The other night I was in the middle of my normal social media perusal routine when I stumbled upon something that you and I have seen many times before. I was minding my own business when I was accosted by one of those spiritually manipulative “Share if you Love Jesus” Graphics on my wall. For you those of you who may not operate in the same networks that I am in, for reference purposes only, here is the particular image I encountered:
CHRISTIAN SHAREBAIT AT ITS FINEST.
Yeah… I know.
So what is the big deal? It is one silly post right? Surely an isolated incident. No one would actually share this would they?
Just to be sure I had to track down the source of this photo to see what kind of traction it was getting.
To my surprise, people actually do share this kind of graphic. A lot. In this case, at the time of this writing it was shared 55,727 times on Facebook alone. My simple math tells me that millions people probably have seen this image over last two weeks.
And it is not just this image. This kind of Christian Sharebait is everywhere. It is getting likes and amens and shares all the time. So to those of you who maybe feel that overwhelming urge to add fuel to the social fire, I present to you four reasons why you should NEVER share that post.
IT’S SPIRITUALLY MANIPULATIVE
These kinds of posts build up the mother of all false dichotomies. You can share it and be a Good Christian, or if you can keep scrolling and side with the Devil. There is no room for any other alternative.
Whenever we try to influence someone’s behavior through spiritual guilt we are manipulating them. Jesus never uses guilt. Whether you type amen or chose to move on to the next post will have no bearing whatsoever in the way God sees you.
When you share a post like this you are allowing yourself to be manipulated in order to manipulate others.
IT’S TAKING THE LORD’S NAME IN VAIN
Exodus 20:7 tells us: “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” If your formative years were like mine you were taught the meaning of the third commandment was to not say God D**mmit or other phrases like it. (A good Christian is to use the term G. D. which means the exact same thing. I hate to break it to you but you can’t trick God the same way you trick your three year old at the dinner table when you spell out what is for dessert if he eats all his food. God understands abbreviations.)
Contrary to what you may have learned on the flannelgraph, the third commandment is less about not swearing and more about not saying that God said things that he didn’t actually say. He is against that.
In this post the implied meaning is that Jesus himself is asking you to click share. I wasn’t there when the creator made the graphic, but I kind of doubt that God told him that. It just doesn’t seem in keeping with his M.O. for me. When you share that post you are telling people that God said something that he didn’t and probably wouldn’t say. If you share it you are not guiltless.
IT’S TURNING PEOPLE OFF FROM THE GOSPEL OF JESUS
I wish I didn’t have to explain this one, but that graphic is kind of the epitome of not cool. And while we shouldn’t judge the message of the Gospel by its cool factor, we certainly don’t need to add uncool stuff to our message in order to make it harder to follow Jesus. The path is narrow enough as it is.
We serve the God who made the Heavens and the Earth. He is the chief artist of our world. It is my belief that if we serve the one who invented art, the best art in the world should be coming from the church. Now I know it is bad form to criticize people’s art, and that beauty is in the beholder. I even recognize that I couldn’t (and wouldn’t) create anything like this, but let’s be honest – this is embarrassing. Don’t share it.
IT’S FEEDING THE BEAST
Did you know that creating this kind of content is actually big business. The makers of this kind of content do so to drive shares and likes and comments which get more and more eyes on their content, more and more yes on their website which leads to more and more eyes on the ads they sell. This is not created by some well-meaning but naive Christian trying to help their friends share the gospel.
It is kind of like when you are eating a meal outside and a lonely pigeon flies over to take a look at what you are having. You feel a little bit of pity for that pigeon so you decide to throw it a little scrap of bread. Moments later you are surrounded by pigeons because the word has gotten out that you are the guy who is giving out free food. That is why you don’t feed the pigeons.
The same goes for “Share if you love God” posts. People keep creating them because we keep sharing them. Like the pigeon it may feel okay to just do it for this one post, but don’t do it. You will attract a thousand more.
Church let’s work together and put a stop to this. It is not going to be easy because there is a lot of it. We can start to turn the tide if we get the word out that maybe you can still follow Jesus and not heap social guilt on all of your network of friends. We can help be a part of the solution. Just say no to Christian Click Bait.
Am I missing something? Are there other reasons not to share it? Do you disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
(Ironically, it would be awesome if you would like, share and comment on this post.)