What if the new Public Square (the internet) was a place of honest, yet respectful debate? Not the nasty and dangerous place it is today.
I’m not saying the World Wide Web is all wicked. Of course not. I find my connections mostly lovely on social media. There are oodles of interesting, respectful and thought-provoking reads. There are inspiring quotes and animal videos at every turn.
I adore a good debate on issues of importance. What I don’t adore is meanness.
How do we turn the tide? How can a guy articulate a conviction without a rash of bullies beating him up with their keyboards? How does a mom express her view without being torn down by another mom who sees it differently? When did it become a crime to disagree in America?
It is heartbreaking. The attacks come quickly. Then escalate. Words piercing through the jugular into the heart. The internet, like the “real world”, is a society of wounded humans, prideful and insecure.
Hurt People Hurt People. A cliché for sure, but true. Jesus knew this about us (wounded souls wounding others) and warned His disciples in Luke 16:37-38:
“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.” (The Message)
We -the hurting- need the touch of Jesus. We-the wounded- need His grace in the damaged places.
By His wounds, we are healed.
We Jesus-followers don’t always present well, do we?
Yes, Christians are picked on, criticized, condemned and hated. Jesus warned us of that also (see John 16:33). And it stinks. It just does. However, we are called to love, aren’t we? Called as Jesus was.
I believe it begins with those who follow Christ-the healed wounded. WE must take up the torch and go easy on others. May we see into places of pain, beyond the words. An opportunity not to respond in kind but with love (or not respond at all). May our fingers and voices be instruments of grace on the internet and beyond.
What a cruel place the internet can be. We understand words of accusation and intolerance come from wounded places. Prick our hearts as we feel tempted to respond negatively. Forgive us for the times we have not represented You well. We are sorry! Give us Your eyes and Your heart of love. Use us as instruments and examples of grace in the public square.