Just a cursory glance at social media will show you the political division that exists in our nation, communities, and even families. In recent days, every statement by a political candidate or pundit brings on either glorious cheers or vitriol hate by one side or the other. Not only do those emotions get turned on the candidates and their campaigns, often times they are aimed at friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites become verbal battlegrounds in the fight to get our point across. The Texas Baptists Christian Life Commission Public Policy Office can help you, as a believer, navigate the various issues that we are facing. Yet, the larger question is how we continue to shine the light of Jesus when we find ourselves in these conversations.
Here are some suggestions on how you can maintain a missional lifestyle in the midst of political chaos.
Say nothing at all. Are we desiring to express an opinion that is not rooted in Scripture and not intended to convey God’s love for all people? If so, leave it unsaid.
“Christians are called to speak Christ’s love into our world. Part of this means showing that God has taught us to love and respect all people, even when we disagree with them. Our most profound desire is that each person we encounter follow Christ with a faith commitment and a continuing growth in Christ. All of our words, including those in social media, should be toward that end. We want to help people come to faith in Christ and then to walk more closely with Christ. Doing so will sometimes bother some people, but we should be careful in the words we use in social media.” -- Ferrell Foster, CLC Director of Ethics and Justice
One of the fastest ways to lose your ability to share the love of Christ with others is to jump into the middle of a conversation about politics just for the sake of arguing a point. It is understandable that you want to answer whatever question is being posed at that moment. Yet, if you want to be a person that someone listens to later on, it may actually be better not to say anything. I will often see something on social media, begin to type my opinion or angle on it, and then ask myself this question: “Does what I am saying here add to or take away from my ability to share Jesus with this person and others and to influence our world for Christ?” Keep in mind that in these heated political conversations, there are likely many people listening.
Remember that your opinion or the political platform of any party is not Scripture. There are some issues that most evangelical Christians can agree on, but there are many more issues that have to be discussed and handled with a great deal of care. If you can discuss those issues in a loving, thoughtful way, then feel free to do so. The problem is, many times we cannot, and again that leads to us losing our ability to share Christ with others and to help Christians walk more consistently with Christ.
Love. When in doubt, or faced with a really terrible issue or person whose view or lifestyle just drives you crazy, love some more. Here is a big question you can ask before you post, comment, or share your opinion in a public setting: “Is what I am saying here motivated by my love for this person, or is it motivated by my need to be right?” Over and over in scripture Jesus tells us to love, to love each other as believers and to love the world around us. The overarching theme of his ministry was not to convince, cajole, persuade, change minds or judge, but it was to love.
If for some reason it gets really nasty, scrap the whole thing. I have posted things before that I thought were fairly innocent, and yet somehow they turned into a battle, sometimes between Facebook friends who did not even know each other. In those situations I have just decided, “hey, let’s just erase this whole deal because this is doing nothing to advance the cause of Christ.” Again this goes back to the idea that sometimes silence may very well be the very best answer in any situation we are facing. Also, like we said above, there are lots of people watching who never like, comment, or interact in anyway, they are just there for the show. Let’s not give them one.
Hold on to your ability to share Christ, expand the Kingdom and make the world a better place with everything you have. If you would like to talk more about this, call, email or find me on social media where I will be struggling along with you to keep my witness.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:31-32 ESV).