It’s apparent social media plays a pretty big role in modern society. It’s how we connect, voice our opinions, share personal moments, and to some it has become another means of weight upon the shoulders of the body of Christ. It has become a yoke of heavy burden, just like that of the Pharisees, because if you didn’t put it on Facebook it never happened. Let me explain.
Let me begin by saying this article is a combination of my wife’s idea about “if it’s not on Facebook, it didn’t happen,” Frank Viola’s discussion on the Christian expectation, and my own expounding. It’s like they all got mooshed together into this article.
Last year at the DCLN Conference Frank Viola discussed the concept of the weight of Christian expectation. He discussed how there is an expectation for Christians to:
- Pray daily
- Read the bible daily
- Go to church
- No secular music
- No tattoos
- Must tithe
- Pray over every meal
- Vote republican
- Only have one tv
- Home school your children
- Only G or PG movies
- No alcohol
The illustration he made was that you had a backpack on and each of these was written on a bowling ball and assigned varying weights. Trying to keep up with each of these would get heavy… fast.
If you replace “the law” with these Christian expectations you will see we are still trying to earn God’s favor through our actions, rather than living by Christ’s life. (You can hear this full message on Galatians in 3D, when you join the Deeper Christian Life Network).
Of course not everyone believes exactly the same, but the Christian expectation can become weighty putting all these burdens on your shoulders.
Today I want to expand on this concept and talk about the Christian expectation of doing good. Today, the Christian is expected to:
- Give to foreign missions
- Give to the homeless
- Give to the pastor appreciation
- Support the Youth group fundraiser for camp
- Protest at abortion clinics
- Give to Awanas
- Volunteer in the nursery, but not miss a single service
- Support the young boys and/or girls ministries at your local church
- Make every prayer meeting and stay from beginning to end
- Go preach on the street corner and evangelize door to door
- Go work at the soup kitchen
- Give to domestic missions
- Volunteer at the hospital and nursing home
- Lead a small group at your house
- Personally disciple a minimum of 2.6 people
- Never say a cuss word, over react, get angry, or be human
Don’t forget you have to work all of this around your normal full time work schedule, have your kids in at least 3.4 different extra curricular activities, and maintain a spotless Chip and Joanna style home.
Add on top of this expectation, you are expected to post no less than 4.7 selfies, 2 regular posts, and at least 41 seconds of video of you doing all of these things. Not one…all of them. Because we all know that if it’s not on Facebook it didn’t really happen, and if you only did one or two you have failed.
And if you don’t fulfill a Christian pet peeve (listed above) of one of your brothers or sisters in Christ, get ready for a smack down of epic proportions.
If you haven’t figured it out already, this list is meant to be semi-satire. I say semi- because it can feel as though this is the real expectation of Christians many times. Fellow Christians most often place this burden upon the shoulders of each other, rather than being placed there by the Lord, or even the world.
There are two points to this article.
First, we have to stop placing such an unbearable burden on each other. Yes, some will volunteer regularly at a soup kitchen, while others are at abortion clinics. Others will evangelize door to door (planting), while others disciple (watering) (1 Cor. 3). Some will preach from stages, while others only preach through the actions in their homes.
Each part of the body plays a different function and a different role. We can’t get upset at the foot for not hearing properly. Here’s how Paul puts it.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good…. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. – 1 Corinthians 12:4-7;14-26
If we gave to every need, volunteered for everything, went to every event, and tried to balance this with family and work schedules, you would be run ragged and financially broke from giving to every need and fundraiser…Oh wait many Christians are, because they feel the pressure to meet this heavy burden of expectation. Many Christians are also leaving the church each year because they feel like they can’t live up to this expectation.
Many people give up on the church each year because they get “burned” or “hurt” by the church, and most of those instances are from failing to live up to this crushing expectation.
The second point of this article is this. When we begin posting on Facebook about how we are fulfilling this expectation, it becomes more about feeding our ego than feeding the hungry.
Social media plays a very powerful role in sharing praise reports and getting people involved in a cause, but there are some aspects of ministry and doing good that don’t need to be shared on social media. Here are Christ’s own words on the matter:
Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. – Matthew 6:1-5
There are many things that my wife and I (and many others in the body) do that are never broadcast across social media. Even in that believing we are doing it in a better, we can become self-righteous in which case we must be mindful and careful.
Now, before anyone says I’m saying don’t do any of these things, let me say this, I agree with Edmund Burke,
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Let’s just do good because as Christ followers that is what we are called to do. We are called to bring heaven to earth and be ambassadors for the Kingdom of Heaven. Don’t do it out of obligation or for social media likes. Do it out of a desire to do so because the Lord has compelled you to.
You don’t have to do it all, but do something. You don’t have to give to every cause, but give to something. Focus on the essential few things that the Lord has burdened you for and equipped you for, and don’t be burdened down with trying to live up to the Christian expectation.