4 drawbacks to sharing our faith on social media

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Have you ever had the experience of someone telling you a story several times over and it got better and better each time? Often it's not because you realise something about it that you didn't the first, second or tenth time, but because with each retelling they've enhanced the good bits and have almost erased the uncomfortable truths.

You may also have found yourself romanticising or embellishing an experience when you've relayed it to others. We can get so caught up in the highlights that we overlook the trials and challenges that were part of the process because we're so full of joy about what's happened to us and we want others to feel the same.

But these darker moments shouldn't be discarded in a bid to tell a good news story, instead they should remain to give an honest account and illustrate just why the light at the end of the tunnel was made that much brighter.

This seemingly benign manipulation of the truth can sometimes characterise sound bite Christianity, or the sharing of scriptural extracts to encourage people see the Christian faith in a positive light.

It's great that church leaders and celebs like Justin Bieber use Instagram and other social media platforms to share Bible verses, but snapshots of the Christian faith do have some drawbacks.

There's no obvious next step – More than 1.4 million Instagram users might have liked Bieber's "Be still and know that I am God" post but how many of them knew anything substantial about the God to which it referred? And how many of them knew where to go to find out more?

The context is lost – Yes, standalone verses can be insightful and effective but if you're engaging with Christianity for the first time or have very little understanding of the faith, then the true meaning behind solitary Bible verses has a higher potential to be lost or misinterpreted completely.

There's no follow up – If someone does happen to be inspired, encouraged or enlightened by a social media soundbite, or any other form of brief excerpt, it doesn't necessarily mean that they know where to go to act on their feelings. And the person who shared the piece of Scripture may not be a source of recurring spiritual guidance or elaborate on the significance of the information that they've shared.

Skewed view of God and Christianity– If someone is always shown the highlights, then their interpretation of who God is and what it means to be a Christian is going to be heavily skewed. Yes, being a Christian is the best but it's not a candyfloss life, and if we're serious about bringing people to know God for real, then we should do everything to ensure that we're presenting them with a realistic representation of Him - and life following Him.

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