How do you use social media?
Some people approach social media as builders. They use their voices to encourage others, to share insights, to invite conversations that foster community. They seem to see social media as an opportunity for advancing the cause of peace in the world, avoiding disputes to promote charity. They are voices of refreshment, cheering souls through their posts.
Others approach social media as breakers. They use their voices to tear down falsehoods, to highlight problems in need of attention, to bring clarity to reality in the face of confusion. They seem to see social media as an opportunity for advancing the cause of truth in the world, entering disputes to promote integrity. They are voices of reason, challenging souls through their posts.
I suppose most of us favor one of these approaches over the other. Further, I’d guess most of us tend to bristle a bit at the other approach. Those who seek to build may be frustrated because others seem opposed to peace, while those who seek to break may be frustrated because others seem ignorant of tension. Misunderstanding colors our view of a brother or sister, and we make rash assumptions about motives rather than listening and learning from one another. We may acknowledge diversity within the body of Christ yet still think that anyone who operates differently than we do is wrong.
I think both voices are necessary, however. Paul calls believers to serve faithfully and to seek peace (Romans 12), but he also works to destroy falsehoods and to maintain the standard of faith (2 Corinthians 10). There is an appropriate time for both actions.
This balance is difficult to maintain. It’s easy to assume that a sister or a brother is at fault because they employ their platform a bit differently than you. We think of each other as either too hard or too soft, too exclusive or too inclusive, too affirming or too condemning. We judge according to our strengths and weaknesses rather than according to right judgment. We paint with broad brush strokes, overlooking nuance.
Thankfully, Jesus sets the example for us. In some situations, he encouraged and comforted. In others, he challenged and rebuked. He was gentle and strong, tender and firm. He built up and broke down according to the needs of each situation. And his Spirit enables us to do the same.
I don’t think we necessarily need to change how we use social media (unless we’re getting stuck in an extreme or are forgetting the needed balance). After all, the Spirit gives different gifts for use in the kingdom, meaning our work (and our approaches to the work) will not be uniform. We each enter the body of Christ as unique individuals, with personalities and tendencies that differ from one person to the next. Let us play our part, but let us do so graciously, recognizing diversity within the body of Christ and welcoming the variety of roles within the body. Let’s quit our unwarranted bickering and act like the family we are. And let’s see what God will do as we balance our building and our breaking for the good of others and for the glory of God.
Thanks to Maci for her feedback on a draft of this post.