“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
I recently started a series of blog posts about the epic fails of social media. You can read the first post here. Today I want to hit on a topic that may stir deep emotions. Freedom of Speech. Since social media has taken over the world wide web there seems to be a growing number of experts and critics who love to say what they want. The question is, do we really have a freedom to speak our minds?
Take for instance when there is a major news event that breaks, everyone seems to become an expert at whatever situation is going on. For example, the Zimmerman trial. (Disclaimer: I respect all opinions and realize this is a sensitive issue for some). But, suddenly all of my friends on Facebook and Twitter became lawyers…without even passing the bar exam. Everyone became an instant expert and everyone had the answer. The problem I have is when you disagreed with their opinion, you are dead wrong and/or viewed less upon for having a different view. Sadly, nothing positive ever comes out of the posts and relationships are damaged. Are you building up and encouraging people?
The other growing trend is how many critics have risen from the ashes of society thanks to Facebook and Twitter. Maybe a better term for them would be cowardly critics. Social media has been a launch pad for what would have been people who simply held their opinions to themselves to now – cowardly critics. I call them cowards because that’s what you are when you confront someone via social network. It’s a lot easier to throw stones via the computer then to do it face to face. Lucky for us, the Bible was written when people had to deal with situations like grown adults. “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” – Matthew 18:15
We’ve allowed ourselves to participate in relationships without any real life, person-to-person skills and we can say anything without any repercussions. “It’s my Facebook and I’ll say what I want!” Well…you’re right. But are you using it to encourage and build up other people? To this I say the only true freedom of speech you really have is the freedom to only encourage and build up the people around you. This is your God given freedom. The only problem with that verse is how it ends: “just as you are doing”. To the American Church I say…”Just as you ought to be doing…because you ain’t doing it”
Now…chill out for second. Here’s some helpful hints that I think can help you (and that I share often with Refuge Point Church):
1. Not everyone is going to have the same opinions as you do. In this case, do me a favor and let them have their opinion and keep your opinion to yourself. Here’s what I am saying: Do you know how crummy the world would be if everyone was just like you? Have an opinion…but you do not have the right to quarrel over matters of opinions. (See Romans 14).
2. Stop trying to be an expert about everything and simply be who God created you to be. Should we really have “freedom of speech” if the end result is more division? If you know that your “expert” opinion is going to stir rage…then keep it to yourself. Is your expert advice encouraging? building up people?
3. If you have an issue with someone, using social media as a tool to “confront that person” is not the place. In the end you look like a fool and it shows your level of maturity. (Or lack thereof). Pick up the phone and call them or meet them face to face in a public setting.
4. To sum it all up…May no one ever feel less than a human if they come across your news feed. I think a good question to ask is, “is what I’m about to post on Facebook or Twitter encouraging and/or building other people up?”
Seriously…peace. Let the peace of God reign in every thing we do and say and may it reign in our community and culture.