We are living at a time in history when massive volumes of information are quickly accessible. Any topic is open for comment. Anyone may contribute information, misinformation, or personal opinion to that accumulation of data and transfer it instantly worldwide through cyberspace as fact.
Much of the material we read is politicized, opinionated and incorrect. Some of it is purposefully distorted to provoke controversy and raise ire.
Unfortunately, the ‘Christian’ demographic is not immune from responding and adding to this proliferation of mistruth, half-truth, and fearmongering. Social media platforms have created a ‘fishbowl’ environment where church leaders banter and battle relentlessly, back-and-forth, while the skeptical, unbelieving public watches and mocks.
We can do little to regulate the rhetoric of others, but we are responsible for the views we personally express, and the views of others which we endorse and repeat. A big part of maturation in the Christian faith is the discipline of self-censorship. We need it now more than ever!
Here are a few guidelines I have tried to follow. They are anchored in the words of James. My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. (James 1:19)
Here Is A Little Test I Try To Apply Before I Post Or Re-Post: When I post or publicize my own thoughts or propagate the thoughts of another:
Do they add fuel to a controversy, or do they offer steps towards a reconciliatory solution? We have been given the ministry of reconciliation: man to God and man to man. Life and death lie in the power of the tongue. (Proverbs 18:21)
Do they graciously address an issue, or do they attack a person(s)? We are instructed by Scripture to esteem others better than ourselves. We, too, are only forgiven sinners. We must remember that we will be judged with the same measure with which we mete out judgement. (Matthew 7:2) - (scary thought).
Do they come from a fully informed and well-researched source? How have I decided that these thoughts I have, or this article I want to re-post, are grounded in fact? Paul clearly tells us to avoid vain philosophies and foolish arguments and bearing false witness is included in the decalogue.
Do they reflect what Jesus would say if He were addressing the issue (or would He even bother to address the issue)? We are to be the Voice of Christ to the world, representing His Kingdom. His is a Kingdom of love and light and life. Does my contribution to the issue reflect the values of Christ’s Kingdom? Do they bring Christ’s light to an issue, are they spoken in love and words of life?
Do they only provide a vent for my angst and frustration or are they shared from a desire to help others who may be seeking truth? What response will they engender in the reader? Will they point the reader to Jesus? Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. (Psalm 25:5)
Have I honestly prayed about this, asking the Lord if these thoughts would glorify and honour Him? If the chief end of man is to glorify God, it needs to start first with my thoughts and then be followed through by my words.
In applying these simple rules to those items, I would like to contribute to or duplicate on social media platforms, I have discovered that I will hit send far less frequently. Although I still mess up from time to time, I really do want my conversation to be gracious and attractive so that (I) will have the right response for everyone. (Colossians 4:6)