This post was written by Angie Hooie, a member of the INCM Blog team.
It feels like there is just this heaviness in the air. There’s so much tension on social media. Everyone certainly has an opinion, and we will never all agree on everything.
What do you do with that? How do you handle it, especially from a Biblical perspective? What happens when we’re called to represent Jesus to the world, but we’re too busy fighting to do it? We are supposed to be salt and light, but it feels more like boxing.
Scripture gives us examples of disagreements, which tells us that there is nothing new under the sun. That should give us some encouragement. The Bible also gives us some critical instructions on how to handle those disagreements.
Insight from The Lord’s Prayer
Jesus sets the tone for conflict resolution in Matthew 6. He’s teaching His disciples how to pray. He begins with, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” He continues in verse 11, with “Give us today our daily bread (v. 11),” which shows us this is intended to be a daily prayer. Each day, we should be praying for God’s will to become our own will.
And then, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors (v. 12).” Do you see the wording there? Forgiveness is a daily practice–both receiving it from God, then sharing it with others. What would it look like if, before we even opened any social media, we made a practice of asking God to forgive us for our specific offenses, then forgiving the people that will offend us? Does that blow your mind? Me too.
Think about what would change if we all made it a daily practice to spend time with Jesus, asking for grace so we can freely give grace, before we ever spend any time with anyone else (in person, or on social media). The best time to forgive is before we even get offended.
Jesus doesn’t stop there. He continues: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (v. 14-15).”
Before that, He said, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (v. 13).” One of the biggest temptations we have, and a prime way the enemy likes to attack us, is in our relationship with other people. Nobody really wants to humble themself, to confess that they’re wrong, or to offer grace when wronged. Our natural propensity is to not want to forgive, to prove our stance, to dig in our heels because our opinion is the truth. We fight to win the argument, sometimes at the cost of the relationship.
Here are a few verses that show us what happens when we enter into disagreements:
“Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good but only ruins the hearers.” (2 Timothy 2:14)
“Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.” (2 Timothy 2:23)
“I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.” (Romans 16:17)
“Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if anything you’d think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.” (Philippians 3:16)
What if, even in our disagreements, God has something to teach us? What if there’s heart work that the Lord needs to do inside us? When we are so quick to disagree, because we are so confident in our position, there just might be something better that we are missing.
How do we navigate those conversations with people we love, who have different beliefs? We need to be in God’s Word daily. Let God prepare our hearts. If someone wants to argue, we need to learn how to de-escalate and bring peace. We also have to learn good boundaries. There are some things that we’ll need to let go, realizing the relationship is more important than the disagreement. Or we’ll need to agree to disagree, respecting the other enough to let them be accountable to God, while we also are practicing the same accountability and teachability with our Rabbi.
But how do we handle disagreements on social media? Again, we look back to Scripture. The Bible is full of examples of what can happen if we don’t keep a tight rein on our tongue (as well as our fingertips). We do not need to add fuel to the fire (Proverbs 26:21). Here are some really useful Scriptures to memorize.
- “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Proverbs 15:1).”
- “Kind words are like honey— sweet to the soul and healthy for the body (Proverbs 16:24).”
- “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Ephesians 4:29).”
- “Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom (Proverbs 11:2).”
- “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).”
Not everybody needs an answer or a response. One of the greatest things we can do on social media, and one of the best ways to love others (and God), is not to react.
Remember the Gospel. We are to be a people of multiplication, not division. We are called to maturity, and given God’s very Spirit, to help us grow. But we also have a very real enemy, and he loves to sow division. The greatest weapon we have against him is God’s living and active Word. So get in the Word, and go be salt and light!
Angie has been married for over 21 years, and has 3 kids. She has been volunteering in children’s ministry for over 20 years, and was called into vocational ministry 7 years ago. She oversees 3 campuses and has been deeply involved in growing and expanding her church’s special needs ministry.