We are fortunate in these times to have such easy access to public platforms. What was once only obtainable by the wealthy and famous is now available to the masses with little to no effort. Social media platforms such as Facebook have now encouraged every individual to broadcast their right to free speech at the touch of a button.
This is a fantastic capability and a phenomenal opportunity. Freedom of speech is such a glorious right, and we are fortunate to live in a society that protects such a practice. However, the right to free speech is often confused. Those who have rushed into the privilege of maintaining a public voice have forgotten that a right to action does not imply the wisdom or validity of that action.
A valid and wise opinion can instantly become an unwise utterance when delivered inappropriately.
While every person in this country has the right to their beliefs and the right to express those beliefs, this right does not give you the moral liberty to express those opinions with no regard to who you might be hurting.
Stop and think about that for a second. Think about all the times you’ve read hurtful, negative material on Facebook and have walked away feeling drained, discouraged, disheartened, or even outrageously offended. The power of words is immense, and it is not a power you should use lightly.
We’ve all been told: “think before you speak”. I believe we should not only think before we write, but read. Read, read, and re-read your material before you publish it to the world. Don’t merely skim through, but drink in your words as if you were a guest drinking from a cup you offered them. What you publish to the internet is not easily taken back.
We’ve become a people who are so obsessed with broadcasting our opinions to the masses that we forget to minister to the one.
Imagine you did come face to face with the kind of person you spoke out against on social media. Imagine they came to you for help or for friendship. Would you choose conjure up a status from your social media site and complain to them about how their life is ruining yours?
Or would you rather have a different sort of conversation? Would you rather have the chance to share with them heart-to-heart and soul-to-soul about your belief in the One who changed your life? Would you love them?
If you found yourself face to face with that person, would you want them to know what you had said about them to the world?
I promise you right now that you will have private encounters with the demographics you condemn publicly. And when you have one of those interactions, you better pray that they haven’t seen your negative opinion plastered all over the internet. Because if they have, they won’t be listening to a word you say.
If we want the church to be taken seriously, we better start taking our beliefs seriously.
Sure, posting that status about how you feel as though your opinions are being ignored might make you feel like you’re taking a stand. It might even make you feel righteous. And don’t we all just love feeling righteous? But what is it actually doing?
It’s preaching at people.
When was the last time you listened to someone preaching at you? I will be willing to bet – never. I know I don’t. If someone approaches me with the sole intent of telling me what’s wrong with my life and offers no compassion, love, or even a possible solution, I couldn’t care less what they have to say. And I know for a fact that I am called to treat others the way I would want to be treated.
It’s belittling to your own beliefs.
That’s right. Your opinion on the subject just might be right. It might even be wise. But when you post your opinion on the matter in a state of emotion, stopping only to click “Post”, your opinion quickly goes from being valuable to laughable.
You wouldn’t prepare to deliver a speech on national television regarding our country’s morality by hurriedly typing out a paragraph or two and running up to share with the world what you’ve just written. NO, you would write and rewrite and pray and seek the wisdom of others before addressing such a weighty and important subject. So why does the church feel it’s acceptable to do the same thing over Facebook?
It’s isolating people from the church.
Who is it that you want to see at church the most? If you ask me I want to see someone walk into a church who is broken and unloved and leave whole, happy, and beloved. Isn’t that the reason for everything the church does in the first place? It should be.
Posting absolutes about morality and casting judgement on heated moral situations does nothing but isolate those who you call out. By passing judgement on the lifestyle of thousands of people, you communicate to them that they don’t belong around you or your church. You lock the doors of the sanctuary to them with your words. You deny them an invitation to explore your faith and turn their hearts against anything your brothers and sisters in Christ have to say.
Jesus called his followers to him and promised them rest. He taught them what to do instead of what not to do. He encouraged them to do right instead of always reminding them not to do wrong. He built relationships with them, walked with them through life, and shared everything with them. Jesus met with countless adulterers, prostitutes, people under demonic oppression, tax collectors, politicians, murderers, and sinners. Did he broadcast their sins? No. Did he tell them that they were doing wrong and that they were ruining their country? No. He loved them.
And when he told them “go and sin no more”, it was a call to freedom rather than to bondage. It was an assurance that they were no longer bound to shame, guilt, or pain. It was a promise that they could go and never look back on those things again.
Condemnation never saved a single soul. Only mercy, grace, and the love of Christ did that.
It’s time that we as a church rethink the idea of debating over Facebook. Can you carry on a discussion over social media with the upmost respect for your audience? Or are you more concerned with being right, righteous or smarter than they are?
Consider that our anger and indignation on social media is not at all rooted in those around us, but rather is a poisonous wellspring bleeding from our own hearts.