I’m a teacher and one of the subjects I teach is computer science. Not long ago a friend asked me what I thought the biggest challenge for the body of Christ is in this digital age. I didn’t have to think about this one at all.
I firmly believe that our biggest challenge is found in Jesus’ words in his Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:9 we find Jesus saying this, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
But what does that mean for us?
Like it or not we are citizens of a digital world. And that reality brings both positives and negatives.
First, I want to make sure we’re clear that technology is neither good nor bad. Like anything in this world that God has allowed us to create, its value lies in how it is used. Which is part of the challenge for being a peacemaker. It doesn’t take long to see that technology is often used in negative ways, especially on social media. In large part that is simply a reflection of the brokenness of this world. That’s the environment we are trying to speak into and we cannot control that.
So we have a great challenge to speak truth and love in a humble manner to all we interact with. This so contrary to most of what we see online these days.
In some ways it is easier to say what a peacemaker is not. A peacemaker is not a troll who intentionally makes inflammatory statements to get a reaction. A peacemaker does not attack others for differing beliefs. A peacemaker does not make reactionary statements without consideration and thoughtfulness.
Generally speaking, I don’t have an issue with making a statement about things I believe or feel passionate about. But I do believe that we should carefully consider how we state things and how we respond to others who may question those beliefs.
I have a friend that believes quite differently than I do about politics. And we are both followers of Christ. I don’t mind him stating his beliefs despite our differences. But I have challenged him to tone down the rhetoric and consider how others are hearing his words. Not so that he would change, but hopefully that he would consider a more humble and peaceful approach to the discussion. Let’s face it, when we feel passionately about something we can be quite brash and defensive. Thankfully, that friend took my words to heart and changed the tone of what he was saying, not what he was saying, just the tone, particularly in his responses to others.
Here are a couple of quick things to consider in our online interactions with others.
First, what tone am I communicating with? Is it antagonistic, angry, thoughtful, loving, etc.
Second, am I being too quick to defend myself or am I taking the time to really hear what the other person is saying and why they believe what they do?
Third, am I glorifying God or myself in how I’m responding to others?
Finally, is my response demonstrating love and care for the person I’m responding too?