message that isn’t just for one political party line, a specific nation, a certain type or age – it’s relevant for everyone, because everyone will be held accountable for their rebellion against the Creator and Lord. Everyone needs the Savior to remedy our sin problem.
Now, let’s examine a trustworthy source to find the answers to our previously presented questions:
In a time when God was laying the foundation of His Church, by the Holy Spirit led Apostles and Prophets, we see the Apostle Paul approaching an audience that bears similarities to our own. An audience that had no shortage of gods, philosophies, and new ideas. In Acts 17:16-34 we see Paul disturbed at the idols in Athens, and therefore he goes and reasons with the Jews, the worshipers, and those that were in the marketplace – anyone that happened to be there. What was he reasoning with them about? Verse 18 says, “he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.” Upon hearing these truths they brought him to the Areopagus, where the Areopagus council would discuss religion and philosophy – of which they were the governing body. This led to them hearing the truth of the Gospel, some responding in mockery and some responding in faith.
“When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some began to mock him, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this topic.” At that, Paul left the Areopagus. But some people joined him and believed, including Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others who were with them.” (Acts 17:32-34)
Paul didn’t change his story based on how it would be perceived. He didn’t cower under the Areopagus council’s inquiries. He wasn’t blown back by the pervasive search for the hottest take or newest ideas in Athens. He saw their idol worship and was moved to dialogue. He reasoned and presented the truth of the Gospel.
With this in mind:
1. Should we ditch social media?
When I reread this account of Paul in Athens, I see him approaching the place where ideas are exchanged. The hotbed of ideas and religion and also the place for everyone to gather: the marketplace. While our culture has certainly changed from commonly dialoguing ideas out in the public common areas (because we don’t have public common areas anymore), we can still take this principle and apply it to our culture today. Sadly, but truly, our biggest common area is on social media. We see people plaster their opinions, share what they find important, and even are updated with news on this platform. So, if you are in possession of a social media account, share the Gospel while you have it. Be willing to dialogue with logic, and gentleness, seeking to win souls not arguments. I will also say however, once they started mocking Paul, he left. You don’t have to entertain abuse and there is a block button if you so wish to use it 🙂
I say to use social media as a Gospel opportunity, not to the detriment of personal evangelism – in real life, to a real face. We should be opening our homes and our lives, to those who need the Gospel. As great as social media can be at posting whatever you want – you know from our episode – there is such an overwhelming amount of information, with lots of hype, that many of our attempts to share the truth may be filed away in the reader’s special filing cabinet (the mental trash can). So be welcoming, friendly, and engage with people in real life. Don’t worry if you have a lack in social skills, because social media has dulled us all in that arena.
2. Should we never share another sensational headline?
Now as much as click-bait grinds the gears of any reasonable person, studies have shown that it works. People are going to click on the sensational headline. This is just how the world operates now. While all the media outlets are competing for your attention and your click, you will see more and more sensational headlines. However, Paul writes to the Philippian church something that I think is helpful in answering this question:
“Let your gentleness be apparent to all. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)
We know that the Lord is near, so we must be gentle, anxious for nothing, prayerful, and full of thanksgiving. No matter the headline, we can have peace. If you want to share the headline, share it, but don’t forget to share that you have an unfailing hope. Preface your share with a note of thankfulness to God. Be gentle in your sharing and your commentary on a topic. We want to encourage dialogue and reasoning in an age where we have all become keyboard warriors. Once we have opened the door to dialogue, by our kindness, we can truly share the sensational hope we have in Christ. A hope that doesn’t change in circumstance, news story, or with popular culture’s ideas.
I know that this approach to sharing is not the most natural, nor am I the shining example. So, with my own “hot-take” in this article, I say that Christ has given us a hope that won’t stay hidden. He will advance and grow His church. Our small acts of faithfulness can be used by Him.
I pray that as you go about your common places you preach Christ and His resurrection, the need for repentance and faith in Christ alone for right standing before God.