This past October 4th, Facebook announced that “there are more than one billion people using Facebook actively each month.” I am one of them and I suspect that if you are reading this blog post, you are too.
There is a lot of great things about Facebook and other social media outlets such as Twitter, YouTube, and so on. But as users, we should realize that every status update is an extension of who we are as a person. Though our social persona is likely not a complete portrayal of who we are, our social persona does say something about who we are!
The question then is what does our social persona say about who we are?
If people were to open our Facebook pages, read through all of our comments, look at the pictures we upload, observe the groups we belong too and the pages we like… Who would they understand us to be? What sort of conclusions might they draw about who we are as people?
This is an important question to ask for those of us who call ourselves “Christian.” The book of First Peter reminds us that we are called to holiness. Twice, we are commanded to “be holy” because God is holy (1:15-16). Additionally we are described as a “holy priesthood” (2:5) and a “holy nation” (2:9).
Well, we could ask whether our social persona conveys that we are a holy people or not. However, apart from a very long discussion on the nature of holiness, such a question seems a bit nebulous at this point. But there is another idea spoken of twice in First Peter regarding the holy identity of Christians. In 1 Peter 1:17, we are told to live our lives in reverence during the “time of [our] exile” (NRSV, ESV) which is an adjectival phrase marking our sojourn as foreigners among the world. In 1 Peter 2:11, we are spoken of as “foreigners and exiles”.*
That raises the real question and challenge for us. Does our social persona depict us as foreigners among the world?
If people were to open our Facebook pages, read through all of our comments, look at the pictures we upload, observe the groups we belong too and the pages we like… Will people get the sense that there is something very different about us or would we appear to mirror one of the many nations and tribes of this world, or one of the many sub-cultures within the world?
That is a challenge. It is a challenge to me and it should be a challenge to you and everyone else who professes the Christian faith. Are we the church of foreigners?
* In the Greek NT, there is a much more clear delineation as 1 Pet 1:17 uses the adjective cognate (paroikia) of the noun (paroikos) that is used in 1 Pet 2:11.