Do No Harm -
I wonder as I stalk on Facebook if we United Methodist clergy might have forgotten John Wesley's first simple rule ... do no harm? It appears that we post our thoughts, our responses, our anger, our disappointments, and even what we had for lunch on our Facebook accounts without considering this first simple rule.
I understand that we have rights and we are free to publish anything we desire on our own social media page. But, as clergy, we also are called to holy living and holy serving. We must never forget, no matter how much we don't like it, that people - our people - are looking to us for guidance and direction in a world that is spinning on the crazy axis at times. What we post and the "tone" in which we post it is a witness regardless if we think so or not.
The Apostle Paul reminds us that we are free but also that we must never be a stumbling block for the children of God, our sisters and brothers. We are called, as clergy, to a very important role as shepherd of the sheep of Christ Jesus. We cannot let down that role even if we are sitting behind a computer screen thinking, "this is my opinion." Our opinions, valid though they may be, have the possibility of scattering those sheep or at least causing some to get lost.
Social media is a two-edged sword, in my humble opinion (see, I have one too). It can be used to advance the kingdom of God like never before, and it can divide and destroy the people of God in a click of the send button. We as clergy must be conscious of the power of this tool and of the words we give it. I can hear some of our colleagues now, screaming this my opinion and that this is unfair; regardless, Jesus has called us, and the Church has ordained or commissioned us to be better about what we say and how we say it. We must consider if our words could do harm and, if so, remember Mr. Wesley's rule to do no harm.
Do Good -
What if we forgot our own personal agendas, politics, and other soap boxes, and instead we used our Facebook and other social media avenues to do good? Instead of attacking the President, what if we offered a prayer for the President? Instead of calling out the "other side," we offered an olive branch to see if we could unite in some holy conversations? What if we stopped showing what we ate for lunch and showed the hungry children of North Georgia instead, in order for all of us to do good and work to feed them a lunch?
What if we didn't complain about our day. but instead offered up the good things that happened and give God the glory? Yes, even on Facebook.
I know I'm sounding like a preacher or worse yet a "do-gooder," but, friends, Mr. Wesley asks those called Methodist to do all the good they can. Maybe we could do more good on our social media pages, what do you think?
Stay in love with God -
Well, the final rule is probably the hardest, but in regards to this rule on social media let us never bend God to fit our issues, but always bend you and me to fit into God's call of service and mission. I don't think we need to brag about our spiritual lives on Facebook, but neither should we be ashamed of them. We are Christians, we are God's beloved children; let's express our love to God by living for God even in our social media presence. We honor God in how we treat those we are in fellowship with, even on the computer.
I don't know, friends. I'm just thinking through some of this stuff, but I do know as clergy we need to do better with our posting and to remember that we represent a God of mercy and grace, a God of love and forgiveness. Maybe if we set the standard, the laity will follow?
Oh well, I love each of you. I worry about you, and pray for you every day. Pray for me that I follow the 3 rules better today than I did yesterday.