It is easy to be drawn into commentary on social media, given the many articles and issues we come across each day. Responsible and incisive commentary can help our witness for Christ, and may sometimes help us to enact justice. There are, however, some associated dangers.
Our modern ‘cancel culture’ seems to affirm free speech only when we have the ‘right’ speech. Speaking out is generally done with the best of intentions, but many have identified a fear of undermining valued relationships when venturing into difficult subjects. We may think sacred cows make the best hamburgers, but then find out just how fond of their cattle some people are. It is important not to avoid commentary due to fear but, equally, we need to express our views carefully and objectively, giving every chance for them to be well received.
One of the most hotly-defended rights among Christians is that of speaking out against people perceived to have commented or acted wrongly. It has often been said that Matthew 18:15-20 is one of the most violated passages in the Bible, given how few people seek a private audience and with the right motives. Sometimes, we presume to speak for God, when others who serve Him simply have different opinions or motives that need to be talked out, and away from the glare of Facebook or other social media platforms.
It is difficult, though, to find the words or the time to have conversations about difficult subjects. Understandably, we would possibly rather defend the right to have a view than defend the view itself. Naturally, tough conversations need to be held in safe environments, but would we not be the richer for seeking to discuss our differing views deeply, especially with fellow Christians?
Finally, I would question whether we should ever use social media to speak disparagingly of others we know or have relationship with. In 2 John 12 and 3 John 13-14 we see that, although there is much we often want to write, we sometimes need to wait until we can speak face-to-face!
Building trust, respect, and understanding needs us to adopt a posture of humility, but also to find time we don’t think we have, in order to have life’s important conversations. For some, an apology or some intentional relationship building might be a necessary precursor.
I wonder whether there are particular conversations you might need to stop having, or others you might need to start having, today.