Tips for Social Media Discussions

            I was reminded this week once again of how pointless social media can be beyond superficial contacts and small talk. The social media channels and programs have their purpose. They are great ways to stay in touch with people who are far away and share events that are coming up. However, some have desired to use social media as places where deep discussions are held on theology, philosophy, and politics. This is equivalent to the armchair quarterbacks yelling their instructions to the coaches on the sidelines about what plays should be done. They have no real understanding about what is going on but are convinced they are right. Engaging in these discussions is a practice in futility. I know of no one who has ever changed their position on anything based on the interchange of ideas on social media.
            Placed in between Jesus’ discussion on judging others by first dealing with a person’s own sin before addressing that of other people and speaking of how gracious God is by giving His children what they need is an interesting proverb recorded in Matthew 7:6, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces” (NKJV).
            Solomon was inspired to write something similar that is recorded in Proverbs 9:7-12,
7 “He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself, and he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself. 8 Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; rebuke a wise man, and he will love you. 9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. 10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. 11 For by me your days will be multiplied, and years of life will be added to you. 12 If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, and if you scoff, you will bear it alone.” (NKJV)
            Verses seven and eight are exactly what happens when engaging the world on social media with anything having to do with theology especially. The Christian who is attempting to share biblical truth often does more harm to themselves and is shamed rather than accomplishing what their intent was in entering the discussion. That does not mean that we as believers remain silent and allow the world to continue talking in circles of nonsense. Engaging in discussions on social media must be done with prayer, grace, and deep love for people who are wise in their own eyes.
            Here are some tips for engaging people on social media regardless of the platform or program:
1. Remember everyone, including ourselves, is not free from sin (Romans 3:10-18).
2. It is impossible to argue anyone into the kingdom of God because only God has the power to change a person’s heart through faith by God’s grace. Therefore, the primary focus is not the topic at hand, but introducing them to Christ, the Son of the living God (John 3:16-18, 14:6; Hebrews 11:6).
3. If you do feel led to join in a discussion, it is best to private message the person to set up a time to meet face to face or video chat if distance makes getting together impossible. (Luke 19:1-9; John 4:1-42)
4. Be willing to listen more than you speak, ask questions rather than make commends, and place the burden of proof on those who reject God. (James 1:19-26).
            These will help you as a believer and committed follower of Christ to graciously deal with people who are convinced of their own righteousness and intelligence. Introduce people to Christ by how you live and what you say and do, then let the Lord do what only He can do and bring salvation to the heart of a person.
            Praying beyond the physical:
Father, help me lean upon You and not my knowledge and understanding so I will know how to answer others.
Jesus, teach me to live more like You daily so Your character is evident in all I say and do.
Spirit, hold my tongue and make it submission to Your influence so I say only what glorifies the Father and Son.
Pastor Tom

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