I never thought that the word “battleground” is one I’d associate with social media, but here we are another week, another Facebook fight between Christians. For all the good that social media has done and is capable of doing, it’s certainly done a lot of bad in the realm of relations among Christians. Places like Facebook and Twitter have done a great job at providing a platform for Christians to slander, backbite, and devour one another. What ought to be the world’s biggest mission field has become the world’s largest Laundromat for us to publicly air out our dirty laundry before watchful bystanders.
We’d be wrong to say that “this is all social media’s fault” though. The problem with social media is not in its presence, but in those that post to it. When Christians fight each other, regardless of the platform, Christians are to blame. Social media is merely a symptom of a greater problem: Many Christians seem to enjoy fighting one another. Today, I want to talk about why and what we need to do in order to stop.
We Value “Being Right” Over Finding Truth
Our culture wants to be “right.” The subject of the discussion doesn’t matter, what matters is winning. How do we win?
We win by defending our position to the death.
We win by being intimidating our opponent into submission by being louder than they are.
We win by refusing to acknowledge our ignorance on a subject or the merit of an opposing viewpoint.
We win by sharing articles that brazenly express our beliefs while adding nothing to it ourselves except for a bunch of dumb emojis and the word “This.”
As much as we talk about having the truth and desiring the truth, we’ve got to admit that we have adopted these same “winning” strategies. The difference between us and the rest of the world is that when the culture shouts and argues they push people away from political ideologies and sports teams, when we (as Christians) shout and argue we push people away from Christ and towards an eternity without Him.
In conversations where someone claims to have the truth, we must listen. In times where we are confident we have the truth, we need to be respectful in our presentation. In discussions where we disagree with one another we must be loving and patient with one another. If we want to fight less we must value truth more than “You were right, and I was wrong.” Instead of boasting to others that we have the truth and that they are mistaken, we need to pursue truth together as Christian brothers and sisters.
We Value “Being Right” More Than People
Two women from Philippi wanted to be “right” so badly that they divided the church with their arguing. Paul urges them not only to “agree in the Lord” (Phil. 4:2), but to choose selflessness over selfishness. Each of these women desired to have their beliefs validated by others, regardless of what damage it did to their relationship with each other, with the church, and with God.
One of the biggest reasons Christians fight is because we seek the same validation. We want to know that we’re right, and we’re willing to eschew all the attitudes a Christian should have in order to get it. This seeking of validation can manifest itself in many ways.
It shows up when we question the heart and motives of the person we’re arguing with.
It shows up when we sarcastically remark “I don’t know what Bible you’re reading, because Scripture seems to be pretty clear about…”
It shows up when we say “this is the problem with younger/older Christians…”
It shows up when we call into question the character of the person who posted the question or article we’re debating.
It shows up when we take to the comments section instead of privately messaging a Christian brother or sister to discuss the matter at hand.
In our quest to be right we’ve driven wedges between the very people we claim to love. If we really care about our fellow Christians we won’t wage biblical warfare in the comment sections of Facebook. If we really love other Christians we won’t call into question their character or motives for posting an article we don’t completely agree with. If we really value people more than being right we’ll do the hard thing and gently, calmly, and privately approach them to have conversation about something they said or shared. If we want to avoid the fighting we’ll make sure that the person behind the computer screen, not our ego, is top priority.
A Better Way
The tl;dr of this whole article is this: Christians fight other Christians because we’ve lost sight of what truly matters. Our gaze is turned away from the eternal by our desire to be correct, be comfortable, and be accepted within our culture.
We fight because the approval and accolades of the here and now far outweigh the glory that awaits us in the hereafter.
We fight because we have a narrow, cheap view of Christ and His church.
We fight because we love drama with people more than the souls of people.
We fight because we don’t see each other brothers and sisters in Christ who are growing, but as progressives, conservatives, and ultra-liberals who need correction.
We fight because we have forgotten that we’re on the same team, a team that’s supposed to be spending it’s time shining a light into the dark corners of the earth, not each others’ eyes.
Church, aren’t you tired of all the fighting? When will enough be enough? How many times do we need to embarrass ourselves before the watching eyes of nonbelievers on Facebook? How many times do we need to skewer each other over social media before we get sick of the insidious war we’re waging against the body of Christ?
We need to stop. Let’s replace our desire to be correct with a desire to truly know the heart and mind of God. Let’s replace our love of the culture with a greater love of our God. Let’s replace our treasuring of earthly comforts with the visions of heavenly treasures to come. Let’s add to our discussions love, mercy, understanding, patience, and grace. Above all else, please, please, please stop the fighting.
The church is better than this.