Please, my friends. Please stop and think before you post.
I didn’t plan to get sad over social media this morning. I was just doing my usual A.M. check of what might have happened overnight that I needed to know about. “Needed” being used loosely, of course. But anyway, there they were. Posts. Ones that made me sigh. Ones that made me wince and cringe and wish I hadn’t seen them.
I totally understand passion. I get it. We need passionate people who will stand by their convictions, people who want to save our country and our world from literal or spiritual demise, people who want to stop injustice and stop political candidates who don’t hold their values. But sometimes, the passion turns mean.
Should we defend our beliefs and hold fast to what we think is right and good? Yes! By all means, yes. But this morning I saw posts that trampled over the people “on the other side”. And that goes for both “sides”. I read things that hurt me, that pierced my heart. Things posted by those I consider friends, but who believe differently than me. Things that made me want to respond in defensive, snarky ways. Sweeping generalizations and attacks on what I consider to be subjects of vital and spiritual importance. And I wondered if the ones who posted them even thought of me when they chose to share whatever it was they shared.
But then, I saw people who should know better do the same thing. Angry, accusatory posts by those called by the name of Christ. And I thought of how many times in the Bible we are given pretty clear guidelines as to what our speech should be like, especially to a listening world.
A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. Proverbs 15:1
The tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing, but the mouth of a fool blurts out foolishness. Proverbs 15:2
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Proverbs 25:11
The Sovereign Lord has given me His words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary. Isaiah 50:4
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Colossians 4:6
If our posts and shares and likes come across just as angry and judging as those on the other side of our belief fence, how in the world are we showing them that we’re any different? Are our words gentle and appealing and beautiful and wise and comforting and gracious? Or do they allow us to posture defensively, take our sides, attack the enemy?
And what if the “enemy” is someone who is our friend? What if the “enemy” is someone who needs to know the Lord, and we are the only one in their lives they are going to see Him through? Sometimes we forget that not everyone on our friends lists, not every one of our “followers” know Jesus. If the only example they have of a Jesus-follower is me, what are they seeing? An incensed, opinionated, in-your-face kind of person? Or will they see someone who will hold unwaveringly to her beliefs, but who will refuse to engage in arguments that serve no other purpose than to make us dig our heels in even deeper?
It’s so easy to hit that post button, so easy to get caught up in the “us vs.them” mindset. It’s easy to scroll through all those shares and links and articles and memes and want to high-five the friend who scored the knockout punch, shout a hearty “amen” and re-share it because it makes us feel good. But please. Stop and think about it. I can’t believe that I’m even saying this and part of me is cringing, but… WWJD? Don’t judge me for that! I don’t have the bracelet or the bumper sticker and don’t ever intend on getting one. But really. Would Jesus share the things you share? Would He be pleased with how vindicated you feel when someone from your side of the fence hits a home run with the snarkiest meme you’ve ever seen? When we share our disdain for the other political party, or the person whose values and lifestyles and choices run counter to our own, are we really helping make the Gospel appealing to anyone?
I’m not standing on a soapbox. I’m just sad. I want us to find a way to use social media to let the Light shine through us, not win the debate through justified anger and “rightness” and fence fortification.
The next few months are going to be hard. Part of me wants to just avoid social media altogether. And that may not be a bad idea. But it may be that God is calling us to make a difference instead of simply avoiding the conflict. Maybe He’s calling us to share our values and convictions and beliefs in ways that are seasoned with salt and grace and wisdom and love. I think it’s worth a try. Think about it.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16
Let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works. Hebrews 10:24