WWJP – What would Jesus post?

Via Graceworks

Rev Dr Tan Soo-Inn // May 1, 2024, 5:22 pm


Before we press the post button on social media, says Rev Dr Tan Soo-Inn, we need to ask the "why" question: "What are my real motives for posting something?" Photo by camilo jimenez on Unsplash.

I just heard an excellent lecture about social media from Dr Graham Hill. I conclude that many Christians, including myself, are basically ignorant about social media and how it “disciples” us.

We end up being manipulated by those who know how to use the medium, and ignorant of how we can use it for Kingdom work. I learnt so much from the presentation. Let me elaborate on one point.
Have you encountered the term “fame vampire”? Apparently it has been around for some time. This is how Dr Hill defines it:

A “fame vampire” describes a person who gains attention and sustains their public image by draining or exploiting the fame of others. This kind of person might be seen as feeding off the celebrity and recognition of other people, possibly through association or by using others’ accomplishments to boost their own profile. This is someone who thrives by leeching off the fame of others, often overshadowing them or using them for personal gain.

In the context of social media it means posting photos of ourselves with famous people and/or at important events. To what degree am I guilty of this?

What would Jesus have me post? What would Jesus have me not post?

I have posted a few photos of myself with famous evangelical theologian, the late Dr JI Packer. Of course there were many “oohs” and “aahs” from folks. I sometimes let on that I was his student. More “oohs” and “aahs”. Am I a fame vampire?
The answer is complicated. Jim became a dear friend. When I posted photos of myself with him I was posting a picture of two friends who cared for each other. Of course I couldn’t have been completely oblivious of the fact that people now knew that I was a friend of the famous JI Packer.

And, more importantly, why did I post the photo to begin with? It didn’t add anything to my friendship with him. Yes, I was proud to have him as a friend. Did I have to let others know about it?
I post a lot of stuff on Facebook. A large number of my posts are for publicising our ministries. Sometimes I talk about things I like, for instance books, music and movies. Sometimes I post essays on matters of current concern.

Then there are posts that I think are funny, in the hope that they will bring a smile to my friends. And there are the photos of me with famous people and at famous events. I have decided to be more aware of my motives when I post stuff on social media.

In a day and age when so much is in the public eye, I suspect we must recover the spiritual discipline of secrecy.

Before I press the post button I must ask the “why” question. As far as I know, what are my real motives for posting something?

What would Jesus post? What would Jesus have me post? What would Jesus have me not post?
In a day and age when so much is in the public eye, I suspect we must recover the spiritual discipline of secrecy.

The discipline of secrecy goes against the current expectation of our culture. Right now the cultural expectation is for people to share their whole lives with the world. In every social media post or video we create, we want to be valued.

We want people to see our generosity, our kindness, and our support of particular causes. This impulse is exacerbated by but not limited to social media.

The need for public affirmation is close at hand for all of us. We can find it in our telling of stories where we make ourselves the hero or publicly sharing our acts of generosity with friends or a small group. In reality, our desires and actions can be complicated. So much of what we do is a complicated mixture of true generosity and self-centered desire for affirmation. We want to help others, but our hearts are torn by the desire for people to see what we have done.*

I suspect we don’t need the affirmation of others if we know we are loved by God.

Going forward, then, I need to do at least two things: I need to exercise much more care as to what I post and why. And I need to draw closer to the Lord.

*Michael R. Palmer,
This reflection was first published by Graceworks and is republished with permission.


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About the author

Rev Dr Tan Soo-Inn

Rev Dr Tan Soo-Inn is the founding director of Graceworks. Since 1985, he has been journeying with people through his ministry of preaching/teaching, writing and mentoring. Originally trained as a dentist, he answered God's call to go into full-time, church-related ministry in 1981.