There’s been a lot of controversial hot topics in the media recently. A lot of differing opinions, and most of these topics have taken social media by storm.
There have been a few times I’ve wanted to sit down and type out my frustration, my disappointment, my anger and post it on my blog for the world to see. Maybe if more people read the truth, saw how their wrongs were affecting others (and themselves!), maybe then their eyes would be opened and they’d miraculously change their minds!! Right?
Maybe. But probably not.
But in those moments, instead of hitting “publish,” I try to take a breath.
And that breath allows me to search my heart and my motivations and ask God what would be glorifying to Him.
Yes, a lot of things happening in our world make me really sad. And it can be frustrating to sit by and not be able to do anything tangible to change our culture. So a lot of times, social media seems like the only outlet.
And some people have done exactly that. I’ve read some great articles that say exactly what I’m thinking and feeling. But I’ve also read some articles, comments and musings that are downright bitter, cynical and judgmental. The internet boasts itself an easy place for conversation about hot topics. But is it REAL conversation? Is it REAL life?
In our culture, social media provides a way to post just about anything about ourselves on 52 different platforms. There are new social media apps popping up every day, giving a new and improved way to share more of ourselves with with world. It can be so easy to take to the “pen” in an emotional rage and give the world a piece of our minds. After all, “the pen is mightier than the sword,” right?
I’ve been reading through the devotional Savor by Shauna Niequist, and last week she spoke of internet regrets:
“When I’ve regretted saying something on the internet, it’s never been about love. I’ve never regretted loving or encouraging or celebrating something. I have often regretted slamming or dismissing or criticizing something, because when I do that online, it’s outside of relationship, outside of shared understanding, outside of context.”
Amen, sister. How many times have we posted something on the internet, only to get super frustrated when someone responded back criticizing us or belittling our opinion, when it wasn’t at all our intention? Or maybe they understood our opinion completely, but their opinion and response still attacked our character, our intelligence, and our self.
The internet has made life eeeeasy. 1 click shopping, 1 click friendships, 1 click movies, 1 click information. But it’s also taken a lot of our lives out of the context of relationship. It’s really easy to judge someone when you see only a small part of their situation. When you don’t know the context surrounding their words, it’s easier to misunderstand them, and then slander them and their character.
You don’t always know a person’s background, where they’ve been, what they’ve experienced. What has happened in their lives to influence their opinion? Maybe they’re not completely wrong, they’re just really hurt. (Or maybe, just mayyyybe, you might find out they’re actually right and YOU’RE wrong! Craaaazy!) By discussing things in real life and in the context of relationship, you can better understand someone and the “why” behind their views.
On the flip side, is it wrong to stay silent on the internet about topics you’re passionate about? Afterall, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it: “silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” So does that mean that we need to take to the streets, (or in this case the web) with what the Bible says about the evil in the world? Maybe.
However, in Psalm 4, it says:
“Be angry and do not sin;
ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.
Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.”
To God, it’s all about the motivations of our hearts, the “why” behind our actions. Clearly, it’s not wrong to be angry. (Even Jesus got angry!) But where it turns wrong is acting out of that anger in a sinful way. Unfortunately, that line is not always black and white.
Some people might be thinking, “but if we don’t defend the truth, who’s going to make those wrong people realize they’re wrong???”
What does God say? “Be silent…trust me.”
Many times, I think God would rather us stay silent than attempt to defend Him. He knows that we are emotional beings, prone to saying things we don’t mean, or wouldn’t say in other circumstances.
“Know this my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19 + 20)
[I’ve heard it said that God gave us TWO ears and ONE mouth so that we would listen twice as much as we speak…]
But isn’t it up to us to respond back to Joe Shmoe who thinks such-and-such, which is SO wrong and make him see the error of his ways?! Because if no one respond back to him then isn’t that like agreeing with him?
“Be silent…and trust me.”
So what CAN we do?? Cause honestly, sometimes I feel useless. I know what the Bible says, I know what I believe. I want to change the world, but I live in small town Ohio. I can’t engage every person who posts an opinion differing my own in real life and in the context of a relationship.
I can work on ME. As the verse from Psalm 4 states, “offer right sacrifices.” If I focus on my relationship with God, and the ways that I can continue to grow into a more godly person, I’ll take my eyes off the sins of the world and onto my relationship with my sinless Savior.
I can also PRAY.
But that doesn’t feel like it’s enough!! I need to ACT, I need to CONVINCE, I need to RESCUE!!
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!
Refrain from anger and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.”
Be still. Wait patiently. Refrain from anger. Definitely not what most of us do in the face of a “passionate discussion.” Even if I tried, I would not be able to convince every “wrong” person out there that they are wrong. But that’s ok, because God doesn’t call me to do that. He calls me to be still, to wait on Him and to trust Him. He calls me to love those I disagree with and furthermore, He calls me to PRAY FOR THEM.
“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:44)
[Now, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE hear my heart. I’m NOT saying we should sit back and do nothing in the face of injustice. I’m NOT saying we shouldn’t raise awareness. I’m not saying we should let bad things happen to innocent people. If there are ways we can help those who can’t help themselves, and stand up for the “least of these,” we absolutely should. As Jesus says in Matthew 25, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”]
What I am saying is that there are a million different opinions out there, and a million different positions on the hot topics of our culture. Some of them are black and white. A lot of them are gray. We’re most likely never going to actually win an argument over the internet. We’re just going to stir the pot. And instead of focusing on what to say from behind our computer, we should focus on what to say from our knees.
As Corrie ten Boom put it:
“A man is powerful on his knees.”