Christians need to step up or step off
(of social media)
A friend recently expressed his outrage at the injustices in the world and the lack of Christian voices that are speaking out against them. “Where, and who, is our Dietrich Bonhoeffer?” To be honest, I don’t know, but I do know this: historically it has been the role of the church to be the conscience of the community. As Martin Luther King Jr. said,
“There was a time when the church was very powerful. It was during that period that the early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was the thermostat that transformed the mores of society.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
We need to step up to our role in society
Recently the church has been outstripped by other voices, many of whom are celebrities. Sometimes a celebrity gets it right, but other times, but certain celebrities being the voice of morality is like a pig telling you how to stay clean. Some celebrities telling us how to do right is like a toddler telling an adult how to do our taxes. It’s not that celebrities are always wrong. In fact, they’re often right. The problem is again an epistemological one. The authority for their opinions about what counts as moral or immoral, or justice or injustice, etc. generally goes only as deep as their own opinions.
Christianity has the advantage of clarity so that we’re not tossed back and forth between opinions. We have clarity because we have an authority and a source of our morality: God. And we have the definitions of our morality spelled out for us in black and white in the Bible. It is our Judeo-Christian ethic that has guided society to many, if not most, of our significant accomplishments in terms of value to human life. The world needs us to reassert our values as a touchstone for what is good and right as it pertains to issues of the treatment of women, the impoverished, foreigners, war policy and justification, and on and on. But where is that voice? Who are our Bonhoeffers? Is it you?
But first, we need to step up to our identity
What’s far more important than our words however, is our identity. From our identity comes our vocation: what we do and what we say. In other words, we need to focus less about what to do and more on who we are. Doing good is important, but being good is fundamental.
I recently wasted a part of my life by reading an online argument about a humanitarian issue that’s become a point of political divide. In this argument people used an unholy mix of predispositions, prejudices and parroting of oppositely biased news sources and then either offhandedly alluded to the Bible, like, “If you were enlightened, you’d agree with me.” or very sanctimoniously posturing that their position is God’s. I hate that! I hate that more than leg day, I hate that more than musicals. It’s like accidentally drinking curdled milk, revolting and gut wrenching. Their point may have even been right, but they were wrong for using God as nothing more than an exclamation point to their personal position.
No room for hypocrisy
But here’s what I noticed and I’ll bet you can identify. The argument was on Facebook and I knew all of the people who were arguing! You know when a person who calls people, “brothers and sisters” hasn’t darkened the doorway of a church in years. You know when a person who says, “This is what the Lord wants!” has something in their life that they’re refusing to yield to the Lord in. There is a lot of hypocrisy on social media.
A lot of well-meaning Christians shoot themselves and their position in the foot by underestimating how much people know about their personal lives. God, and others, care more about your character, your integrity and if you’re authentically orienting your life around how God says to live, than your opinion on any given matter. DO NOT give me your opinion and presume to speak for God about what’s going on OUT THERE unless you listen to him when he talks to you about what’s going on IN HERE, in your inner life.
[tweetshare tweet=”God, and others, care more about your character, your integrity and if you’re authentically orienting your life around how God says to live than your opinion on any given matter.” username=”JRothwilson”]
So what should I do?
The second of three things to know before posting your position on social media is that if you’re going to speak up, you’d better step up. Don’t step off of social media! Become a genuine change agent in every sphere of society by being the change that you want to see. If you want people to think, then be thoughtful. If you want people to be kind, then be kind. If you want people to be just, do justice.
[tweetshare tweet=”If you want people to think, then be thoughtful. If you want people to be kind, then be kind. If you want people to be just, do justice.” username=”JRothwilson”]
How about this for a change? If you’re bold enough, share one of your flaws with your social network. Sure, there are some haters out there, but many good people will take the opportunity to extend grace to you. People are also drawn in by vulnerability because it says some things about you. It says that you’re bigger than your flaws, that you’re authentic and honest and that you can be trusted with other peoples’ vulnerability. This breaks up hard soil for the planting of seeds of thought and eventually, real change.
[tweetshare tweet=”Vulnerability breaks up hard soil for the planting of seeds of thought and eventually, real change.” username=”JRothwilson”]