And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; Acts 17:6.
I’ve had this article qued up for over seven months. I figure its about time I write it. I just did a podcast on it anyway so why not take the plunge? I fear for Christianity in this country. Not the largely pseudo-Christianity currently being eaten alive by social justice though we’ve actively fought that. No this is withing actual orthodox Christianity and is done, relatively subconsciously, by people who are doctrinally orthodox. What I see happening, and have been guilty of myself to an extent, is Christian virtue signaling.
What do I mean when I say “Christian virtue signaling”? I mean the act of making a public statement about an issue, then not backing up the statement with actions. This is amplified, perhaps even caused, by social media. It is easy to put a statement out on an issue, which many of your followers will agree with and will get you lots of applause. And, since most of them are nowhere near you, they can never verify if you practice what you preach.
I will illustrate this by pointing to the recent “Wayfair trafficking” trend on twitter. A bunch of people noticed some oddly named items on the Wayfair website, that also had odd pricing. Turns out the names matched some missing children. From there, the conspiracy theories took off, resulting in thousands of tweets, many of them tagging Wayfair. Wayfair immediately deleted the items and put out a statement saying nothing was going on. Now obviously I have no idea who is right but that’s not the point of the illustration. The point is, rather than the people who noticed the strange stuff going on simply shutting up and taking whatever evidence they had to their local law enforcement and the FBI, they got on twitter about it and announced it to the world. If Wayfair was involved in trafficking kids, the kids whose names were tied to the major products are probably dead. Getting on twitter and tweeting about it was highly counterproductive. It allowed Wayfair (if it was doing anything nefarious), a chance to cover their tracks and eliminate any unpleasant evidence…potentially including the kids they might, maybe, have been trafficking.
Taking this analogy and applying it to Christian statements on social media, we can learn a lot. How often do we see statements like “Abortion is murder” or “Homosexuality is wrong” or “Social justice is not justice” on the social media of Christians. Now those are good statements and I agree with all of them. However, are those statements on social media worth anything? To a certain extent the answer is yes. It is important to articulate a strong defense of Biblical truths, even on social media…but it should not stop there.
Now we come back to the verse we posted at the head of the article. When the Jews of Thessalonica heard the message of the Gospel, most of them rejected it and stirred up the city against the Christians. Notice their choice of words “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also”. They are attributing to Christians, the complete changing of how the culture worked. Why? Because Christianity was radically different from the partying, fornicating, self- indulging lifestyle the Gentile nations were used to. They practiced self-denial and abstinence as well as preaching and teaching that there was one God, not many. This was an upside down world to the Gentiles.
Our world is not that much different than that of the Gentiles. Licentious living is very common and the world does not know what to do with those who do not indulge. Christians stand out. But the church is not turning the world upside down now. Why is that? I would argue because most Christians really are not that wildly different than the culture. They express the right beliefs on social media and they attend doctrinally sound churches, but they do not put feet to their faith. The book of James makes it clear that faith that does not produce works is dead. Yet, for many Christians, their actions stop with a tweet.
Hear me out, social media posts are good. But social media posts do little to move the needle in real life. We need to be active outside the social media world in proclaiming the Gospel and standing for what we believe. That may look different to different people. For some, it may mean sidewalk counseling outside the local infanticide mill. Others it may mean giving money to help fund an ultrasound clinic for women who are considering abortion. Or it may mean volunteering time to help reach people at a rescue mission or nursing home. I guarantee, unless you’re in a megachurch, your pastor could use your help with something. So, fellow Christian, it’s time to engage. Put the social media down for a while and start putting feet to your faith. Virtue signaling will not win a culture that hates virtue. But the Gospel does have that power.
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