Peter said, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense [apologia; apologetics] to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15)
This is the tenor and main point of the article, CHRISTIANS ARGUING WITH CHRISTIANS ON SOCIAL MEDIA: A REAL INTEREST IN THE SALVATION OF THE LOST?…. I encourage you to read it. I put it here so people would read it, and so I would be reminded of it and read it again myself.
It’s far too easy to say things on social media that we wouldn’t think of saying face to face in conversation with someone. If we don’t respond to people with gentleness and respect, as Peter urges us, we are not responding in love. We might as well not respond at all.
We live in a reactionary world like never before, exasperated by social media that gives us the instant gratification of an immediate response for every thought that crosses our minds. Don’t do it!
Social media is designed for instant gratification. The algorithms are purposely designed to evoke an immediate response. Social media marketing is aimed at stirring up your emotions to get you to respond, good or bad (they don’t care). Our knee-jerk reactions, especially to contentious comments and posts, are often unkind, judgmental, harsh or worse.
We need to be more self controlled than that. We need to be more self-sacrificial, resisting that desire for immediate gratification for the good of the Gospel. We can pick up our crosses and follow Jesus in this social media age by dying to that desire for the instant response.
We need to be salt and light. Salt accentuates the taste of food, but it does that subtly. Too much salt overwhelms and destroys the flavor of the food. Just the right amount accents and brings out the flavor. People are much more apt to take notice of what we say and take it to heart if we say it with gentleness and respect, as Peter admonishes us.
Light illuminates. Too often we demonstrate heat without a great deal of light. It isn’t our job to convict people of their sin or even to convince them of the rightness of our positions. The Holy Spirit is well-equipped to do the convicting in peoples’ hearts. We just need to be faithful to speak the truth, but we need to do it in love – always in love.
God’s word does not go out and come back void, but our idea of how people should respond and what it means that God’s word does not come back void may not be accurate. We may want every post to be a mic-drop moment, but God doesn’t always work that way.
When Isaiah was given the commission to speak God’s word to the people, he was told they wouldn’t listen. It wasn’t Isaiah’s responsibility to make sure they listened. It was his responsibility simply to speak and to let God do His work. If nobody listened, still Isaiah was being faithful in what God called him to do.
Are we always speaking God’s word? We are finite beings. We might not always have it right. We should have the humility to realize that.
Our love for other people, on the other hand, is always “true”. How we treat people will always shine through and have an impact. Our greatest apologetic is the love of God. Love covers a multitude of sins.
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3