Who does this guy think he is anyway?
Does he have any sense at all?
Is he so blinded by his politics that he can't see the how illogical this statement is?
He has a lot of influence and several thousand followers. He needs to be held to account!
But before I could finish crafting my response, I decided to stop and think for a minute about the fact that behind this small picture with a few words as a caption there was a man. A man who, quite honestly, I know very little about. I’ve never met him personally. I’ve never actually read any of his books. I think I may have listened to a few minutes of his podcast a few years ago. Other than reading a few of his tweets, I have very little to go on when it comes to making a judgment about his character. And yet here I was, quietly judging him up and down the street.
It dawned on me in that moment how the veil of the internet along with the polarizing effect of social media can so easily cause us to forget about the humanity of the person disagreeing with us on the other side. Before we respond, before we correct, before we disagree entirely and completely, I think it’s vastly important that we keep this reality in mind: There is a person, made in God’s image and dearly loved by Him, that we are responding to. Not just a small political cartoon. Not just an angry comment. Not just a smiling profile picture. But a real flesh and blood person that woke up this morning with their own list of hurts, struggles, fears, and emotional baggage.
The author that posted the picture I disliked probably has far more in common with me than I know. He seems to be about my same age. I think he has a wife and kids. In addition to writing, he’s also a pastor at his church. My guess is we would actually become friends if we had the chance to spend some time sitting across from one another, face to face. He’s certainly not my enemy. He’s a fellow follower of Jesus! That alone gives me immense cause to show him honor and to give him the benefit of the doubt.
I know some folks might read this and think I am saying that we should never respond or disagree with others on social media. That’s not it at all. My main point here is that as Christians the call for us is to “speak the truth in love.” Speaking the truth in love means we that even as we disagree we show honor, give people the dignity they deserve, and keep the enemy-loving heart of Jesus in mind. It also means we listen closely to what the other person is trying to say. Soooo much is lost in translation when we are communicating via short typed comments. It’s very easy to misunderstand, misinterpret, and even miss the entire point because we THINK we know exactly what is going on.
James gives us some very timely advice in his epistle:
My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.
James 1:19-20 CSB
I believe that if we follow this wisdom as we interact on social media we will do well. God bless!