Saturday, October 14, 2017

Tweeting with Conviction, Kindness, and Grace

I'm a pretty easy going guy. It takes a lot to get me riled up, and I generally like to see folks, especially my friends, getting along. While disagreements are a part of life (and very often a big and important part of theological life), I think we can often do a better job than we do sometimes in showing grace to those with whom we disagree.

Social media is a wonderful tool, yet it generates a unique dynamic. Through platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, we can form friendships or at least allegiances with people we may have never met.

The thing is, social media is a very two dimensional relationship. What I mean by that is, that we lose a lot of interpersonal communication such as facial expressions and body language which come across in face-to-face communication. Thus, what might not be intended as snark can come across that way.

Another interesting dynamic I see on Twitter is that very often people are either all in with someone (or a group) or all against. It's okay to have some differences. In fact, I believe some theological tension is healthy as it keeps us all honest in our convictions. We do, however, have to be honest in and about our convictions.

Most importantly, we can be brothers and sisters in Christ, and we can be friends without being theological clones of each other.

I have a lot of people who I respect in ministry—some I would even call ministerial heroes with who I disagree with on some major issues.

But, I digress.

I rarely get into debates (or arguments) on Twitter, but I see a lot. I see some that make me cringe.

I see a lot of people who have strong convictions, and are not afraid to let the world (or at least their followers) know about them.

I also see some who over generalize and over characterize whatever view is opposite of theirs to try and make their point stronger.

I see a lot of snark.

A lot.

I see supports of one soteriological conviction throwing snark at proponents of another.

I see supporters of one eschatological conviction throwing snark at proponents of another.

I see supporters of one form of church government throwing snark at proponents of another.

I see supporters of maroon carpet in baptist churches throwing snark at those in favor of blue carpet.

(Okay, maybe not that last one.)

What I'm thankful for is that—at least in my Twittersphere—nobody is arguing about the inerrancy, infallibility, or authority of Scripture. Praise God!

But, what I want to say to most of the Twitter-feuds I see is, "C'mon guys. Chill."

But I generally stay out of it.

We are all brothers and sisters in Christ. We are all sinners saved by grace. Let us try and show grace to each other a little more often, especially concerning issues secondary to the gospel.

We shouldn't tweet anything we'd be ashamed for Jesus to read (because, don't forget, he reads all of our tweets anyway).

Before tweeting (or engaging in a debate) let's all think about this: What would a non-Christian who reads this interaction think? Is Christ being honored? If not, maybe we should hold off. Sit on our thoughts for a little while. Write a blog post, and allow comments (maybe). Write a paper and present it somewhere. Publish an article in a journal supporting our position. Have a face-to-face debate with an opponent. But please, let's try to show some grace to each other as Christians when we are interacting with each other in public.

The world is watching us, so let's make sure we are honoring Christ with our words (and our tweets).

There are times we should engage in twitter discussions about controversial things.

When we do, we should tweet with conviction, but also tweet with kindness, and tweet with grace remembering that we lose an often important piece of communication dynamics through text-only communication.

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