By Gabriella Martay

While many may see the death of Fred Phelps as another opportunity to air their personal opinions regarding the Westboro pastor, the Christian on social media should see Phelps’ passing as an opportunity knocking at their doorstep.  If you’re anything like me, you might want to believe that your social media presence is hardly significant. You may be even tempted to just post your personal opinions no matter how harsh their sting or critical their nature, but no matter how much I try to persuade myself that my presence on social media is not important, I am reminded that this thought is simply not true. Each of us has a responsibility to uphold when it comes to our presence on social media.

You and I may not have hundreds of thousands following our tweets, or five thousand friends on Facebook (or maybe you do), but we do have a sphere of influence. Key word: “influence”. Within my followers and friends list there are people that know me well and have only met me a few times. There are people that believe the same things I do and many more who don’t. There are young and there are older. No matter whom my friends or followers are the unquestioned fact remains that many of them will be influenced by and might even be awaiting my reaction to Fred Phelps’ death. Why? Because they all know I am a Christian.

When controversial world events happen, especially those of a religious nature, people are looking to see how followers of Jesus are going to react. There’s something inside of all of us that wants to see the proof of whether something is credible and legitimate. And just like I test drive a car at the dealership to see if it runs as well as the guy selling it has tried to convince me it does, people who hear someone proclaim they are Christian are usually awaiting the proof that backs that monumental statement.

Therefore, it is deceiving to think that social media posts are just for us to say whatever may come to mind at the moment. Despite how much one might hate hearing it, our social media is the proving ground of every title or cause we’ve ever attributed to ourselves. So, how does a Christian on social media stay credible and take hold of their influence during an event such as the death of Westboro’s founder? Here are 3 suggestions to start the conversation:

  1. 1.     Avoid the three D’s: Disrespect, Disdain and Deriding

Thinking about avoiding the three D’s makes me feel like a kid again. My mom would always tell us, “I don’t allow disrespect in my household. Either learn to be kind with your words or be quiet.” As time has gone on, I have come to realize that this statement was not something that my mom just conjured up, it was something God constantly says. He says, “Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.” (Proverbs 11:12) It’s a hard truth, but there is much to be gained when it is upheld. 

  1. 2.     Love Wins

It’s easy to think that we love others, but the judge of that will be the essence of our Tweets and posts. I think we’ve all had a moment or two where we go to post that fiery Tweet and then something (or someone) says, “Put down your weapon”. Even more, nothing drives this point home better than remembering that “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” (1 John 4:20)

  1. 3.     Be Creative. Conform Not

If you go onto Twitter and read the posts regarding Phelps’ death, you will see a tremendous amount of hate and pain from people using this social media outlet. I’m sure you could imagine the harsh words that people are throwing around for all to see in their social bubbles. With such an abundance of these responses, it is an absolute delight to think that a response that goes against this pattern can be a breath of fresh air and inspire people to think positive. We can enjoy the creativity that goes into the fact that as Christians we get to “not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:2). Why not take this chance to commission your followers to be game-changers? Why not challenge people to think about the situation from another angle? It takes a bit more effort to create these kinds of posts, but it’s satisfying when we do! Let’s create!

Westboro1

Those are just a few of my thoughts and suggestions as to how a Christian can stay credible and take hold of their influence on social media during controversial events. What are yours?

Editor’s Note: This display of love, grace and mercy is unbelievable. Check it out:

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church were perplexed Friday evening after they were met by counter protesters with a sign that expressed condolences for the recent loss of their church’s leader, Fred Phelps.

“Sorry for you loss,” the sign read.

Image source: Screen grab via KSHB-TV

Image source: Screen grab via KSHB-TV

HT: TheBlaze.com

Gabriella Martay

Author: Gabriella Martay

 “It’s always been in my heart to do this…” says Martay while referencing her passion to create and perform music. “I can’t explain it. It’s as if God planted this seed in my heart before I was fully created. I’ve always been drawn to create music and I figure- why not change the world while I do it?” Born and raised on the Central Coast of California, Martay grew up using music as an escape route from family turmoil and unrest. “I grew up in a family that loved me, supported me, but still had many issues that we just couldn’t seem to get past. I was never raised to understand how to cope with hurt or pain, so music was all I knew at times… the only thing I could turn to,” reveals the songstress.  Realizing as a teenager that music was not enough to get past many of the aches and pains she was experiencing from family drug issues and her parent’s divorce, Martay became a Christian in 2005. She made it her life’s agenda to passionately pursue God and to rearrange elements of her life that seemed to be out of place. This rearranging is what led Martay to Boston, Massachusetts to pursue a college degree in 2007. “People always ask me how I ended up in Boston. In my ambitious attempt to run away from home, I strategically chose to live in an East Coast city. I figured, a big city is where music happens. Boston here I come. Clearly, I wasn’t focused on school. I just used it as an excuse to do what I’ve always wanted to do,” states the charismatic singer. As soon as Martay arrived in Boston, she recorded her first song, “You in Me”. It was evident that Martay was placed exactly where she needed to be. Through her music one can tell that she wants nothing more but to point people towards the "Most High". Operating on the principle that music is an influential avenue to reach others with the Great news of Jesus Christ, she says "There's no need to just be speaking and letting my mouth run. The Gospel is bigger than that. It's absolutely necessary to also walk it out.. demonstrate it.. perhaps even depict it through music". With this mentality, Martay, birthed- Gabriella Martay Williams, has been fortunate enough to collaborate and hit the stage with the likes of Christian Hip-Hop pioneers such as the Gospel Gangstaz, the Much Luvv Family and many others. At the age of 21 this underdog has established a well-known presence within the music industry and has gone on to recently release her debut album entitled “Game Over”, an album that many listeners claim to be a new sound to the Gospel genre. Martay continues to be invited to minister in various locations throughout the nation and is currently in the studio working on her follow-up music project. With eyes focused beyond all the bright lights, she sees it necessary to bring music to the table that glorifies Jesus and empowers spiritual maturity. The music that this young innovator is putting out is something that's never been produced before: Catchy, soulful melodies laid perfectly over edgy, modern instrumentation.  It's terribly hard to put this young woman in a box and say she's going to be the next "so-and-so". The passion for Christ she demonstrates, the edgy sound she's equipped with and her determination to make good music are qualities that give her a genre of her own. To say where this witty, fun-filled musician is going to be in the near future is like predicting what God will do next. We must all stay in tune for this one