The Apostle Paul had been through a very difficult time. Circumstances and trials can be down-right hard to experience and difficult to understand. But as Paul reflected on his stressful situation, he picked up his ‘pen’ and wrote:

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere. 2Corinthians 2:14

After Paul was apprehended on the Damascus Road, he quickly understood God’s purpose for him in life. He was to spread the exquisite fragrance of Christ and the knowledge of God.

That’s the Christian’s primary purpose on earth. Spreading. Diffusing.

The closer we are to the fragrance the stronger the scent will be. The closer people get to us – the sweeter the fragrance of Christ should become. The closer they follow my posts on Facebook and other interactions on social media, the sweeter the fragrance of Christ should be.

But what am I spreading?

As people see the posts I have liked or shared are they getting a more positive impression of Christianity? Am I whetting the appetites of others to come to Christ? Or am I spreading things that cause people and other Christians to want to block me or defriend me or unfollow me?

In addition to the unconverted – fellow-believers themselves are thinking differently about other believers based on what is being shared on Facebook. Harm is being done. Wedges are being created. Negative feelings are intensifying.

Does this worry you?

The character of some posts being shared is often at odds with the beautiful Bible verse the same Christian will share in their next post. Readers who are not Christians see this as further proof of hollow evangelism. They see the disconnect or even the hypocrisy.

If my primary daily source of news and views is coming from Facebook, then I am being exposed to a lop-sided and exaggerated view of what’s going on in our world. That’s why I am so uptight. That’s why I am feeling anxious as I speed-read the posts. My emotions are being played and its a deliberate money-making strategy.

Facebook algorithms are designed to push stuff into your daily feed that you might favour, based on other things you have been reading or liking online. Driven by profit, these social media giants seek to increase their revenue by engaging more viewers with emotionally charged content, who in turn share this content with their friends, and their emotions are then stirred.

Growth for Facebook, yes; but more emotional intensity for you – and for others, if you spread it.

If you see a post that alarms you or riles-you-up or creates a powerful impulse to share it – that’s the first warning sign that maybe you shouldn’t. Before you swallow it for real, check three credible media sources to see if it is even legitimate or true. Do not only check the one news outlet you favour. If the three sources lend credibility to it, then your next Christian duty is to pass the test below before spreading it to others:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about AND SHARE (inserted) these things. Philippians 4:8

Is it true? Early this summer a graphic posted on Facebook went viral. It claimed that not one employee in the United States working at Walmart, Target, Kroger (misspelled Kroeger in the FB post), and Costco (misspelled Cosco in the FB post) had contracted COVID-19 even though these essential-service stores remained open to the public. Based on news reports (the FB post claimed) not even one employee tested positive. But it was a blatantly false post. Not only had many employees tested positive, but a number had also died by that point in time in April 2020. In fact, some locations became epicenters for COVID19 and had to be shut down.

“As we steward the power of our influence through every Facebook post and every retweet, we should remember that we’re not following Jesus’ command to be “wise as serpents” if we’re swayed by the emotional manipulation of a conspiracy theory or a slickly-produced video. And we’re not “harmless as doves” if we spread misinformation or sow confusion in the midst of a global health emergency” (source)

No Moon Landing

People who shun commonly accepted facts in the news and gravitate to a narrow field of thinking that supports their strong feelings, often find themselves believing things that are false. As many as 32 million Americans today do not believe astronauts from their country ever landed on the moon. What I watched with my own eyes in 1969, these people believe was nothing more than deep-state doctored imagery to triumph over Russia’s progress in the 1960s.

Flat Earth

6,560,000 Americans do not believe our planet is round. (Statistics for other countries not readily available.) These people believe the earth is flat and most of these ‘believers’ are religious. They distrust science.  The founder of their annual conference claims to be a born-again Christian. The number is growing – not shrinking.

I sound this cautionary note – to protect ourselves, our families, and the fellowship from being influenced by wrong things and creating division among believers and damaging the cause of Christ in a world that desperately needs Him. If you find yourself fixating on something every time you go online – that’s not normal. Hebrews 12:2 is the Christian norm.

1988 Rapture

It wouldn’t be the first time Christians were swept-up in things they read or watched. I am old enough to remember Christians I knew who were swept-up in the fearmongering and Rapture date-setting fiasco back in 1988.

A former NASA engineer and Bible student predicted the rapture would occur in September 1988, 32 years ago. He published two books. 300,000 copies were mailed free of charge to ministers and preachers. 4.5 million copies were sold. The author made a far-fetched claim: “Only if the Bible is in error am I wrong.”  That one statement alone should have canceled everything else he said – but it didn’t.

As the date approached, regular programming on a well-known Christian broadcasting network (still around today) was interrupted to provide special instructions on final preparations for the rapture.

Dear Child of God – be careful of what is influencing your thinking and intensifying your views on a variety of things – as you sit at your computer or watch the news. Just because it comes from a ‘Christian-friendly’ source – does not guarantee it is right or reliable.

Some Christians are offended by what other believers are posting and sharing, liking, and commenting on online.  It seems that Christians or devoutly religious people may be more susceptible to conspiracy theories.

One online resource to check out the truth in stories is snopes.com. It has been debunking false stories in the news since 1994 – for over 25 years. And there are other fact-checking sites that could be listed. All have their shortcomings. But as a Christian, the Bible provides an excellent and authoritative decision-making grid for us to use before we spread or share something we’ve seen or heard.  Here it is again:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about AND SHARE (inserted) these things. Philippians 4:8

Today, to encourage you to fix your eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ, enjoy this rendition of Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.

Walk carefully and closely with the Lord today,

Warmly in Christ
Peter Ramsay

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