Quick Links Quick Links

Not Pot-stirrers but Peacemakers Matthew 5:9

by Adam Faughn

     I have sat on this post for more than a week, trying to think of the best way to say it. However, some things my precious Leah has been saying the last few days prompted me to get these thoughts out of my head. My prayer is that they are read thoughtfully and prayerfully by every Christian.

     As we watch so many controversial things going on around us (to wear a mask or not, racial injustice, protests vs. riots, tearing down statues, etc.), Christians obviously have very strong thoughts on any and all of these issues. That’s all fine, so long as we are willing to listen and study these things and not just dig in our heels on things that are nothing more than opinion.

     Certainly, some of this is cut-and-dry. Racism, for example, is wrong and sinful. However, specifics of how to solve injustice or systemic racism? We can differ with best practices and steps, can’t we? And disagreement over specific steps does not make a person with whom I disagree racist. It makes us both people who see a wrong and are trying to think through how to make it right.

     The same could be said about lockdowns, the wearing of masks, limits to protesting, patriotism, and many more things we see people–even Christians–becoming more and more vitriolic about each day.

     But here is really what I want to say: our role as Christians is not to have the loudest and most obnoxious voice. It never has been, and it never will be. Too many of us are thinking that we have to share a constant stream of posts on controversial issues to make ourselves seem to be right or to shame people with whom we disagree.

     Then, when there *is* inevitable disagreement, we get louder, more sarcastic, more biting, and even more filled with hatred. Is this really what we want to be known for?

I am not suggesting that we never speak to controversial things. We should, but we should also do so remembering some Biblical principles: 

  1. Our role is not to be pot-stirrers. It is to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9). Is it really making peace to weigh in on every controversy with which you disagree and to do so with biting sarcasm or even vitriol?
  2. Our speech is to “always be gracious, seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6). Did you notice the word “always?” Even on social media? Always. Even when something is really controversial? Always. Even when I feel incredibly passionate about an issue? Always. Is it gracious to dig your heels in when you know the heart of the other person and disagree just to disagree? Is it gracious to lash out at someone you are Facebook friends with, but who you don’t really know just to try to prove your point?
  3. We are to be balanced and talk of the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). Speak to the issues of the day; that’s fine, and we need to in order to be “salt” and “light.” But if that is *all* we do, we are not showing people all that God has to say for their lives. If you’ve shared 50 posts in a row on masks, for example, that’s great, but should you not also share something about what one must do to be saved or about how God loves people? (Even Galatians, which basically has one major theme, talks about baptism, for example!) No matter how important the issue, we cannot be hobby-horse riders. The world needs the entire Gospel; not just one issue.
  4. We dare not “grumble against one another” (James 5:9). Our grumbling with brothers and sisters in Christ not only is a sin in itself, it weakens our ability to reach out to others. Who would ever want to be part of a group that just dukes it out in a public forum like Facebook?

      So, what are we to do? If we are to engage on social media, including matters pertaining to the issues of the day, here are some thoughts.

  1. Share things, but make sure they are (1) true, (2) well-thought-out, and (3) balanced. Do not share just to fan the flames of controversy or to show how “dumb” or “ignorant” the other side is. All that does is widen the divide.
  2. Be gracious enough to realize that one post or article (or comment) cannot possibly address an entire issue. Too often, we read something and then start our comment with “but what about…”, all the while not being gracious to take what *was* said into our thinking. Take the information presented and evaluate it, but do not think every post has to address every angle of every issue. Such is literally impossible.
  3. If you disagree with something, do not comment, at least, not without some serious thought. Instead, how about this: Take your conversation to a more personal way of communication. You are Facebook friends: use Messenger; even video chat! It is easy to fire off a comment (then get into a comment war that typically devolves into nothing good), but it is far more difficult to dig in your heels when you are communicating one-on-one, especially if you are looking the person in the eyes.
  4. Remember the purity of the Church. You may think someone is wrong. You may think a picture represents an uncaring attitude toward masks (and, thus, health), or injustice, or social justice, or whatever issue. But to turn that into a shot at a fellow Christian, a congregation of the Lord’s people, or even the Church as a whole is doing nothing but harming the body of Christ. Speak to that person privately about your concerns. Don’t tear down the Church in public…not even one little bit.
  5. Stop thinking that you have to be louder to win. Just because you share more doesn’t mean you are right. Just because someone stops commenting doesn’t mean you have won. Shutting people up may make you look superior, but it may have cost you a chance to win someone for the Lord later or encourage a fellow Christian later. You may have won a battle and lost the eternally-important war.
  6. Teach your children how to handle all this with integrity. Your kids are consuming loud voices as the experts. They are thinking that, the more influence you have, you must be right. The Church has always been in the minority, but the message of the Gospel has always been right, even if it wasn’t popular. Teach your children to look to those who graciously, thoughtfully, and carefully present the Truth; not to those who are just louder longer.

     I know this is long and it doesn’t solve every issue. But my heart is breaking for what I see people doing to fellow Christians on social media. I’m begging us to stop and remember that our goal in life is to bring God glory and to exalt His Son in all things. Let’s stop trying to win arguments and start remembering to win souls to Him.

 

                                Adam Faughn is minister at Central Church of Christ, Paducah, KY

 




Leave a Reply

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33