It seems impossible. How could an ancient record that was written before modern-day technology teach us about social media? Surprisingly, the Book of Mormon is full of lessons we can apply to social media and how to use it for good.
For example, in Helaman 5:21–51 we see the brothers Nephi and Lehi devoted their lives to preaching the word of God. Because of this, they were taken by an army of the Lamanites and cast into prison. And while in prison, they were encircled by fire, yet it “burned them not and their hearts did take courage.”
They testified and declared, “Fear not. . . it is God that has shown unto you this marvelous thing.”
The Lamanite and Nephite dissenters in the prison were overshadowed with a cloud of darkness, and an awful fear came upon them. Then, they heard a voice three times telling them to repent. They were so frightened they couldn’t move.
Aminadab recognized the light and power of these prophets in the fire and taught the people to listen to the voice that had told them to repent and have faith in Christ.
The people began to “cry even until the cloud of darkness was dispersed.” Then they were encircled in this fire, but because of the example of Nephi and Lehi, they were not afraid. “They were filled with that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory” (emphasis added).
Many mighty miracles happened to the people. They heard the voice of God and felt the peace of Christ in their hearts through the Holy Spirit. Angels appeared and ministered unto them and after these miracles, the people “did go forth, and did minister unto the people. . . insomuch that the more part of the Lamanites were convinced. . . and did lay down their weapons of war and also their hatred. . .”
Can we see ourselves in this story? Can we see the Lord teaching us how to use social media for holy purposes?
Nephi and Lehi found themselves in a place that had them bound. Do we sometimes feel bound by social media? We have been warned that it’s dangerous, but we’ve also been taught to use technology for a holy purpose.
At Rootstech in March 2018, President Dallin H. Oaks said: “We must teach the rising generation how to use technology for a holy purpose, like FamilySearch, not the evil or even the trivial” (emphasis added).
As we focus on holy ways to use technology, we can help others see through the cloud of darkness so they don’t fear. They can be encircled with light.
How can we use social media for a holy purpose? One way would be to broaden our definition of family history. Did you know that when you post photos or stories on social media you are doing your personal and family history?
Our extended family has chosen a family hashtag and whenever we share a photo, memory, or story on social media we use that hashtag for our whole family to see. When I want to engage my kids in family history, I challenge them to look up the family hashtag and they’ll scroll through their family heritage, testimonies of Christ, how their forebears got through hard things, and see the faces of those who came before them. A true connection is made on social media through that family hashtag and we are using technology for a holy purpose.
When we post with a holy purpose, we can help discover, gather, connect, and strengthen our family. Then our families will feel encircled by the light of their loved ones.
Another way we can use social media for a holy purpose is by sharing our testimonies. When our family goes to the temple together and we take family names, I love to share on social media my feelings of joy, connection, and gratitude for my forebears. I’ve posted photos of our family and the temple and shared those feelings.
I have also made sure I keep my Christian friends all over the world in mind when I share my testimony on social media. I would never want them to feel alienated by the language I use that is very foreign to our dear friends who aren’t familiar with some phrases and words we use in our Church. So I prayerfully decide what part of my testimony I need to share. Each time I’ve done that I have had a friend or two reach out to me via direct message and we start a dialogue about forever families, God, temples, and love.
It has been such an uplifting experience when I follow the Spirit and ask Him to show me how to bear testimony in a holy way, but not in an overbearing way. I know the Spirit can be felt through technology and my dear Christian friends all over the world can feel it.
Being a Light
When we use social media for a holy purpose, we become an instrument in the hands of God to help others to feel that peace from Christ as they are drawn to Him in this scary and wicked world.
There is a cloud of darkness right now in our world and so many of our brothers and sisters are afraid and desperately looking for the light and peace that the gospel can bring.
Just as the faithful people, “went forth and ministered unto the people,” so can we on social media. And what happened? As they declared the gospel of Christ, “many were convinced and did lay down their weapons of war, and also their hatred.” We can convince others to lay down their weapons of war—negativity, bullying, unkindness, and even their hatred.
“Those who think of life as a ministry tend to be less lonely, less likely to feel that life has spun out of control, more inclined to have a gentle heart, more filled with purpose” (Sheri Dew, “Awake, Arise, and Come Unto Christ,” BYU Women’s Conference, May 2008).
What if we looked at our life on social media as our ministry? Do you see how this holy purpose can help us “go forth to declare” God’s light and truth with those all around us on social media? We can be like Nephi and Lehi and contribute to the work of salvation, helping others lay down their weapons of war and ministering in love on social media.