Some few weeks back, a preacher was reported in the dailies to have said that social media is a gift from the devil. Many people resorted to laughing at the statement and jeering at the person who made the statement, to them the statement was made out of ignorance and blind religion. When I heard of the statement I knew it must have come from a Conservative preacher. A preacher in the Charismatic fold isn’t likely to utter such. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against Conservatives, I like to see myself as a Conservative-Charismatic. Let’s take a look at the preacher’s statement, but before then I’d like you to meet the Conservative-Charismatic me.
As a Christian, the Charismatic congregation is the one I enjoy the most. Though the Charismatic movement is different from the Pentecostal movement yet it is very difficult to actually distinguish the Charismatics from the Pentecostals, in commenting on this issue of difference between the two Wikipedia said one main difference is STYLE. Charismatic gatherings have that business approach to the gospel, from their posh names to the serene venues, manner of worship and sweet speaking ministers. In a Charismatic gathering you feel welcome. With flowers adorning the pulpits and the vibrant pastors moving from one corner of the sanctuary to another unhindered in their trendy suits that give bankers a run for their money, you also feel the class and glamour. If nothing, you enjoy the theatrics. For me, I love the word exposition in Charismatic gatherings.
Conservatives believe it should be done the old way, because the old path is the true path. Conservatives don’t really believe in spicing up the word – just give it out raw! Charismatics on their part love to simplify the word. I have heard my father in the Lord, Bishop David Olaniyi Oyedepo, a leader of the Charismatic wave in Nigeria, say more than once that Charismatics sometimes bastardize the gospel, I agree with his reasoning and that’s why I still retain my Conservative background despite my Charismatic leaning. I took time to explain my stance on these two groups because of the discourse I am going into, hoping that you will believe in my impartiality and fairness in dealing with the subject-matter rather than slamming me with bias. Unlike many Christians today, I understand the two sides because at one time or the other I had fellowshipped in both. And, now to our main discourse – is social media a gift from the devil?
I may not be the best person to answer this question but I believe my attempt at it will not be totally bereft of sense nor a waste of your valuable time. In 2011, when in a far away land on NYSC assignment, I turned to social media to keep pace with the civil world, stay in. touch with friends, kill boredom and have fun. It was a great experience. I became active on facebook, twitter and also got an invite for google plus in the good old days when it wasn’t yet opened to all comers. Social media was my buddy and I was abreast of all issues happening in the world. With social media, I was truly a citizen of the world, I knew whatever was happening to whoever, everywhere and whenever. I had no need for TV or Radio because I picked the news before the traditional media. Jokingly, I used to tell my friends that I broke with the news, so there was no need for me to tune in for any breaking news.
With my experience with and on social media can I agree with someone that social media is a gift from the devil? The same social media that is being used by many preachers across the globe to pass the good message of the Lord across? On facebook, you have the presence of almost all the great missions on earth; on twitter, today, the Nigerian individual with the highest number of followers is Pastor Chris of Christ Embassy, he has more followers than the D’banjs, the Don Jazzys and the 2faces of this world, an indication that there are believers on social media and are interested in connecting with the people of God. About a week ago, the number one trending topic worldwide on twitter was “Follow Jesus,” a gospel reach out. So how can this same platform be a gift from the devil?
While it is true that social media has its good, it is also true that social media opens one to the world like never before. I cannot count the many troubles I have entered into because of social media. With social media you are just one click away from everything you don’t want to see or hear. From time to time, there is the attack that posts pornographic pictures on your wall and sends links to your DM, there are also ‘friends’ and tweeps who post obscene things and use provocative pictures as profile pictures, avatars and display pictures. In addition, social media can be so addictive that you spend all of your valuable time doing nothing sensible but just refreshing your time line waiting for useless gists. The time you could have spent in God’s presence is wasted reading of Kim Kardasian’s divorce after 72 days in marriage, Will Smith’s difficulties in his open marriage, Princess Kate’s wedding gown, Linda Ikeji’s life style, Dbanj and Don Jazzy’s split and such other trivial issues.
Referring to the good social media platform as a devil’s gift, for me, instantly brings up the picture of the Trojan horse. In Greek mythology, the city of Troy was one that was heavily guarded and it was practically impossible for unwanted aliens to get through. When war broke out between the Greeks and the Trojans, the Greeks looked for ways to enter into Troy and when they saw none, they saw a means in the instrumentality of the Trojan horse. The Trojan horse was a hollow wooden statue of a horse and was placed at the entrance to Troy. When the Trojans saw the gigantic statue they were impressed at the gift their enemies have brought as a token of peace. The Trojans with their own hands dragged the horse into their impenetrable city and signed off on their invincibility because unknown to them, the horse was a device through which the Greeks concealed themselves and gained access to Troy. That gift from the Greeks was a gift of death, hence the term Greek gift which means a gift with the intention of tricking and causing harm to the recipient. With that singular mistake of accepting that Greek gift, the great city of Troy fell in battle never to rise again.
As Christians, we know that the devil is our enemy (1 Peter 5:8) and there is no gift he can give that is not intended to cause havoc. So, is social media truly a Trojan horse from the devil? Is it just a Greek gift intended to cause pain and defeat but packaged in such an enticing way? I believe that social media is a good tool but one that the devil can hijack as a Greek gift. Social media is just like its fore bears – TV and the internet. And those too had been labelled with bad names in times past.
I also see social media just like sex or music. The devil didn’t create either of those two but he causes much havoc through them. The use to which you put them determines whether you are making the devil glad or causing him pain. The alarming rate at which gospel musicians switch over to secular music and the ever increasing worship of sex today may easily make one refer to these two as gifts from the devil. Sex and music are snares that easily lure young people away from the things of God stylishly, innocently and quietly. So, I believe that the use to which social media has been used may have prompted the said preacher to make the statement he made. The Apostle Paul in commenting on a thorny issue that came up in his time said in Romans 14:14 that,
“I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean in itself: still, it is unclean to the one who considers it unclean.” (NET)
And for emphasis, he repeated in verse 20 that,
“…all things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who [does it] with offence.” (KJV)
The distinguishing factor here is the use to which one puts it, so if you glorify God with your use of social media, it is acceptable unto God; but if not, then you have the devil’s gift in your hands.