In this 4-part series we ask, “How would Jesus conduct himself on social media?” Listen to this adaptation of Jesus’ most famous teaching — Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7) — applied directly to our online interactions.

TRANSCRIPT: Matthew 6:1 – 7:12 The Message [my adaptations in brackets]

6 “Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater [and get clicks], but the God who made you won’t be applauding. 2-4 “When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself [by posting it on your homepage or Tweeting it]. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure —‘playactors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and [social media] alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone [will notice and comment], playing to the crowds [counting the “likes”]. They get [“likes” and comments], true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks [on social media]. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out. 

5 “And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people [on Facebook] making a regular show out of their prayers [other religious activities], hoping for [more web traffic]! Do you think God sits in a box seat? 

6 “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role- play before God [on social media]. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace…. 

7 1-5 “Don’t [use social media to] pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s [Facebook page] and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than- thou part [with your tweets and posts] instead of just living your part. Wipe [or delete] that ugly sneer [or rant] off your own face[book page], and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor [or online nemesis]. 

6 “Don’t be flip with the sacred. Banter and silliness give no honor to God. Don’t reduce holy mysteries to slogans [and Christian bumper sticker cliches and memes]. In trying to be relevant, you’re only being cute and inviting sacrilege. Don’t [paste] what is holy on people’s [pages] who are unholy [and unreceptive to spiritual things]. Don’t throw your pearls [and treasured convictions] before [social media] swine! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you [with their own strong opinions]…. 

12 “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior [on social media]: Ask yourself how you want others to treat you, then grab the initiative and do the same for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get…. 

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