Haters gonna hate; let your light shine anyway
What’s with all the click bait, Jonny?
Someone mentioned to me they thought my presence on social media was a little “click bait-y.” You can probably see this most vividly on Facebook, where I often post a big banner, followed by a link in the comments. I understand for some it can be a little jarring, most of us don’t even dare to post something in public, lest we be mocked or shamed. Or we make sure our posts are well-protected or nestled in the comments somewhere only the most diligent will find. Of course, some of us just think social media is a terrible way to relate and we just ignore it altogether except for pictures of babies, cats, and weddings.
I have to admit that that trepidation people feel when they say something in public accompanies me too. Even before I start a cell meeting, say the welcome at the Sunday meeting and deliver a talk, or make a tweet, there’s a feeling in my stomach about what could happen to me. It’s hard to be vulnerable, and all of those things vulnerably expose me, because I could get hurt. I might even have someone comment behind my back about how insufferable I am on social media. Then I might feel even more nervous the next time.
In a perfect world, we’d practice Matthew 18. If someone had a problem with me, they’d bring it directly to me. But not everyone is going to do that, and certainly being annoyed at my online self is quite short of me sinning against you, so I get it if you don’t want to get all New-Testament-official about it. Nevertheless, the world isn’t perfect, so we always take a risk when we share something with the world. Someone’s always ready to talk shit, and on the Internet that’s even more common.
But I want to persevere through that anxiety and that fear. I want to keep sharing what I’ve got and what God has given me. Most of my fear is unfounded, even. On Sunday, for example, we held an “ask me anything,” where people in the congregation could ask me any question they wanted. I got a bunch of good faith questions and felt good about how I responded. Someone commented about how “gutsy” it is to be yourself out there. And I was glad for the affirmation, but it’s also gutsy to ask your question in a church at all. So I think we had some mutually held vulnerability.
Share good things, bless the world, glorify God
But even without that mutuality, I’m still driven to share what I’ve got or what God has given me. I was recently inspired to do this when reading Disruptive Witness by Alan Noble. Noble tells us that we don’t live in a world that has a grammar for our faith, and so our witness can sometimes fall on deaf ears, if you will. Our postmodern, technological society also lacks the attention span to suspend itself in awe of its surroundings. We check our phones instead.
Noble will go on to say that Christians can be an antidote to our distracted, secular age. We can disrupt the age through a “double movement.”
“This is the movement we need—a double movement in which the goodness of being produces gratitude in us that glorifies and acknowledges a loving, transcendent, good, and beautiful God. Simply put, the double movement is the practice of first acknowledging goodness, beauty, and blessing wherever we encounter them in life, and then turning that goodness outward to glorify God and love our neighbor” (Alan Noble, Disruptive Witness, IVP, 2018, p. 92).
Noble says that this is manifestly in scripture, “most vividly” in Matthew 5:16 where Jesus tells us to, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” Let our light shine. Don’t hide it under a bushel. Point out the good in the world and in you, and let it point to God. That disrupts our age in despair. It may bless someone, even if it annoys someone else. But my duty is to cry out, and if I don’t Jesus says, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”
You’re the salt that seasons the world
I think we need to be free with the inheritance we’ve received and we should share it openly. The world is in poverty and needs nourishment. Fill the poor with good things. I guess that’s one of the motives I have of my cavalier sharing. I think we should share our best stuff for the sake of the glory of God. Not necessarily to change someone’s mind or viewpoint or whatever. We disrupt the world with our witness then. Another way to put it, is that we “season” the world with our praise to God. Some people will join in on the cooking, but if nothing else, some folks will dine with us.
I think that’s what Jesus means when he says we are the salt and light. We offer light to a dark world, and seasoning to a bland one. So let’s pepper the world with goodness, the goodness that we have, so that we all can move through our trouble, despair, and angst. It’s true that we will sometimes attract detractors when we do that, but haters gonna hate. Let your light shine.
For me, practically, that means I post my favorite part of the Daily Prayer. It means I write my blog. It means I even share my cooking successes and failures on my new weird Instagram account. Sometimes I feel guilty for doing it because I do like positive attention, but rather than condemn myself for mixed motives, I keep moving with God’s redemption and try to play my part in it.
I hope you will feel inspired to share the good of what God has given you, and as Brené Brown teaches us, don’t let the shame gremlins sneak in and take over your thoughts. Find your freedom in Christ, being free not just to share, but to take the hits in stride. Take comfort because the world hated Jesus too, so letting your light shine is not risk-free, but I think God gives us the courage to share.
Ultimately, we want to express this sharing in an interpersonal witness. Social media is not the best transmitter of the Gospel, obviously. Our seasoning there is just taking advantage of an opportunity. The best way to do it is interpersonally. Our cells are beacons of light that shine in people’s life. We really do think that the Spirit of God is in all of us and that the miracle of human connection, wherever it happens, is a miracle of Jesus Christ. Let’s share that connection and give people a chance to connect.