Many of you responded positively to my last post, calling for Christians to “shine like stars” online and use our social media, blogs and other online venues to share our hope with the world. But this is where the rubber meets the road: once we’ve agreed that sharing Christ in our online lives is important, how do we do so?
My contention is that this is easier than many think. I’m a writer and editor by trade, so forgive me if this sounds pretentious, but I think that one of the easiest ways to show our world a glimpse of Christ is by communicating well. I don’t mean that we all have to be a Max Lucado or a Billy Graham, but we do have to think about what we say and how we say it.
Here’s an example: if a person comments on my Facebook wall or my blog, and demands to know why I believe in Jesus, do you think he would respond better “2 a post like this, bcuz I want 2 type quick and reply 2 u fast” or to a careful, thoughtful well-written and respectful answer to his question?
The online universe has, in many ways, robbed us of our humanity. It has devolved our language into a serious of CAPS LOCK imbibed yelling matches and cowardly cruel comments. It has created a fickle impatience within us, a desire to write quickly instead of well and allow our iPhone’s autocorrect to have more to do with our thought-life than careful weighing.
1 Peter 3:14-16 says: “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.’ But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
If we, as the people of God, can rise above our culture’s obsession with speed and quantity, we can give our answers the time, respect (and, yes, good grammar!) that they deserve. This allows us to be sure that our intentions are clear, that gentleness and respect come through above all, and that our answers can stand up to any slander.
Many people will scoff at this post, thinking that I’m just an English nerd with an axe to grind about the text-message-speak of my peers. But I ask you to hear me out, and question in your own hearts whether there might not be more to this argument.
For if indeed we are asked to give an answer to anyone who asks, and if we are commanded to speak truth in love, do this with gentleness and respect, shine like stars and be a light to the world – we should do so in the most winsome, well-written and well-crafted way we know how. For by endeavoring to blog, use social media, comment, and create an online presence that does not debase itself into the undersides of a media-saturated culture, we stand for something powerful.
Think of it this way – if a press secretary to the President of the United States was seen typing up replies to critics in text-message-speak or hurriedly hurling back unreasoned retorts to online nay-sayers, everyone would balk. We would assert (and rightfully so) that such behavior is not appropriate for a person who represents the President, and that he should be more careful with his language and demeanor.
We, as Christians are all press secretaries for the Most High. Our hurriedly composed and ungracious online chatter is seen and judged by the world around us, even if we don’t realize it. Just as the President’s Press Secretary must always communicate carefully, we should also choose our words with precision, discuss our ideas gracefully and represent our Lord with dignity.
I understand that this is intimidating to many of us, but let’s not shrink back because of fear. Even those who feel inadequate or uncertain about their writing or speaking abilities can make a great difference in the world, simply by being attentive and thoughtful with our words.
So I encourage you to think before you write, respond or engage online. Read your blog-posts and make sure that your thoughts are sound before you hit “publish”. It seems frivolous to be so concerned with spelling and grammar, but aren’t we commanded to “do everything as unto the Lord”? (Colossians 3:22-24) I think that counts for Facebook status updates, too.
Read also Shining Like Stars Online: We are Sent