Instagram is taking over the world, that’s no surprise. There are over 500 million people using IG, over 40 billion total posts, and over 95 million posts per day. Not every middle schooler has one quite yet, but for those who don’t already have it, there’s a great chance that day is coming soon. It is an important part of social interaction these days, so how should we as Christians be using Instagram? What are the dangers of being on Instagram? Does God approve of this social media interaction? Let’s answer some of these questions in this new series: “The Christian’s Guide to Instagram.”
I wanted to kick this series off with one of my biggest pet peeves I witnessed on the photo/video sharing app. I love IG but there are certainly aspects that I do not love - and one aspect that I especially despise most. I witness this happening with many people of the younger generation, and I believe it to be highly destructive for Christianity. What is the worst thing a Christian can do on IG?
A common question of new believers or maybe Christians who are in a spiritual valley is: how can I be assured that I am truly saved, in a relationship with God, and going to Heaven when I die? There are truly many ways to know your salvation is true, and the apostle John shares with us one of those ways in 1 John 2:3-6. In verse three, He says:
“We know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commands.”
If you live as much like Jesus as you possibly can, are focused on glorifying God with your life, and truly strive to keep His commands - you can find assurance that you truly have a relationship with Jesus. If keeping Jesus’ commands is essential to being saved, it’s probably important to know exactly what Jesus commands… He said to remain in Him, let your light shine before men, get rid of what causes you to sin, love your enemies, place God first, and don’t judge others just to name a few of His commands. In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus boils all of the commands simply down to loving God first and secondly loving others before yourself. At the core, this is what it means to “keep His commands.”
But, John continues with incredibly important and sobering words in verse four, when he says,
“Whoever says, ‘I know Him,’ but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.”
Whoever says they’re a Christian, but doesn’t keep Jesus’ commands, by not loving God and not loving others, is a liar and doesn’t actually live in truth. To spiritually claim to be a Christian but to not live like one is a very dangerous and harmful to the Kingdom of God. And this brings me to my most hated thing I see on Instagram. When I see on IG, people putting “God” in their bios (i.e. “GOD FIRST,” prayer hands emoji, “JESUS”), but then their posts are complete sinful garbage and comments tear other people down, use filthy language, etc. - this is tarnishing the name of Jesus. When non-Christians see the trash posted, and come to find out in the bio that the garbage is coming from a Christian - they put those puzzle pieces together and now equate Christians with judgmental jerks who don’t love others, which is the exact opposite of what Jesus wants for us! My Instagram tip for the Christian is this: if you claim it, you better live it!
If you throw God in your IG bio (and you should be proud of Jesus), you better show your network of people how a Christian lives, how a Christian loves God first, and how a Christian loves others. One of the biggest reasons (I've personally seen) for people not wanting to become a Christian in the first place, is not necessarily because of God, but because of Christians they have encountered! If people see Christians as judgmental, self-seeking, people who put others down and don't even have an extra boost of morals - this is a huge turn off!
Are you representing your faith in your bio? If so, is your your Instagram usage pointing towards love of God and love of others - or is it ultimately damaging to the Kingdom? And this has a non-IG application to, right? If you claim Christ with your mouth, does your life reflect that? Make sure on IG and in life, that if you are claiming to trust in the forgiveness Jesus offers, to be a good witness to that claim. Be a good witness for Jesus, ultimately by loving Him and loving others.