Two students begin their day early Monday morning with coffee at the Berkey Creamery while checking Facebook and getting started on their studies. This photo was taken by a photojournalism student in one of two sections of Intro to Photojournalism, COMM 269, taught by John Beale, senior lecturer in communications. Their assignment was to document a typical winter day in and around Penn State on Monday, Feb. 21.
There I was at league bowling night when a Service Member approached me and flat out asked, “Hey Chaps, what do you think of those ‘Share if you love Jesus’ memes on Facebook?”
I understand that I say things that offend people. I’ve been called heretical and even blasphemer. But I never TRY to offend people, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t blast this guy with my “truth.”
I said, “Staff Sergeant, I don’t think it’s right or ethical to try to force people’s behavior through manipulation and guilt, and those types of memes do just that.”
His response? “Oh, okay, so I don’t have to feel bad for not feeling bad about not sharing.”
Me: “Staff Sergeant, I NEVER share any of them.”
And he walked away, laughing.
It’s an excellent question he asked because those memes are EVERYWHERE! I’m not even sure what motivates people to make them up. Who thinks it’s a good idea to make people feel bad for not sharing a ridiculous picture? In the end, it’s not really about spirituality but about social media presence and influence.
Who can get the most shares? Who can get the most likes?
It’s public spirituality which smacks of insincerity and legalism. Rather, Jesus calls us to a life of private spirituality. That isn’t to put down corporate worship (worshiping as a church). Our group gatherings are an important part of our own spiritual growth. Instead, Jesus has in mind the spirituality we do in public as a show. For example, Jesus says:
“So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”
And Jesus continues:
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
Do you get the feeling that Jesus would see these memes and gag?
Don’t be spiritually manipulated by these flim-flam social media Christians. If you love Jesus, follow him and live by his commands. Please do NOT share any ridiculous memes.
A like does NOT equal one prayer.
A share does NOT equal 10 prayers.
Chris Linzey is husband to Tené, father to the three most beautiful children in the world, a Navy Chaplain, and a movie enthusiast. Chris loves people and has a deep desire to help them live lives of faith where the Bible is more than mere words on a page, but the way we live every day. His undergrad and Master’s studies were in Biblical Studies, and he focused on the New Testament (his mentor was a Gospel of Mark scholar). He received an additional Master's degree, Master of Divinity (MDiv), in Pastoral Preaching.