How Not to Be a Christian Jerk Online

Photo Credit: Thoth, God of Knowledge

   Abortion, gay marriage, racism, immigration, judicial reform, and whether the Super Bowl Emmy should go to Katy Perry or the “Left Shark.”     
   Controversy is tough.  Most of us have strong opinions about some or all of these.  Many of us want to voice our thoughts publicly, especially on social media.  
   But for Christians, the intersection of controversy and social media is filled with land mines and booby traps.  We can easily earn the label of “Jerk” for ourselves, for our church, and for Jesus.  

   Here are a few tips on how to handle controversy well:

1. Listen first. 

As much as possible, try to understand deeply those who disagree with you before trying to convince anyone of your own position.  Good listening usually reveals that we are closer to each other than we first thought.

2. Be gentle. 

Err on the side of kindness and grace.  Especially online, our words often sound harsher than we intend.

3. Be humble.

Don’t assume God agrees with you.  Always leave room for the possibility that you are wrong.

4. Don’t judge.

Yes, we need to discern, but the world has a Judge - and it’s not us.  We especially need to be careful that we don’t expect nonChristians to abide by Christian standards.  They didn't sign up for our rules.

   Social media is fun (most of the time) and offers the possibility for all kinds of good (along with the trash).  Let’s be wise about how we act in person and online.  We are re-presenting Jesus to others in everything we do. 

May God’s grace live in you richly.