I quickly grabbed my phone and texted a friend:
Hey, are you okay?
While I waited for her response, I flipped back to Facebook to keep reading a stream of vitriol against this woman for a comment she recently made. Yes, her post had been political, and I won’t even mention what she wrote. I personally didn’t see anything wrong with it though. She hadn’t insulted anyone or used condescending language. She was merely expressing lament and frustration with recent events. But her fellow Facebook “friends” were telling her they were not okay with her view.
Even worse, people were making it clear that statements like hers made her a deserving target for verbal attacks.
Reading hate-filled comments on social media always feels like a punch in the gut. But what shook me to my core was the fact that this woman was a Christian and the majority of aggressive responses were by Christians too. You’ve probably seen things like this unfold in your corner of the media-verse. Perhaps you’ve even been the recipient and victim of these attacks. I have, and it’s never fun.
It’s moments like these in which social media pulls back the curtains to show the ways that fellow Christians sling mud at each other without a hint of remorse or consciousness to their own hate. We can have such little love for one another, and the things that happen on Facebook and Twitter are just a microcosm of similar fights happening in the church and in our own homes. We’re nothing if not divided, and many of us now carry the wounds these fights have inflicted.
This is not the life of believers that Jesus envisioned. In fact, He called His disciples to live exactly opposite to a world of hate. In John 13:34-35, He 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.”
These are such simple but powerful words. I think many of us know we’re supposed to love each other, but we don’t all live it out well in our day-to-day lives. The practice of love is complex, and if we are to embrace and model it in our own lives, we need to understand what Jesus meant in these two short verses.
First, Jesus tells His disciples, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” We are to love others because God first loved us. There is chronology at work here but also an important worldview. We are supposed to live our lives with a constant recognition and gratitude for God’s love for us. We are to thank God for His saving, merciful love on us that is new each and every day. We are to remember the cross and remember what Christ has done on our behalf. We are to see God’s love for us as humans over and over again in Scripture until it’s ingrained in our minds, and we can never forget the all-encompassing reality of God’s love for us every second of every day. It is only when we are living in this truth that we can become so saturated with the love of God that it will flow through us and out of us and onto everyone around us.
Second, it is the love of God flowing through us that bears witness of who we are to the world. It is through love that we put Christ on display in our lives. As Jesus says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
And this should convict us all. Because Jesus is saying that people will only know that we are Christians if we love — not how much knowledge we have, not have many arguments we win, not how pretty our Instagram page is, not how many books we write or how many social justice causes we take part in or what ministries we are a part of. Your measure as a Christian is in your love.
I’m not saying we can’t disagree with each other. We can, and we will, because God made us all so different, but we can disagree with each other in love.
So, the next time we’re scrolling on social media and we read an inflammatory comment, let’s choose love. Maybe that means choosing not to respond at all. Maybe that means asking the person to clarify their statement because it sounded attacking, but you want to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it means that you just personally message the person and express your hurt, and you choose to have a private discussion instead of a heated public one.
And these same approaches can be used in person too. Loving a family member with a different political view or someone in your church who is constantly criticizing or that coworker who always has something unkind to say about you is no easy task. But we can choose to let love win. We can choose to lean into Christ, to pray for God to remind us of His love for us, and carefully, prayerfully, decide what words, if any, need to be spoken. Love loves — always.
We can disagree with each other and we will, because God made us all so different, but we can disagree with each other in love. -@drmichellereyes: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Very well stated!
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
May we be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. James 1:19. I think there is a more fundamental reason why we seem to have trouble doing this today. I’m usually the perpetual encourager, but God led me to write a more thought provoking piece entitled, “Why Are We All So Easily Offended?” I believe it speaks to the problem at hand….http://walkingwellwithgod.blogspot.com/2020/02/why-are-we-all-so-easily-offended.html
Blessings for reminding us that, above all, we need to put on love,
Michele Morin says
Thank you for this, Michelle. We are so quick to forget that it’s the love of God that sets us apart from all the other practitioners of good in this world–and all the other opinion-holders. Anyone can build a hospital, provide food and shelter, or even show up with disaster relief. It’s our motive that makes the difference, but when we slide into politics, somehow we lose our bearings. During this Lenten season, I want to be mindful of praying for the upcoming election and our stance as Christians in the puddle of vitriol that’s certain to collect in the low places.
Kathy Cheek says
It has truly been shocking to see the ugliness hurled around by Christians lately and my heart aches seeing it as I wonder how badly we are blowing our testimony. I hope that one heart at a time kindness will find its way back into our communications and reading your devotion today gives me hope that we can do better!
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Judy M Wagner says
Thank you Michelle for this message. There are times when I’m wondering if I am the only one who sees the un-Christian like behavior in the political environment of this country among those who are (or who claim to be) Christian. It has gotten me so upset sometimes that I yell at the TV when the only one who can hear are my 2 cats (and they just look at me with a look of what’s wrong, what did I do?) But I know the Lord can hear me and there are times when I have cried out– Lord stop this madness! I think of words of Shakespeare– “A pox on both their houses”. Sometimes I worry if our country can survive as one country or if this will cause another civil war. I personally can’t do anything to change someone’s opinion, not even close friends or family. I have told a friend to think of ” What Would Jesus Do? ” And I pray, turn off the TV and social media when it starts to get me upset. Pray that we will always have the freedom to agree to disagree, pray that we can live in peace with each other. I know that God is in control of everything and his will is going to prevail over all. Praise the Lord!
Wonderful message! Here’s hoping that this message will reach many people!
TAMMIE BRAY says
POWERFUL! GREAT MESSAGE!!
Maggie R says
Hi Michelle. These are tough times we live in with too much social media and not enough sharing a cup of coffee face to face. Because I am very weak minded, I have chosen to stay away from almost all social media or news. I glance at the headlines but mostly know from God’s word of the events that are to come. Let’s hold tight as believers and as you remind us n reap the fruit of loving one another to shine in this dark world. Gracias hermana en Cristo
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
I don’t like Facebook as too many people want to see your business know what your up too. I tried it once but no. People could tell all I was doing when I was on it who was my friends on it. Just like Whatsapp. People keep wanting to chat me all the time. Whatsapp I never started. I found Facebook was taking away my time with God. As I put on my phone incase my late Mum would want me. Then my phone would flash to say so and so wants to talk to you on Facebook. I find myself spending more time on it than with God and his word the Bible and Prayer. It took over my life. I began to disagree with my friends as they said. It will do you no harm. All your doing is chatting to your friends and cousins. I had to say no. God through his Holy Spirit began to speak to me in Love. If it taking away from your time with me. Get rid of it. I was getting ruther and ruther away from God. As I was spending less and less time with God reading his word the Bible and prayer. More time on Facebook. It became more important to me than God. So I had to delete it. As I knew God would Judge me for this. I had to listen to his Holy Spirit. Do what it said. Give it up. I am glad I did. I glad I listened to God. As his word more important. I wouldn’t have Facebook about me again.
Excellent post… here in Canada…there seems to be such anger and prejudice during this time of rail blockades…I hear and see christians reacting in a very ungodly way and I can hardly believe they actually following Christ. The oil problem in Alberta has definitely brought out the worst in some humans I am so sad to say.
Thankyou. I am laying my life before God as I ponder your post for myself.May God open our hearts and hands to LOVE his way.
Beth Williams says
This world is so divisive & hatred seems rampant. Can’t stand to hear all this crap. That is why I don’t do much social media. When responding to Facebook posts I choose the high road. You will see an AMEN or Right on. Nothing negative. I may disagree with you, but you won’t know it. Not losing my testimony over something trivial. In fact I have a co-worker whom I don’t care for. Her work ethic isn’t what it should be. She had cancer surgery Feb 12. I have been praying for her. Asking God to heal her & yes telling Him how I feel. That way I get to shower this world with some of God’s love. This world needs more people who can love everyone no matter what-skin color, nationality, etc. It should not matter. It didn’t to Jesus. He even talked to Women-Samaritan women at that. We would do well in this Lenten season to agree to disagree in love. Knowing Jesus made us each unique. Let’s all try to be kind & loving towards others & see how they treat us.
Mary Ellen Shedron says
As our world seemingly promotes and practices anger in every facet of life, your reminder is sorely needed, Ms. Reyes.
Manjula Simiyon says
It spoke to me. I Have been a victim. But I have been at the attacking end too. This was meant for me. Thanks for posting this.