How Can I Shine Online? (pt 1)From series How Can I Shine Online?.
Salt and Light: Living a Lifestyle of Influence
There was a time when proud parents would boast that their son or daughter was ‘something big in the city’. They don’t tend to do that any more. Nor do we refer to ‘the Big White Chief’, as it is way off the scale in political correctness, and a reference to the ‘big cheese’ is made only with tongue firmly inserted in cheek. All of these phrases reflect how the world measures influence. Size, it would seem, does matter.
The Bible measures these things differently. Wild-man John the Baptist was said to be ‘great’ (Matthew 11:11) and Moses the great leader is described as ‘very humble’ (Numbers 12:3). The kingdom of God is a topsy-turvy place where a tiny widow’s coin is a fortune, insult may be a blessing, and weakness could be strength. As citizens of such a kingdom, Jesus says that our influence is measured by our ability to act as salt and light in the world.
Like many other Christians, I spend a lot of time online. I am one of those who contribute to the four million tweets going out each day. I blog and interact with others across the world daily. Like most other preachers, I have exegeted the salt and light metaphor on many occasions. Like others, I have linked the image of light back to the Garden and forward to the Light of the World. I have spoken about how a pinprick of light can change the darkest landscape. I have discussed how for Jesus and his listeners salt was not so much a seasoning as a preservative – stopping the rot. From there it is a short step to apply the salt and light metaphors to our daily lives.
Hitherto, though, I have tended to apply them only to our lives offline. What about if we were do the same with our lives online? Such is the impact of our online presence that people are courting our loyalty there on a daily basis. Facebook pages for your favourite brand and customer service accessed through Twitter are commonplace. Tools which measure your online influence, such as Klout, are now part of the social media landscape, and some believe that it is not long before employers will be checking the Klout score of future employees as a matter of course.
If that is so, then how should Christians measure our online influence? ‘Simples,’ as Alexandr Orlov would say – ‘salt and light.’ The same criteria still apply. Are we bringing light and honesty to all our online encounters? Do we make the internet a more savoury place just by being there?
The most fundamental measure of our influence, of course, will come long after all online accounts are closed down and all books are opened. No need to tweet about it, though – the only audience you will care about will know it already.
(This article is the first in a three part series)