Could We Just Love Each Other, Already?
About 10 years ago, as a junior in high school, I joined the world of Facebook. Awhile before that, Facebook was only open to college students via proof of an “.edu” email address, but soon after it opened up and high school students jumped in.
It didn’t take much longer until…our parents showed up. Whether or not to be friends with your parents was a crisis many of us faced which quickly led to befriending family friends of all generations, even including some grandparents. Today no matter where your social media residence lies, it’s become an intergenerational experience. With this and many other differences of perspectives among the Christian social media community, I’ve noticed a troubling trend in how and why we use social media.
We’re often tempted to take on the role of a PR manager for God and Christianity.
Whether it’s the election (to Trump or not to Trump), the actions or words of a public figure (remember Phil Robertson?) or the newest cultural moral debate (aka Target) we have differences of opinion and conviction. The problem is not in our differences but that we’re so quick to throw under the bus those with whom we disagree, or even those who simply don’t phrase things the way we would, shouting “I’m not with them!”
I get it, we all have non-Christian friends that we don’t want to get the wrong impression and we may not want to be lumped in with last year’s Starbucks red-cup controversy. But we may need to rethink our approach.
The Bible is not silent on how believers are to treat each other, even in disagreement (1 Tim 5:1-3, Heb 10:24). Since we’re talking about Christians and Public Relations, rather than leading a sister to repentance over a sin (though please don’t approach that through social media either), I think John 13:34-35 speaks well to the issue.
Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” So behaving in a loving manner to one another is a witness to those around us.
Romans 15:7 says “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Your church family is to be like your actual families; you do not get to hand pick the people with whom you get along best or have the most in common with to be in your family. It requires love and acceptance to get along.
Now with all this talk of love and acceptance, it’s necessary to clarify what I don’t mean. Biblical love and acceptance does not mean loving or accepting another person’s sin. If we truly love and care for someone, we must encourage them to walk with God.
Rather, love and acceptance in this context looks like leaving room for varying convictions. While there is room to respectfully dialog about this election, publicly questioning someone’s salvation or Christian commitment because they disagree with you neither honors God nor shines His light before others. While you may choose not to support stores that say “Happy Holidays,” it is not my right to share a scathing article about the antiquated Christianization of culture just to make clear I’m not one of “those” Christians.
Let’s continue to dialog, but not to dismiss each other. Christian unity does not mean we will always agree on everything. As far as I can tell, my husband will never “come to the light” when it comes to his choice of peanut butter or college sports, but our differences do not overshadow our unity.
May the same be said of our Christian family. We are united in Christ and that matters so much more than any disagreement ever could.