How to React When The Internet Blows Up
This week, a Christian opinion article went viral, and predictably, the internet blew up.
The Christian blogosphere and social media was full of toxic air.
The article was more opinion and less Bible truth, and at first glance I thought it was satire, then after a second read, I just shook my head.
I’m not going to name the article. From here on out it will be referred to as “the article that shall be unnamed.” (TATSBU)
I didn’t interact with it on Facebook or any social media, because, frankly, I didn’t want my non-believing friends to see it in my newsfeed and think what was written in it was healthy, normal, Christianity. But more than that, I didn’t want my unbelieving friends to see how other Christians were reacting to the article and think that this was healthy, normal, Christianity either.
This woman, no matter how much I disagree with her, was on the receiving end of personal attacks, insults and ridicule by those who were proclaiming knowledge of the life changing gospel of Jesus Christ. Comments went like this. “That uneducated #*&%*. Doesn’t she know that _____ is not a prerequisite for saving grace?”
To be clear, I disagreed with this article 100%. And when you put something out there, you have to expect public comment. As a Christian blogger, I get that.
But what I don’t “get” is Christian leaders sharing her article and leading the charge of public shaming and ridicule no matter how ridiculous.
On some level, I actually felt bad for the woman who wrote it. I sensed that maybe she lived in deep oppression or in a community where good works were equated with acceptance with God.
But those who know the truth–those who know better–were using their knowledge as a battering ram. It was devoid of love.
Oh, there is a time and place to correct wrong teaching or application. The truth must be guarded and kept.
We have Scriptural basis for this, in the story of Apollos, a man who was teaching boldly what he thought were the things of God, who had to be taken aside and instructed by Aquila and Priscilla. Acts 18:24:
And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.
25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.
26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.
Aquila and Priscilla knew that Apollos was a well-meaning person, but misguided. Imagine if they had ridiculed him publicly in the synagogue? Called him names? Went house to house laughing at him and gossiping about what a fruit cake he was? My mom used to say, “You can be right and still be wrong at the top of your lungs.”
When we disagree with someone, it should be done with respect. It should be done to restore, not destroy. If the people of God can’t treat others as image bearers of Christ, who on this earth will?
If we feel we have knowledge that someone else lacks, we should guard against a proud heart. Knowledge puffs up. Love edifies.
There will always be variations of TATSBU, and by all means, search the scriptures if you are concerned about fidelity to the Word of God. But also remember the Scripture when you respond to someone you disagree with. Remember that we do not get a free pass for unloving things we say while we are processing or working through emotions. We don’t get a free pass for being ungodly when we believe others are unbiblical.
There’s a layer of humility that is needed every time we are offended by something someone else writes. (Which will be often.)
Our commitment to the Word of God will be tested and challenged (and observed by the watching world) in our reactions to what we perceive are other people’s failures.
Just something to think about as you navigate the messy waters of the internet and articles like TATSBU.