The Apostle James had great concern for the Jewish Christians to whom he wrote, primarily that they would not be hearers of the Word of God only. Faith without action is dead, he writes. And so it is that if we only hear the Word of God but don’t then apply it to our lives then we evidence a pathetic, dare I say, disingenuous faith. Of course that is a primary concern for us here at Christ and Pop Culture as well. We don’t want to confess Christ is Lord of most of our lives but then when it comes to popular culture disregard him and his commands. This particular point was stressed to me most recently by something that I thoughtlessly wrote on Facebook.
I won’t repeat the insensitive comment here, but the whole occasion reminded me of James 3:1-12 where the apostle describes the power and danger of the tongue. Oddly enough he begins by saying that not many should become pastors because it is hard to control the tongue (the irony is not lost on me). He proceeds to give us some pictures, then, of how something small controls something big (a bit in a horse’s mouth, a rudder on a ship), and finally a picture of how a small spark can start a blazing forest fire. The point being that even though our words are small and our speech seemingly mundane, they are extremely powerful. Facebook has become a visible display of just how powerful words are.
Since my welcome to the world of Facebook, I have seen status updates describing horrible divorces, berating friends who betray trust, extolling the glory of last night’s drunken bash, and pointlessly demeaning others for their political views. These comments may (or may not) all have their place, but are we ready to call that place the public domain that is the World Wide Web? This is especially harmful when your friends, and those of who you offend, can read your status updates.
James’ whole concern is that we be doers of God’s word, which tells us: If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue, but decieves his heart, this person’s religion is worthless (James 1:26). If you can praise God with your mouth one minute and curse your neighbor with it the next what does that say about your worship? This is the very question James asks and one we all need to consider as we update our status. Jesus tells us that out of the treasures of our heart the mouth speaks, so what does your status update say about what’s in your heart?
Now, of course this isn’t meant to be some legalistic statement about how everything you do on Facebook needs to be evangelistic. I suppose my Facebook would say more about my love for coffee than my love for Christ, but nothing we say or write should be thoughtless and without intention, James warns us of the danger. Your status update is like a fire, and it can set a blaze your “whole course of life.”