By Jeff Mingee
Titus faced a difficult task as he established, ordered and led the church in Crete. He was surrounded by false teachers and difficult people. In fact, according to one of their own, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12). Sounds a lot like Twitter, right?
As Paul opened up his letter to young Titus, he offered some words of encouragement and direction. These words can help guide believers as they navigate the terrain of social media. Here are five reminders believers can apply to their social media habits.
1. Remember your identity. (Titus 1:1)
Paul opened this short letter, “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ” (Titus 1:1). While this introductory wording is common throughout Paul’s epistles, we ought to remember that “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16). So what are we to learn and for what good work are we preparing?
Slavery and stewardship. Those two themes spring from Paul’s first words here. He saw himself as a slave to God and as an apostle tasked with stewarding the message of Jesus Christ.
Christian, those two themes ought to govern your social media habits. You too are a slave to God. You’ve been bought with a price (1 Cor 6:20). You’ve been transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son (Col 1:13). And you have been given a gospel to steward (2 Cor 4:7). Your social media practices ought to be faithful reflections of that gospel and of God’s good ownership of you. When you log on and begin to scroll and when Facebook offers you that prompt to post, “What’s on your mind…” remember your identity.
Your social media practices ought to be faithful reflections of that gospel and of God’s good ownership of you.
2. Remember your purpose. (Titus 1:1)
Paul describes his apostleship as being “for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness” (Titus 1:2). This letter had purpose. Paul shot his arrow with a clear bullseye in sight and a steady hand on the bow.
Christian, if we were to survey your social media habits, what would we conclude is your purpose? Is it entertainment? Is it to avoid what you should be working on? Is it a mindless retreat from an otherwise mentally taxing life? Perhaps we would see the many politically divisive posts and conclude that social media is all about politics.
Every word in this short letter is marked by Paul’s purpose to encourage the faith of God’s people. Every word in your social media ought to have a similar purpose. No pointless words. No wayward arrows. Remember your purpose.
3. Remember your hope. (Titus 1:2-3)
As Paul opened this letter to young Titus, he quickly reminded Titus of the “hope of eternal life” (Titus 1:2). Ministry on Crete would require a great deal of hope and a tethered commitment to remain within eyesight of that hope. Titus couldn’t afford to forget this hope. Neither can you.
Christian, if you are going to make an impact for Christ, you must remember this hope. You must be settled in your conviction that this is the hope which “God, who never lies, promised before the ages began” (Titus 1:2). Our hope is not wishful thinking but a confident expectation that God will keep the promises he’s made. And we must remember that this hope has been clearly and sufficiently revealed in Scripture (Titus 1:3). We do not need to, or have the authority to, create it.
Let your social media activity be marked by this hope. Let every Tweet be posted in light of our promise-making and promise-keeping God. Let your assurance be so settled in God’s promise that you are free from the desire to divisively attack others. Remember your hope.
4. Remember your relationships. (Titus 1:4)
Paul addressed this letter to “Titus, my true child in a common faith” (Titus 1:4). Before he laid on Titus the weight of leadership, Paul reminded him of the camaraderie of the faith. The commands would come soon enough. Here the apostle offers the comfort of relationship.
In contrast to the false teachers which plagued Titus and his ministry, Paul calls him “my true child.” This is a relationship that was real. They shared a common faith that united them. No matter the congregational conflict Titus would endure, he could know that he had Paul in his corner.
In a digital world in which Facebook Friends and Twitter followers can have only a passing connection, we need to remember our relationships. We need the sanctifying work of God through the community of the church. Christian, don’t allow online praise to crowd out in-person fellowship. Remember your relationships.
Christian, don’t allow online praise to crowd out in-person fellowship.
5. Remember your role. (Titus 1:4)
Paul closes this introduction with the common phrase, “Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior” (Titus 1:4). With these words Paul remembered his role: he was a conduit of grace and peace to Titus. He would remind Titus of the gospel. Paul remembered that he was a steward of the gospel, not the creator of the gospel.
Christian, remember your role in social media. You are to be salt and light. You are to be the city on the hill. The digital world is one in which you can make a real impact for Christ. But you must remember your role.
Paul’s short letter to Titus offered him hope and strength for the task of ministry in Crete. But it also offers us guidance as we minister in a digital world and on digital platforms. So, as you engage in social media remember “the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 1:11-14).