Blog

Nov 11, 2021 08:00am
3 Steps to Social Media Grace
1214 Views

Today it is hard to imagine a world without social media. Even though I lived much of my life before it existed, I am one of those that just might not survive without it now. In fact, many of us treat it as an absolute necessity in our daily lives.

And indeed social media is an enhancement to our lives: Over the last few years, it has allowed me to connect with long lost friends. It has provided me connection to friends and family that I would not otherwise have. And it has given me this opportunity to share with all of you. So I am thankful for its existence.

But—

It has also revealed a tremendous loss in our society today. I don’t think it caused the loss but it provides evidence of it daily. If you scroll any social media platform for more than a few seconds, you find example after example of hostility, conflict, accusations, intolerance, judgmentalism, and the like.

It is often framed in the context of standing for political principles, fighting cultural deterioration, or exhibiting spiritual righteousness. But it lacks one crucial characteristic that Jesus taught and modeled. A characteristic that He expects from each of us.

Our social media commentary today often lacks the crucial characteristic of grace.

CONDUCT OUT OF ALIGNMENT WITH JESUS

I mean it’s difficult to find any political discussion on social media that doesn’t turn confrontational unless you only allow friends of your exact persuasion. There is little to no grace shown for the feelings of others. The name calling and attacks are about as opposite of grace as they can be. Yet that has become the celebrated norm.

And unfortunately, it’s the same with cultural and spiritual discussions. Our way is right, and everyone else’s is stupid. Our thoughts have moral superiority and anything to the contrary is evil.

And indeed, our way may be right. We may absolutely be on the right side of an issue morally and spiritually. But if we take our positions and choose our words without an element of grace, we are not acting in alignment with Jesus.

Jesus neither taught nor modeled condemnation as a life principle or practice. But He taught and modeled grace as both. So any arguments or attacks coming from us that are not coupled with grace are not godly behavior.

Standing on principle is admirable. But standing on principle without an element of grace misses the mark established by Jesus.

So how in the world do we stand firm on our principles yet maintain the element of grace that Jesus expects of us? In an age where we are so divided and opinions on every side of any issue are so strong and confrontational, how can we exhibit grace without surrender?

I’m not at all sure that I know. I struggle with it as much as anyone else does. But in my struggles, I feel like God has revealed to me three distinct approaches that are helping me. And maybe they will be of help to you too.

ALIGNING CONDUCT WITH JESUS

1. Curiosity versus judgement

Recently, our pastor’s wife was teaching on marriage, and she made a statement that struck me deep in my soul. It is a concept that transcends just the topic of marriage. And it just may be an avenue that can help us all as we struggle with grace amidst our differences.

She suggested that we approach our differences and conflicts first with a spirit of curiosity instead of an immediate spirt of judgement. What if we really tried to understand the why of a person’s perspectives, attitudes, and beliefs instead of our immediate judgements, attacks, and counterattacks.

That does not indicate that we are willing to sacrifice our principles or change our minds in any way. It does not condone any of their beliefs or actions. But it does open the door to a moment of grace instead of judgment. In that moment, we can at least be curious about their why instead of immediately rushing into combat mode.

And in that moment, we can choose grace just as Jesus chooses grace.

2. Consider the heart and mind of Jesus

Over the last fifteen years or so of my life, I have taken seriously the concept of being the hands and feet of Jesus in my community. I really do try to follow the model that He set for service to others and joining with Him in His mission on earth.

But over the last year or so, I have become more aware of the need to also align my life more and more with the mind and heart of Jesus. As much as humanly possible, I want to think as He thinks and feel as He feels.

In response to that awareness, I have sought to develop more of a listening approach in my relationship with God. In my time spent in the Bible, I try to do more listening to what He is saying to me personally through those words than ever before.

In my prayer times, I am trying to incorporate a little more listening instead of just me talking. Understanding the heart and mind of Jesus takes some intentional effort but the results are so worth it. It is indeed possible for us to align our hearts and minds with Christ’s. And that just might allow us to respond in moments of conflict just as He does.

And in those moments, we can choose grace just as Jesus chooses grace.

3. Control of our impulses and our words

Perhaps more than anywhere else, social media has revealed the inability to control our impulses and  words. It is amazing how quickly one simple statement can start the ugliest war of words imaginable. Just scroll down the comments of any controversial post that you find and view the ungodliness that overflows our discourse. 

It is not uncommon to see a statement, meant with no harm intended, that starts a verbal war. We are seeing families, schools, churches, and every other relationship damaged when this lack of control of our impulses and words takes over.

So what would happen if we simply stopped and considered this biblical instruction before we post or respond to anything on social media?

“Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them” (Ephesians 4:29).

Even in those social media controversies, we can choose grace just as Jesus chooses grace, and when we do, there is peace and contentment rather than hatefulness and stress. God has granted us an eternal lifetime of grace through our belief in Christ. Surely He can grant us the ability to extend “grace for the moment” in any moment if we choose to do so.

Even those moments on social media.

Copyright © 2021 Lifeword.org. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from Lifeword.org