For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. ~ 2 Corinthians 2:15, HCSB
We move and communicate daily on our favorite social media networks and do it before a global audience. When we declare our identity in Christ, the world leans in. It watches us a little closer. Skeptical about faith and this God we serve, it looks to see if we carry the baggage it’s pre-assigned us.
Sadly, in moments of controversy we sometimes forget that our inheritance was awarded by grace and we jump in too fast and affirm the worst of what the world likes to believe about those Christians. In the flash of an irrational moment, we hit the keys before we hit our knees and abandon a sacred chance to be the unexpected fragrance of Christ.
Controversy in the digital town hall around issues of faith is becoming one of the greatest battlefields a Christian encounters. Interpretations of biblical truth provoke extreme emotions and reactions. Well-intended men and women who desire to be defenders of the faith, too often charge so hard they end up at a destination that is ugly and hurtful. Discernment is abandoned, and quick reactions trump deliberate responses.
When brothers and sisters in Christ move with reckless haste to post their opinions, they risk damaging more than they redeem. Unintended casualties and consequences abound. It’s heartbreaking when it happens.
Whenever you experience that uncontrollable rush to mount your soapbox, STOP. Recognize it’s time to return to scripture and follow God’s guidance on how to respond:
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. James 1:19 – 23, NIV
But how do you effectively fill this time between quick to listen and slow to speak? Here are a few thoughts:
1. Take personal inventory. Go deep and check your motives first. Know what’s really behind your energy to publicly respond or react to what you’ve observed or how you are feeling. Pray and be certain this is God’s assignment for you.
2. Evaluate your potential impact. Ensure the issue you’re about to confront or comment on is worthy. Weigh the value and sort out carefully the impact of your words. In a digital world, you can’t call back what you release. Guess what? The DELETE button is a myth.
3. Be specific. Isolate what the real issues are and what’s at stake. Try to be as direct and clear as possible. Clarity brings alignment and closure quickly. You’ll seldom regret it when you subtract emotion and infuse grace.
4. Use the Golden Rule. Deliver your posts as if you are the one who is about to receive it. Help, don’t humiliate. If whatever you are writing is not good, kind and true – do you really want to go there? Revisit Philippians 4:8. Meditate on it.
5. Think problem, not person. Always speak to the problem and believe the best about the person. Remember, Jesus tried to keep it simple: love God and love people. Get that right and the rest falls into place. God tells us not to judge because candidly, He’s got that job covered.
6. Extend grace. Look in the mirror often and don’t forget what you’ve seen, where you’ve been, and whose you are by grace. Be ready to give freely what you’ve been given. Always grant people the space they need to turn around and lovingly rejoice when they do!
7. Build the bridge. Encourage and affirm what’s good as much as possible. Be the bearing of the olive branch and strive to reach reconciliation. Soft answers diffuse wrath. Peace is possible without compromising truth. Jesus told us, “Blessed are the peacemakers…”
And finally, I encourage you to never allow the beauty and simplicity of the gospel to get distorted and lost in a vortex of theological arguments or heated doctrinal smack-downs. Instead, stay centered on the pure and holy intention of God’s vision, Christ’s mission, and your role in His great commission.
Pray. Pray. Pray. Be intentional about your presence online and the One you represent. Daily ask God to use you, especially as you craft that next post for Facebook or Twitter, to be His sweet aroma in this world.
Living to serve,