Being a Follower of Jesus in a Virtual World…

Image from the 1976 movie Network.

Arguments go back and forth on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. The internet is a virtual town square where opinions can be expressed and issues debated. Sadly, this often turns to rage and ranting generously seasoned with foul language and personal attacks.

If you’re a Christian, you can still enter the fray to offer opinions and debate issues, but let us do so as we are guided by God’s Word –

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6)

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:19-20)

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” (1 Peter 3:15-16)

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

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)

It’s okay to debate issues. I’d argue that believers need to enter the public debate on important issues such as sex trafficking, abortion, euthanasia, poverty, immigration, racism, sexual harassment, pornography… the list seems endless. But when we enter the virtual word of Tweets and Facebook posts, let’s enter this world full of “grace and truth.” Let us not use the same sensible discretion when posting that we do when having face to face conversations. Let us remember that rage does not enhance our argument, nor does the use of harsh and abusive language. Why do good judgment and civility seem to disappear when voicing opinions on social media?

Let us be people who reflect the Christ we claim to worship. Yes, there were times when Jesus got angry. Anger itself is not a bad thing. But Jesus’ reputation was not of an angry prophet whose breath smelled of brimstone. We can become angry over issues and injustices. We can state our opinions in person or online. But we must always remember that we are not Jesus. We do not have His insight and understanding. We too often react based on emotions putting both our hearts and minds in suspending animation while we give full vent to our rage.

I leave you with these wise words from James, the brother of Jesus –
“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” (James 3:9-10)

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