Sunday, February 12, 2017

Welcome to the Jungle: Righteousness and Social Media

I don't have to tell you that the general trend of conversation on social media has become less civil, do I?  Not just impolite, on both sides of the aisle I have seen Christians carried away into bitter and hateful speech.   Before you ask, there are Christians who vote both Democrat and Republican, not to mention independents like myself.  

Even more recently I have heard people suggest that the answer to the problem is to simply delete our Facebook accounts or to stay out of politics all together.  I sympathize.  On my personal account I have dealt with the vitriol by not responding to other's political posts and posting less and less as the bile grew.  

Then I saw a friend who was hurting; all metaphor aside politics has been giving her a stomach ache.  The word compassion in Greek means "From the gut." She is living it out.  As we chatted,  I realized I was part of the problem.  In my silence, I had let her and others believe that they were alone.

By my absence, I had contributed to the division.  As a Christian I understand that my Savior is divisive.  He is the way.  Without Him we can not know the Father.  He is the truth.  There is in fact absolute truth.  He is the giver of life and light and peace.  But the idea that to be a faithful follower of Christ requires a certain political affiliation is a division I am not willing to participate in. 

Jesus lived in a world rife with political conflict but he did not look to politics to determine who could follow him.  Matthew the tax collector and Simon the Zealot were both apostles. Israel was under the direct military control of a foreign governor.  Their religious freedoms were limited (for example the High Priest was a political appointee).  Yet politics never seemed to be Jesus' focus. 

Jesus was holy in spite of the swirling politics and hostile goverment. To those Christians around the world who are suffering under truly hostile governments, this is good news.  It's also good news to Christians who fear now that we are losing (have lost)  our status as a "Christian" nation. (For more information on how to live successfully under a hostile government in holy ways consider the stories of Daniel and Joseph).

But to those of us who are still privileged to participate and have a voice in our governments, what are we to do?  Do we need to be divide by politics?  Do we need to ignore them?  Stand in silence? What are we to make of Jesus' words and example?

For instance, Jesus called us to radical moral purity ("Go and sin no more")  as well as radical love, forgiveness and peacemaking.  Jesus called us to be meek, shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16).  Jesus said, "love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also;" (Luke 6:27-28). Jesus had a social agenda.  He fed the hungry and healed the sick.  He fulfilled Isaiah 61 bringing freedom and justice. Jesus had a spiritual agenda.  He knew that no kind of earthly suffering matches the glory that awaits.  He went to the cross as the ultimate example of that truth.

The question is how does all this translate into my practical behavior on social media and in interaction with those around me who are talking about policy and politics?  On Monday I'll post 6 passages that I am using as a rubric to help me decide not only what God would have me support but as importantly how He would have me do so.  Maybe it will help you too. 


  1. I'm reminded of Micah 6:8 as I read your words, because I often use it as a filter for all kinds of areas: He has shown you, [put our name here!] what is good and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Even on social media!

  2. That's a great verse to use as a filter! I have seen a lot lately that seems neither humble, merciful nor just!

  3. I try not to get involved into the debates but I do pray for those involved.

  4. Most of the time unless I am asked I tend to try and keep my opinions to myself. But I think it helps to keep a voice of peace and love in the arena. That's what I'd like to be but I can't always figure out how!