7 Essential Checks for Christian Interaction Online


I think that 2016 will go down as the year that American Christianity jumped the shark.

And I say that as a Christian.

We have as a right in this country the ability to speak our minds. Fact is, some people shouldn’t. Not because of any totalitarian government silencing them, but because they have no wise filter ensuring that what they say should actually be said.

I think that 2016 is headed toward the nadir because Christian people cannot tone down the rhetoric on social media. Too much of what is said out there by supposed representatives of Christ not only has no Christ in it, but that vacuum gets filled by the Enemy. It’s rage-filled, hateful, denigrating, factious, and in many cases, known lies (which get a shrug when called out).

Blasting our opinionI understand that much of this comes from a place of fear caused by loss of power and control. But are any of those attributes associated with the Kingdom of God? No. In fact, in the Kingdom of God, loss of earthly power is a good thing, and fear gives way to love.

One of the realities that bothers me more and more is that while many Christians can recite chapter and verse from memory, scant few actually take it to heart and live it. There’s a huge disconnect between Christian knowledge and Christian praxis, and the praxis only come through wisdom, which seems in increasingly short supply. I am continually disheartened by Christians who can quote a bunch of verses on peace and love and then go out and attack others with distasteful words.

I do not want to add to the freedom of the Gospel by laying a weight of “do this…” activities on anyone’s list. I offer the following simply as questions that Christians should ask themselves when interacting with others, especially online:

  1. Am I being an ambassador for Christ? (In that role, am I working toward unity and toward finding common ground?)
  2. Or am I actually a fomenter? (Should I really join in an argument that will only further rile me and everyone else here, causing further divisions rather than unity?)
  3. Am I a safe person? (When I wade into a conversation, am I the person who helps tone down the rhetoric and earns the respect of both sides?)
  4. Am I sharing the truth in a winsome way? (Am I actively avoiding trying to score points for myself or my “team”?)
  5. Am I keeping the proper kingdom in view? (Are my eyes set on the Kingdom of God or on earthly kingdoms instead?)
  6. Am I displaying the proper citizenship? (Am I approaching this as a citizen of heaven or as an earthbound, sectarian nationalist?)
  7. Am I advancing the cause of Christ? (Is my speech here bringing people closer to Jesus or driving them away?)

There are too many Christians who believe that because Jesus said He came to bring a sword that divides (Matthew 10:34-36), even between family members, that this is to be their role as well.

Wrong. The role of the Christian is to be an ambassador (2 Corinthians 5: 18-21). Present Christ. Work toward reconciliation. It is not our job to be a divider. If there is to be any divisiveness, let Christ be the one who does it. Dividing is not our job and never has been.

If Christians want to know why our voice is less heeded in the marketplace of ideas today, it’s not because of conspiratorial machinations of shadow governments and their minions. It’s because our speech is no longer infused with the unique aroma of heaven. Instead, it takes on the same stench as the rest of the spewed vitriol the world dishes out. We have become indistinct, and we have done so because we have adopted the world’s speech and not the Lord’s.

Next time we feel compelled to press the Enter key on that Facebook or Twitter post, let’s run the seven checks first. We may find that what we have to say may not pass the tests and should be better left unsaid. Then let’s find a response that does and be those ambassadors we were charged by God to be.

The Virtue of Being Slow to Speak


Gagged and silencedOne of the ways social media may harm the Church (and society as a whole) occurs when Christians rush to comment on news stories and issues of social importance.

As I noted in my previous post, America’s Greatest Sin—And How It Sets the Stage for the Antichrist, we are obsessed to our detriment with novelty in America. If it’s new, it draws us. For Christians, though, being the first in line or first on the bandwagon is likely not a good thing.

The Ahmed Mohamed story blew up (no pun intended) this past week and incited much commentary on the Web, with people quickly choosing sides.

What disturbed me about this case is that we commented as if we had insider info about conversations that happened between the principals of the story: Ahmed, teachers, and police. We spoke as if we knew what was said that led to this young man’s handcuffing.

Problem is, we didn’t know. As more facts come in, it’s clear that more is going on than was initially known or reported.

I later read a screed that polluted further conversation about this case by examining the boy’s father’s past and drawing negative conclusions from that man’s run for president of Sudan and opposition to a Koran-burning pastor.

The problem there is the genitive fallacy, a logical fallacy that mistakenly draws conclusions based on a person’s past positions or allegiances and not on the facts at hand.

I also question Christians when we accuse someone of a response that if the situation were reversed and the Christian accuser were put in the place of the accused, the Christians would cry, “Persecution!” Could you and I be accused of the same thing we’re accusing someone else of? If so, how would we react to that accusation? Why would it be OK for us to react negatively and not the person we’re accusing? The Golden Rule applies to speech too.

Lastly, it’s September, the most active month for Christians making outlandish (and perpetually wrong) eschatological predictions. Christian obsession with the Jewish holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur that fall in this month means talk of doom, Rapture, more doom, and all manner of end-of-the-world predictions and visions.

Sigh. I am burned out of Christians doing the following:

1. Using logical fallacies to persuade

2. Rushing to promote some new End Times prediction by the latest hot “prophet”

3. Speaking without having all the facts

4. Condemning others using arguments that would cause outrage if the tables were turned

5. Not thinking long and hard before speaking

The Bible states we are ambassadors for Christ. A major characteristics of an ambassador is carefully choosing words so as to promote rational discussion of difficult issues, with a focus on creating peaceful outcomes that benefit all sides.

Can we Christians in America today say this is how we speak?

If we cannot—and I firmly believe we can’t—perhaps we should not be speaking at all. At least not until we have pondered and prayed over all the facts and can then speak in the way that an ambassador for Christ should. Seriously, we know many of the verses with which God chastens us concerning our speech. Are we obeying ANY of them? Do a study on what the Bible says about this topic. It’s a huge undertaking, believe me, because how we communicate with others is of great importance to God

In an age of social media, how must the Church speak and yet not appear uninformed, angry, hasty, or deaf? How do we operate as ambassadors of Christ in what we say, both in person and online?

Something to consider for this week and the days to come.

One Empowered, One Not


Edna had a problem. Her computer’s printer stopped working correctly. The computer followed a day later.

Fortunately for Edna, both devices came with on-site service.

John from the printer company and Chuck from the computer company arrived almost simultaneously at the little house at the end of the lane. John held a thick manual for the printer and was dressed in a spiffy, navy blue uniform with his name embroidered above his heart. Chuck came loaded with tools, drives, and devices and seemed less put together. He also carried a thick manual. He wore a uniform too, but it was faded and had a hole in one elbow, and the headphone/microphone contraption strapped to his head made him look alien.

Both repairmen greeted Edna.

“Just happy you boys are here,” the elderly woman said.

“We’re happy to be here,” the two answered.

But soon, one of the two had less happy news.

John had looked at the printer’s screen and read the code. “I can’t do anything about this,” he said.

Edna frowned. “You looked in your manual and it didn’t tell you what to do?”

“No,” John answered. “Well, actually yes. Yes, it did tell me some of what to do, but protocol requires I call in an engineer who was on the design team. I mean, I know the manual backwards and forwards, but this is how we do it. Only the engineer at HQ is authorized.”

Edna was incredulous and started, “But—”

“—when will it get fixed?” John finished. “Well, the engineer may take his time. He should be back in this area next week.” John stared out a window. “Or the week after that.”

Chuck watched the wind go out of Edna’s sails.

“But I need to print a flyer for the ladies’ auxiliary fund-raiser. It’s next week.” Edna replied.

John offered her a frog-like frown and said, “Sorry. That’s the best I can do. The engineer is really good, though. I’m sure he’ll have you fixed up.”

“Don’t see much of the point of having on-site service if it comes down to this,” Edna said to herself.

But Chuck heard it. Despite the frustration in the words, he smiled.

Edna escorted John to the door.

“A pleasure serving you,” John said. The repairman got in his truck, which was shiny and new, and drove off.

Edna walked back to her little home office. Chuck had out a small notebook computer. He was talking into his microphone. To Edna, it sounded like so much gibberish, but she was sure it was something technical. The repairman stared intently into his computer’s display. “Thanks,” he then said to no one in the room.

“Good news,” Chuck announced. “I was able to discern what your problem is.”

“That’s great!” The woman’s countenance brightened.

“I was talking with the engineer at our company, and he sent a patch that should fix the issue on the computer. Turns out, it was an OS update glitch.”

To Edna, Chuck seemed to rise up an inch taller.

“Yeah, a lot of people got hammered by that one,” he continued. “Those auto-updates sometimes create problems.”

“Yes, they do sometimes,” Edna said.

“Well, I’ll make things better than ever,” the repairman reassured. Edna was surprised to see him move to the printer. Intently, he glowered at the printer’s display.

“I think this is a firmware update glitch,” Chuck said.

“How do you know that, young man?”

“I just know. I think I can fix it.”

Chuck connected his notebook to the malfunctioning computer and ran the patch he had received. With a reboot, the computer was fixed. The repairman then shut off the printer, reached for a button on the back that had escaped Edna’s notice, held it down, and flicked the printer’s switch back on. The printer came on and ran through its startup procedure.

“A miracle!” Edna proclaimed, beaming.

Chuck laughed. “Not quite yet. It won’t run right without that update. I’ll download it and install it.”

Which he did. And soon, both the computer and printer were working right again.

But to Edna’s surprise, Chuck wasn’t done.

“I’m pretty sure your computer was running a bit slow lately.”

Edna was beginning to wonder about this Chuck fellow. He seemed to know things he shouldn’t.

“Yes,” she said. “It hasn’t been itself.”

“‘Hasn’t been itself,'” Chuck repeated to himself with a chuckle. “Yeah, sometimes these things have their own personality, don’t they?”

“My husband could be cantankerous too,” Edna said.

Chuck saw the woman glance at a picture on the wall. “I’m sure he was a great man.”

Edna nodded. “He was.”

The repairman smiled and turned back to the computer. “The hard drive needs defragmenting—badly. The source of the slowness, I’m sure. I’ll take care of that, and you’ll be as good as new.”

And an hour later, for Edna and her little home office upon which the ladies’ auxiliary depended, it was as good as new. Or better. Thanks to Chuck.

On his way out, Chuck handed Edna a business card. As he pulled away in his decade-old truck that had probably seen better days, Edna waved. She examined the white card. Handwritten on the bottom it read, Call anytime—for any reason.

Later that afternoon, Edna phoned the printer company and canceled her service call. She figured if she had a problem with the printer in the future, she had someone better to call.


There’s a conference going on this weekend on the West Coast. The equivalence of that conference is to do something about “repairmen” who are out of bounds, especially if they are more like Chuck than like John. That may be well and good, but if folks like Chuck get ground up in the process, that’s not good. Sadly, it does not appear that those running the conference care much about the difference. Maybe they do, but I suspect the Chucks of this world are going to get short shrift anyway.

We need empowered people in the Church. God empowers people by His Spirit because He intends for us to do the work. Wherever we may be, if we are so empowered, we are fulfilling His intent for us, and subsequently, we are helping in the way that He intends. If we reject that empowerment, then we become like John in the story. We can show up, but what good are we?

I want to be like Chuck. Don’t you?