Jesus is Lord of Your Facebook Profile, Too | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
September 2010

Jesus is Lord of Your Facebook Profile, Too

By: Ben Simpson

Thanks to the widespread leverage of the Internet our lives can be made public. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and other web-based tools have simplified how we stay connected and have increased our capacity for networking. But these platforms do more than stimulate our relationships; they also reveal to us a great deal about ourselves.

For the past several years I have worked with preteens, teenagers, and young adults. Thanks to Facebook and other web-based tools my ministry with these students has extended beyond a camp or retreat experience. I am able to continue relationships with these persons, and as long as they keep their account active, I am able to keep track of everything from the mundane to the meaningful, staying abreast of every detail from the passing period between classes to the passing on of a close family member. I am able to extend a salutation or an expression of solicitude. These tools are truly amazing.

Aside from staying connected, Facebook, and other electronic media, has enabled me to learn things about people I might not have otherwise known. Through status updates, notes, pictures, musical tastes, movie preferences, and quotations, I am able to glimpse the character of another person. Sometimes it is challenging to delineate between who the person is and the image the person wishes to project, but the content provided on a well developed profile page cannot help but to give a glimpse of a person’s heart.

By observing the lives of teenagers on the web I learned a valuable lesson about integrity and transparency. I came to realize that many of the students with whom I worked represented their lives differently in web space than they did within the context of a small group or a church gathering. They wore different masks depending on their context. This should not come as a surprise. We all inhabit different worlds, and are all tempted to behave in ways that best help us cope in our diverse environments. When this occurs, we do not always recognize our shifting personas, but the Internet can expose our duplicity as a stark reality. The picture found on the web can raise questions about our character.

Take an inventory: after combing through your pictures, your profile information, pages, notes, and your network of friends, what does your public profile say about the type of person you are? Is that something you are proud of? Are you able to identify things you are not proud of? Are there growing edges that can be identified? Ways of life that need to change in order to be more faithful as a follower of Jesus?

These questions may make you uncomfortable. They are supposed to. They make me uncomfortable. An even greater challenge is that life following after Jesus requires more than “image management” on the web. It requires living a life of Christ-like integrity, so that the expressions of your life on the web are an extension of who you are in reality.

I love using social media. I use seven different web-based services to connect with others, share information, and increase my network. Some might say that I’m addicted. I would like to think that I’m engaged. Whatever the case, examining my life in web space can teach me a lot about me--who I am, what I value, and what I desire. Social media opens a window into my soul. And, lest I forget, it is valuable to be reminded that Jesus is Lord even over my life on the web, and so when I peer into that window, it is my hope that what I find there is honoring and pleasing to the One who commands my allegiance.

St. Thomas A’Kempis once wrote, “Whoever wishes to understand fully the words of Christ must try to pattern his whole life on that of Christ.” What a challenge. Does my digital persona match with the person I am in reality, and if so, am I someone whose life gives witness to the pattern of Christ? After thorough examination, may we all be able to say “Yes,” and “Yes.”

Question for Discussion: In what ways do social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and Blogs give testimony to who we are as followers of Jesus?

See more devotions from Ben and our other Young Adult writers, or find our how you can become a writer yourself at our By Young Adults for Young Adults devotion page.