Arguably the biggest problem with social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter is the insulation from face-to-face communication. It always has been easier to say things in writing rather than speaking to someone in person; I get that. Twice, I received romantic rejections from men who wrote letters because they lacked the courage to face me. Writing puts us in control by shielding us from the reactions of others.
As a complication, social media provides a layer of anonymity. We may not have ever met that person we fight with on Twitter, and we may never meet her. So we don’t feel all that bothered if we end up making snarky remarks in return for the snarky remarks she makes toward us. After all, when we close Twitter, we only have to think about how she abused us. Right?
Wrong! Just as you’re a real person with feelings that get hurt, so your adversary online is a real person with feelings that get hurt. Yes, she’s following false teaching, and yes, her caustic words betray her lack of sanctification, but answering in kind should call our own sanctification into question. If we use social media as a cloak for verbally abusing perfect strangers, we fail to behave in Christlike ways.
Consider the teaching of Christ Himself:
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. ~~Matthew 5:43-48 (ESV)
Did you happen to notice the second clause of verse 44? Jesus said to pray for those who persecute us. Such behavior, He continues in verse 45, demonstrates that we take after our heavenly Father.
About a year ago, I started praying regularly that I’d behave in Christlike ways toward various people that I interact with in person. The Lord has graciously helped me treat these people a lot better than I had in the past — I’ve been amazed at the increasing self-control that He has worked into me.
Recently, the Holy Spirit has convicted me to extend that prayer to my interactions online, and particularly on Twitter. He has helped me realize that my opponents, no matter how vicious they might be, are human beings with feelings just like me. For that reason, He calls me to behave in Christlike ways toward them, even while refusing to compromise truth. In fact, behaving in ways that reflect His character only strengthens the stand I take for truth.
Sisters, social media currently gives us opportunities to speak out for Christ. While we have these opportunities, let’s boldly declare the Gospel and refute false teaching. But in doing so, let’s sincerely pray about our conduct. Yes — even on Twitter.