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When using social media, Christians need to be aware of the impact their words can have on fellow Christians and non-Christians alike.
In “Christians in the Age of Outrage: How to Bring Our Best When the World Is at Its Worst,” Ed Stetzer presents in compelling language about how un-Christlike attitudes presented through Facebook and other social media can result in non-Christians developing a negative view of Christians and Christianity.
Stetzer, a preacher, author and instructor of missiology, uses sometimes-discouraging statistics to lay out his case that, all too often, those who exhibit a Christian personality on Sunday morning can communicate a very different side once they have technology between them and their audience. Clearly, it is hypocritical to engage online in a way that would be intolerable face to face.
When making use of social media, Stetzer writes, Christians can exhibit the same bad habits as everyone else. These habits can be personally harmful and damage relationships. It is incumbent upon churches to consider how to address problems inherent in social media with their members.
Many Christians try to rationalize their online outrage as “standing up for the truth” or “righteous anger.” But all too often the individual cares only about scoring points — not about giving fair and honest treatment to a topic. Stetzer’s perception of outrage is clear. It is sin. It is selfish, divisive, wrathful and chaotic, a product of the flesh.
Even Christians who don’t make use of social media, like me, should find the last few chapters practical and beneficial. Stetzer calls us to be Kingdom ambassadors who practice “winsome love.” It is possible to practice digital discipleship by exercising grace and, when online, to know when to engage and when to be silent.
In the end, we need to remember at all times whose we are and from where we derive our identity. “When we become primarily identified with any tribe outside the body of Christ,” Stetzer writes, “especially when we are identified to the point where others are repelled by us, we’ve traded our Kingdom-based identity for a world-based identity.”
DAN ARNOLD worships with the Spring Road Church of Christ in Westerville, Ohio.
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