Commentary by Drew Zahn
Your Aunt Nancy’s coworker just dropped an angry, atheist rant on your Facebook page. Whatcha gonna do about it?
Talking about Jesus is easier than ever thanks to social media. But so is falling into the trap of cruel and condescending talk. How can a Christian on social media draw people closer to Christ instead of pushing them away? Here are 5 proverbs to keep in mind before you push the “Post” button:
1. Don’t feed the trolls. Angry, bitter people are crawling across the Internet looking for any Christian to insult. Like fishermen “trolling” for a bass, they bait you in order to hook you into an argument you can’t win. They aren’t interested in your reasonable apologetics. They will spite your offer of love. “Trolls” will eat up your time, drive you to angst … and you will never move their hearts. Don’t take the bait. When you come across a troll, hit the “ignore” button, and move on to someone who is actually curious about Christ.
Exodus 7:22; Matthew 13:15; Matthew 7:6; Proverbs 26:4
2. Don’t spike the football. Here’s the temptation: You’ve grown so tired of the same, lame arguments, you want to shoot them down with vengeance. Or you’re convinced your witty one-liner is clever enough to end all objections. It won’t. People go to social media to think, but not to be convinced they’re wrong. Arguments are never won on social media. And in your effort to score the final point, you’ll only come across as arrogant and snide.
Luke 18:9; Ephesians 4:15; Proberbs 15:1; James 3:13-18
3. Don’t shoot Jesus in the foot. Scripture says other believers are all a part of the Body of Christ. Some are honorable, others smell. Like a foot. But any part of the Body is a still part of His Body. So take your complaints about Lutherans, or evangelicals, or worship leaders, or youth pastors, or whomever you have a beef with … to your brothers and sisters in person, the spirit of Matthew 18. Don’t criticize or mock them in a Facebook post. When you do, you don’t make the foot look bad; you make the Body look bad.
1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Matthew 18:15; Galatians 6:1-4
4. Do speak the truth in love. Make this your top, guiding principle. Still tell the truth – you don’t have to avoid calling sin what it is because of some phony “tolerance.” Jesus didn’t. But you do have to speak in love. That means caring for others more than you care about being “right.” That means you don’t post the snotty meme designed to show others how stupid they are. Don’t even “like” or “heart” those things. On social media, where cold-hearted comments are the norm, you will stand out and have far more impact for Christ when you’re one of the few who speaks like Him.
Ephesians 4:15; Proverbs 25:15, Proverbs 16:24; 2 Corinthians 5:16-20
5. Do limit yourself. Social media is like a vacuum always sucking up more of your time. And while there is plenty of opportunity online for planting seeds, there is very little opportunity to harvest. Sure, Facebook theology and apologetics debates are stimulating, but one word of the gospel spoken face-to-face is worth 140 tweets. So set limits. Put the smartphone down, and take a plate of cookies to your neighbor. The best witness you have for Christ is already waiting for you, right next door.
Titus 3:9; Ephesians 5:15-16; Matthew 25:35-40; Matthew 9:37-38
Drew Zahn is communications director for The FAMiLY LEADER