Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Facebook - a good thing or a bad thing?

By JIM ARMSTRONG

The medium of social networking has taken the on-line community on a journey most would never have imagined. Twenty years ago, when we started to discover the Internet on our dial up connections, little did we know just how much could be done and accessed from a PC anywhere in the world.

Our reach and influence, as a result of applications like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, etc., is extensive. They are a window into what we think is important and what we spend our time on - a window which means our lives are on public display all the time.

So, is this a good thing or a bad thing? Before I attempt to answer this question let me pick up on the dangers. There are two key risks. The first is a matter of personal testimony and its effectiveness and the second is about associations and the damage these can do.

Personal Testimony
There is nothing more damaging to Christianity than someone saying they are a follower of the Lord Jesus but their life and pursuits tell a very different story. Each of us has a great opportunity to witness for Christ every day by what we do and what we say. Unfortunately, if our hearts and minds are on other things we will be just like the salt that in Matthew chapter 5 had lost its saltinesss. If I am living for self, it is not my Facebook page that is the problem. If my ambitions are elsewhere my page will simply reflect this. Perhaps my page is more honest than the life I try to show when I attend meetings!

Associations
For any individuals seeking to live for Christ and using Facebook, this is a key area that needs constant attention. Anyone I have as a 'friend' has access to my home page. They could leave an unsavoury photograph or comment and this is there for others to see and read. Three things are important in relation to this :
i) I control who my friends are on my page
ii) I can delete anything that I do not agree with
iii) The privacy and control settings on Facebook allow me to restrict what can be done

If you are using Facebook make sure you are familiar with your page security and workings. Also check your page at least daily and remove anything that may damage your testimony.

So what are the good points about Facebook?
As you read this article you may be asking yourself this same question! Let me take you back to Matthew chapter 5 verse 16, 'Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven'.

If there was ever a day where this world needs to see individuals allowing Christ to shine through their lives it is the day in which we live. If the lost and needy of this world see Jesus in my life, in my words, in my ambitions, in my Facebook page this is a good thing, not a bad thing.

Over the last year or so I have used Facebook for personal witness and evangelism. It has allowed my to fulfill the following :
For meething we hold in our assembly, I can invite as many as 200 each time to the meeting. In some meetings where others have taken up the invite and passed them on, as many as 500 have been given a personal invite.
It has allowed me to make contact with past friends and witness to them using verses and personal invites to things. It also allows me to endorse my witness to colleagues at work as they read my page and see the things I am involved in.
It allows me to quote God's word on their page on a regular basis. If we believe that faith comes through the word, I can't think of anything more valuable.

Over the last year I know of scores of people who have attended my assembly as a direct result of invites to meetings through Facebook.

So let me go back to the question. Is Facebook/social networking a good thing of a bad thing? The answer will depend on your viewpoint. If you are leading a double life, I think it is a very bad thing - it allows you to further damage your testimony. If you are unsure of the technology and how social networking works you should probably avoid it. If you are comfortable with how Facebook works and you are seeking to witness where you can, it is a powerful medium that allows you to 'let your light shine before men'.

Reference : Armstrong, J., 2011. Facebook - a good thing or a bad thing?. Precious Seed International, 66 (1), p.22

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