I’m more of a social media observer than I am a participator, but I’m concerned about how my Christian brothers and sisters are engaged in the political discourse. It’s not an easy political or social landscape out there right now. Whatever you agree or disagree on will have harsh critics on the other side. I don’t want to go through issue by issue; anyone who ever even peruses social media has to see the lack of civility. But again, I’m more weirded out by the poor communication amongst believers. I’m not weirded out by the disagreement, though. Many of the issues circling the nation are complex and nuanced and it doesn’t help when each side acts like it’s totally obvious what should be done. So how can we move forward? Everybody thinks they are stating truth just like Jesus would. And even unbelievers are quoting scripture on what we Christians should be doing. Fortunately Jesus actually gave direction to believers on how to interact on Social Media. Obviously He didn’t say it with social media in mind. Yet principles are principles no matter the century or culture. So let’s get into it.
Matthew 10:16 says, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents andinnocent as doves.”
We see these expressions in several spots in the Midrashes (Jewish commentaries.) I can’t think of a better passage to address social media interactions. So let’s break it down.
1) Jesus is sending out His believers as Sheep
Sheep are defenseless animals. They don’t have sharp teeth or claws and are slow as all get-out. Jesus didn’t send believers out to fight His enemies and convert unbelievers under threat of death. Jesus sent sheep into vulnerable territory. Know you are surrounded by dangers.
2) Jesus is sending Believers into this World of Wolves
Jesus doesn’t pretend that we aren’t heading into danger. Wolves are killers. They have one of the strongest bites (hilariously behind hippopotamuses.) They’re pack hunters, and they’re one of the few animals that kill for sport (i.e. they only eat a small portion of what they kill.) The World tries to destroy all the things of Christ – especially believers. They use consensus to try to deny the truths of God. But this World needs the truth, and more importantly needs the Gospel. So we all need to Go.
3) Jesus wants His Sheep to be as Wise as Serpents
Moses referred to the snake as the craftiest of all creatures. They might not have ears to hear, but they are very perceptive. They feel every step in their direction and their eyes are always open and watching. They are good at escaping into the tiniest of cracks in the rocks, but also have the ability to take down the biggest animal. They sit and wait, sometimes for weeks for the right opportunity. Believers aren’t supposed to act stupidly when interacting with this world. They are not to put themselves in harm’s way on purpose. Jesus knows He is sending us amongst wolves but doesn’t want us to jump in their mouths. Our devotion for Christ isn’t based on what pain or persecution we endure. Be on alert. We must use the Holy Spirit’s urging on whether to flee or whether to stay and endure what persecution is forthcoming. But He wants us to act wisely in what we say and what we do so as to not bring on any attack onto ourselves unnecessarily. So often I feel that certain conversations would better be one-on-one. A serpent would never attack a herd of animals. He goes for the one. Perhaps in many instances we could do the same.
4) Jesus wants His Sheep to be as Innocent as Doves
Doves are very kind birds. They don’t ever attack others for infringing on their territory. They will share what they have. They don’t eat our crops but instead eat weeds and seeds and our leftover crumbs. More miraculously doves will always find their way back home (like a homing pigeon.) Sheep will get lost and go astray after walking around the corner. Doves return to their roost over thousands of miles. And the bottom line is they’re beautiful. They’re symbols of innocence and beauty released at weddings and during John Woo films. We all know deep down that they’re just pretty pigeons, but we love them anyway. Christians likewise are to share all we have with others and take nothing from those in this world. Perhaps even more importantly they are to go out into the world and return back home to Jesus. It’s easy to wander and go astray in this world, but be like the dove that always returns back to where it came from. Ultimately we are to be what is good, lovely, innocent, and beautiful in this world. We’re made of the same materials as everyone else, but there’s just something gentle about us. The world is going to look for ways to destroy our character, but it should never be able to find a negative word to say about us.
This verse of Scripture certainly has lots of application with all the various relationships in our life, but today we are looking at social media. Everything controversial you share. Everything divisive you post. Every response you type in a heated thread should answer these 4 criteria. If we cannot say a resounding “YES” to each of them, then we need to stop in our tracks or change our tactics.
1) Am I acting like the Sheep that does not have offensive capability? (or am I the one attacking?)
2) Am I staying on Mission with the Wolves of this World? (or is the result of this fight not going to bring the light onto God’s Kingdom?)
3) Is what I’m saying Wise as a Serpent? (or could it be worded better or more clearly?)
4) Is what I’m saying Innocent as a Dove? (or could it be worded gently or more holy?)
Well, I hope this helped. I want Christians to bring positive change into these broken times, but I fear the world isn’t hearing our message. We are attacking each other in front of the world to see. We aren’t presenting the truths of Scripture with any kind of tact or love. Or we are just abdicating our responsibilities all together and just herding with those that agree with us. The Internet age is fast moving. We must be on the ready for the next wave of attack.
May God bless the words you type.