What Does “Loving My Enemy” Look Like on Social Media
What does love look like on social media?
When someone posts something with which I (even strongly) disagree or makes a snarky (or worse) comment about a post I’ve made, how am I to respond?
Do my posts carry the kind of tone that would cause someone with a different viewpoint to draw near to investigate or the kind of tone that prompts an immediate nuclear response?
Even though the gospel itself sets the tone for how believers should engage (with humility, kindness, and gentleness), Apostles Paul and Peter provide very clear instructions on this increasingly sensitive topic of social media engagement.
This could hurt, okay. But we are only wounded by the law in order for the gospel to do deep healing and transforming work in our souls. So, here we go.
In Colossians 3:6, Paul writes, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
In 1 Peter 3:15-16, we read a similar exhortation, “15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
Did any words stand out as challenging? Impossible maybe?
What does a “full of grace” conversation look like? How are our words to act like “salt”—not poured in a wound but sprinkled on vegetables? And, what about “gentleness” and “respect” as characterizing our tone?
Here is the point. Christians are ambassadors of Jesus, sent into the world to be representatives of the gospel… of the cross… of grace. Our message is not “be like me” but “trust in him.” Everything I do and say—including the tone with which I say it—should be as honey to an unbeliever or enemy, not vinegar.
We are to be people who speak and live the truth, but in humility, and with gentleness and respect. John tells us that Jesus came “full of grace and truth.” So, yes, we uphold the truth. But not as a means in itself.
Truth/law has been given as leverage to lead people, not into moralism (do this and live), but to Jesus (trust what he has done and live). As Paul writes in Galatians 3:24, the law was given not to be used as a hammer to defeat our enemies but as a schoolteacher who leads lead us to Jesus for our justification.
Do you see how law and grace work together and really need each other?
Truth and Grace, Law and Gospel
It has been said that theological liberalism’s tendency has been to highlight grace to the neglect of truth and that conservative theology’s tendency has been to highlight truth to the neglect of grace. But truth without grace really isn’t the fullness of truth, and grace without truth is a severely diminished version of grace.
Maybe this is why Paul encourages us to “speak the truth in love.” Not just the truth. There is a tone of grace that (to be gospel consistent) should accompany words of truth.
This means that the goal of our engagements on social media should not be the win the argument or get our point across, but to help others see, smell, and taste what it is to live in union with Jesus as one’s perfect righteousness.
A “full of grace” conversation does not mean you have to say the word grace or even present a gospel outline. It may lead to that. I think Paul recognizes that the impact of our lives as disciples of Jesus (and thus, fishers of men) is not only dependent upon what we say but how we say it.
Conviction, Repentance, and Renewal
If you are convicted, do not despair. Conviction is from the Holy Spirit. Condemnation is of the devil.
Conviction means that we have something fresh for which to repent and claim the present value of the blood of Jesus! We now have a huge opportunity to re-engage with folks whom we have done virtual word sparring in the flesh. As I re-engage, I may have the greatest missional opportunity of my life—going to someone and saying, “I’m sorry.”
In this way, you show others what it looks like to find hope, peace, joy—spiritual renewal—in the finished, redemptive work of Jesus through the cross. You model that Christianity is not for the strong and proud but the weak and humble. It isn’t a club of the self-righteous but is a fellowship of grace where fellow sinners celebrate a crucified and risen Savior.
If you have been a social media Pharisee, admit it, and start encouraging your online enemies. In the power of the Spirit, respond to vitriol with kindness. Ask more questions that make statements. Yes, humor is good, but end the rampage of belittling others with sarcasm. Whatever you post, be an online source of blessing.
This is just one of the ways a believer can use technology—even social media—to be part of God’s mission to rescue sinners, transform culture, and magnify Jesus as Lord.
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