“Not many should become teachers, my brothers, because you know that we will receive a stricter judgment.” – James 3:1
Have you ever had to give a presentation at work? The pressure of presenting something to our peers and colleagues can be quite daunting. It pales in comparison, though, to the weight a Christian should feel when opening up God’s Word to teach it.
This weight is not unfounded but rather Biblically rooted. In James chapter 3 there is a clear warning put forth for all of those who would place themselves in the role of teacher of God’s Word. Teachers of God’s Word will be judged with a greater strictness.
It is a warning like this that leads most Christians to shy away from opportunities to preach, teach, or proclaim God’s Word. This warning provides just enough deterrent that one gives pause, thinks, discerns, and then usually relents from that teaching opportunity. Most Christians even avoid discipleship relationships with people younger in the faith than them, simply because they believe that they don’t know enough to lead or teach someone else in the faith.
Being under the authority of God and His subsequent judgment for the things we teach about God’s Word should strike a righteous fear and weight within us. It is a healthy thing to have a right fear of God. In fact, we know that is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).
Christians will have to stand before God and give an account for every sermon, lesson, blog, YouTube video, and social media post in which they used the Word of God to educate and/or inform.
Some questions to consider before posting:
What is a teacher of God’s Word?
The obvious answers are not usually up for debate: Pastors, Elders, Sunday School Leaders, basically anyone who gets up in front of people and teaches God’s Word. What about the less obvious teachers? Why would social media posts be considered teaching?
Teaching is when we take information and present it to an audience with the intent to educate or inform, influencing them to a desirable action. On social media, we are ALL becoming teachers of something. Each post, whether spiritual, political, social, or comical, is put out there with an intent to a desirable action.
Each of us has an audience. On Facebook our audience members are called “friends” or “groups.” On Instagram and Twitter, they are literally called your “followers.” People who are popular on Instagram are called “Influencers.”
With every post and usage of God’s Word on social media, you will be judged with a greater strictness before God. This ought to give us pause. This ought to increase our wisdom and discernment before we post. If you were asked to preach or teach on Sunday or teach a lesson to the youth or children of your church, you wouldn’t approach that opportunity as flippantly as we do many times with social media. Yet we will be judged in the same way before God.
Whose authority is your social media account under?
Your knee jerk answer to that question might be, “No one! Freedom of speech. You can’t censor me.” But when it comes to using God’s Word in your posts the answer needs to be different.
What might give us pause in teaching a lesson at church is the fact that we know we are under the authority of God, God’s Word, and the local leadership of our church. We know that whatever we teach will be judged by God, tested by the Word, and corrected or affirmed by the pastors and fellow saints.
Would you say your personal social media account is under the lordship of Jesus? Does your social media account bring God glory? We are commanded to do all as unto the Lord (1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:23). All includes social media.
Another way to form a healthy view of being under the authority of the local church is to join and serve in the local church. Let me be clear, if you are not a member of a local faithful Christian church, yet you want to be an authority, teach, and proclaim God’s Word on social media, STOP! You are in danger of making a shipwreck of your faith.
Join a local church. Be under the authority of biblically qualified elders/pastors, who will keep watch over your soul and doctrine. Next, start serving in the local church. Start discipling believers younger in the faith than you. It is amazing (in a bad way) how many people share their religious or biblical views to the masses on social media yet refuse to walk in relationship with a younger believer. When you walk with, mentor, and teach real people it produces tact, wisdom, discernment, and accountability for what you say and how you say it. Couldn’t we all use more of that?
Does your social media account faithfully interpret God’s Word?
Would you say your social media account faithfully interprets God’s Word? Would you say your social media account faithfully applies God’s Word? There is a method called proof-texting that is a common approach to God’s Word. Proof-texting is when the person has an agenda/point of view that they use Bible verses out of context to make it sound like the Bible agrees with their point. When we proof-text the Bible to fit our agenda, then we are tickling our own ears and the ears of others who think and believe like us (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
How do you know that you are not proof texting and misinterpreting the Bible and thus leading others astray with your teaching? Would you say that your personal social media account is under the authority of faithful church leadership? If your pastor came to you in love and rebuked you from the Bible about your social media posts, would you take them down? Would you repent and seek to change?
Pastors, are you following your church members’ accounts? When they have unfaithful interpretations of the Bible, are you correcting them?
Every time you use the Bible or Christianity in your social media posts you are a reflection on your local congregation/pastors, the Bible, and God. Take it seriously. Be under authority. Proceed with caution and fear. Get it right. Post in love and care for others. Or don’t post at all.