It’s late, you’re on social media and at that crucial point of decision.
Do you type the comment or do you stop yourself, walk away and leave it alone?
It’s a tough call to make in a tough age of tough talk surrounding tough issues.
For the believer in Jesus Christ, we find ourselves in a hard place that at times is difficult to maneuver.
On one hand, we don’t want to dishonor the name of Jesus by getting into a heated battle of words. This is the right goal, always, first, foremost and forevermore. A Christian jerk is rarely, if ever, heard.
We don’t want to add to the vitriol and stir up already rough waters.
But on the other hand, we have this nagging thing inside of us that is telling us we need to be more vocal about our faith. We can’t shake the feeling that in our effort to not become that Christian jerk, we have become Peter — watching from a safe distance instead of honorably standing with our God. (Matt. 26:58) This doesn’t feel good – this shrinking back from the faith we say we love.
“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” (Hebrews 10:39 ESV)
Shrinking back, staying silent, is not an option for a follower of Jesus Christ. Neither is being a mouthy Christian jerk. Jesus spoke up for us in the ultimate way on the cross; how much more do we owe Him our going on record? He was rejected, but it was never because He was a Christian jerk. Everything He did was perfect. We won’t be, but we can model our efforts in maneuvering these difficult when to speak/how to speak moments after Him.
- We must understand the difference between opinion and Gospel conviction. Anyone can spew opinion. Opinion has divided families and hurt hearts and carried wrong motive even before a word was spoken. Opinion hears something it doesn’t like, feels urged to argue by way of quick reaction, and dives into conversation just for diving in sake – driven by the prideful idea that its voice is the most important. More often than not, the opinion wants to silence and even make a fool out of a differing opinion and is offended when others do not agree. Self drives opinion, and the characteristics are easy to identify because it usually results in combat and turmoil. On the other hand, Gospel conviction is a deep groaning for the Truth of the Word to be made known, in order for people to come to know Jesus as the Answer. It weighs response and feels burdened to let people know the better way, but not because it’s a personal vendetta to win. Gospel conviction may still be received poorly, as some people will always reject Jesus. But when we speak up for Him with the heart of Gospel conviction, the tone we take can still draw people to Him.
- We must first establish a legit track record of love. People will listen to those who speak up for Jesus when their record speaks for itself in a positive way. On the other hand, the reason the preaching of many Christians falls on deaf ears is because it hasn’t been backed up by a life that has earned respect, therefore, it is just noise. We’ve got to establish a legit record of loving people before we can speak into their life. Have we listened well? Have we gotten involved in the hurts and needs of others? Have we treated people with kindness? Does our life align with the character of Christ? If no to these things, then let’s get busy. We have work to do. Let us become the people who others respect before we start adding to the conversation.
- We must become a student of speaking. I think this a point many of us miss. Speaking up for Jesus is so important and carries huge Kingdom importance, yet we barely give our training for this a second thought. I write about this in my book, Put Your Warrior Boots On, that we must yes, go on record for Jesus, and equally, have the wisdom to know when to speak. (A practical 9 points to consider for this is in the book.) One does not negate the other and in fact, the two go beautifully together and Jesus requires us to be responsible with both. We need to pray that God would give us the wisdom to know when to speak and learn from the Word what speaking up for Him looks like so that we learn from the perfect model how to do that which doesn’t come natural to the human tongue.
The world needs level headed, Jesus-filled, heart-led believers to point the way to responsible, civil conversations, both on and off the Internet.
No more self-focused opinions resulting in the label of a Christian jerk.
But a legit track record of love leading to the voice of steadied Gospel conviction.
It’s what Jesus would do.
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