jesus tiktok

What began as an ordinary app mainly used for lip-syncing during its early days as Musical.ly, TikTok has expanded exponentially in terms of user count and popularity. Its usership is quickly gaining on that of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other social media platforms. An estimated one billion users use the app every month, with almost 60 percent of them being Gen Zers or those between the ages of nine and 24.

This profound usership speaks volumes to the platform’s popularity and its engaging and, some would say, addictive nature. Short-form videos let users get creative with their content, using stickers, filters, voiceovers, background music and sound effects. You can also live-stream, and the ease with which it takes to upload videos has helped boost the app’s appeal. Best of all, once posted, the video can be viewed instantaneously, and the app’s algorithm helps keep the fun alive by running a constant stream of similar videos. Given this, becoming addicted to a particularly favorite subject is easy and thus, hours can be lost in interminable viewing.

Much of TikTok’s success also stems from celebrity users and their endorsement of the app. Celebrity TikTok users include Jimmy Fallon, Ariana Grande, Lizzo, Taylor Swift, The Rock and many others. Most of them have issued “challenges” or promotions to bring more users to their pages. Savvy companies are also leveraging TikTok’s users to their advantage. They typically partner with influencers by sending them free merchandise, which the influencer then reviews or promotes on their page, boosting the company’s product. TikTok also offers influencers the option to run paid ads, so it’s a win-win all around.

Ancient social media.

However, about 2,000 years ago, technology like TikTok didn’t exist, but there was another mode through which the Good News was shared far and wide: letters. Letters written on parchment scrolls were that day’s “social media,” carried by the apostles and messengers to churches in Asia-Minor. It may have taken weeks or months for those letters to reach their destinations, given the task of travel in ancient times, but the letters served as a way to instruct, encourage, and even warn recipients.

While the apostles, particularly Paul, took advantage of this communication method, writing circular and personal letters whenever he couldn’t be there in person, Jesus didn’t. His approach was face-to-face conversations, whether with an individual or with a group. Jesus’ sphere of influence wasn’t worldwide but encompassed Judea, which had an estimated population of less than 70,000 people then. His influence didn’t reach beyond Judea’s borders until after His resurrection and then via witness and those epistles that now compromise the New Testament.

The spiritual potential of TikTok.

Nowadays, people rarely write letters. Instead, the preferred mode of getting the message out there is still church involvement and witness. However, the message is also increasingly being spread using social media. Given TikTok’s reach of billions of users worldwide, many faith-based believers are using the app to share the love of Jesus Christ and the Good News. In a day when most young people are leaving the church for various reasons, TikTok could be the way to reach them, following Paul’s example and heart in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.

One TikTok evangelist is 21-year-old Elijah Lamb. He uses TikTok’s platform to preach and teach the Bible unabashedly. To date, his follower count sits at 690,000, with a target audience of Gen Zers, hoping to reach into the disillusioned and confused hearts of his generation. Lamb and other Christian influencers intentionally use TikTok, YouTube and Instagram to reach their peers. Like it or not, it’s how millennials engage and communicate in today’s world. However, what better way to situate yourself as a spiritual influencer than by going where the “lost” are: online. TikTok evangelists understand that, and they know their media messages, whether they’re a proclamation of the Gospel or a sermonized teaching, can be sent and received instantaneously and conveniently. They know their messages have the potential to reach thousands with one “click.”

This is a good thing. Amidst all the silly, fake and false content out there, God’s people, called to be ambassadors for Jesus, have a ready-made opportunity to post encouraging, redemptive content on TikTok and other platforms. What about the rest of us? Even if we’re not high-volume influencers, we can easily upload a 10-minute portion of a sermon from our pastors or another well-known pastor. We can record ourselves reading a passage of Scripture or do a voiceover reading with a lovely image. The creative prospects are limitless.

How to biblically engage on social media.

Whether you choose to engage on TikTok or other social media platforms, there are Scriptural guidelines we should follow as believers. First, you should be mindful of your motivation. If you’re using TikTok to become a famous influencer to gain thousands of followers and attract companies to support you and your brand, then posting videos about Jesus and His message is simply a means to an end, a selfish end.

If this is the case, your motivation is more self-promotion than Jesus’ promotion. You don’t have the glory of God or the maintenance of His Kingdom at the forefront. You have the glory of your brand and yourself in mind. However, if you have sincerely sought the Holy Spirit’s guidance and have prayed about using TikTok as an evangelistic tool and you believe God has given you His blessing, then you should go for it.

Next, you should be mindful of your words. Proverbs 15:1-2 tells us that a gentle answer turns wrath away, but a harsh word stirs up anger. A wise tongue adorns knowledge, but a fool’s mouth gushes folly. Regarding our words, whether written or spoken and how and when we use them, God has plenty to say. Before posting a video that includes any written or verbal content, run them through the above verse. If they don’t hold up to biblical standards, rewrite your content. You should be truthful but speak God’s truth with grace and love. You wouldn’t want to put the Lord to shame with your carelessly spoken or written content.

All this begs the question: If He were walking this earth today, would Jesus use TikTok to share His message of salvation? Maybe He would or wouldn’t, who’s to say? However, we can say that Jesus would encourage those who are fulfilling His command of making disciples by using this popular platform, or any social media platform, with the authentic, Spirit-led intentionality of sharing His message for the good of the Kingdom and His glory.

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