We live in an age of offense and disagreement. Some will probably disagree with that statement, and be offended by it. The rise of social media platforms has given us a broader platform in which to voice our opinions, and to respond to the opinions of others. These exchanges lead us down an endless road of responses that have about as much effect on changing a person's ideology as painting a house changes the neighborhood in which it was constructed. There was a time I enjoyed the rigorous debate that was brought on by a “friend’s” outlandish Facebook post that needed desperately to be corrected by my insight on the subject. To be honest I’ve since grown tired of the endless back and forth that produces nothing more than frustration, and deletions from a friend list. Lets face it, people’s minds will never be changed through a Facebook post, a tweet, or any other social media post.
There are several universities that have recently come under fire for what some see as an attack on free speech. These same universities that, just a few decades ago, were demanding all voices be heard, have now been accused of silencing voices that are either too offensive or that disagree with the general population of the student body. There have been calls for the dismissal of faculty and staff, cancellations of guest speakers, and “safe spaces” created on campuses all in the name of protecting students from offensive rhetoric. This can only lead to isolationism, the extermination of free speech and the loss of open exchange of ideas. I’d like to propose a question for us; even though we may disagree with the actions of these universities, are we guilty of the same thing?
Let’s be honest for a minute. We don’t know everything. We have opinions, thoughts on a subject, and inclinations. But if we are brutally honest, much of the time that’s all they are. I would never suggest that it’s impossible to become an authority on a subject. After all we are hoping that our surgeon certainly knows what he or she is doing when they pick up the scalpel. Even in Christianity there are certainly those who have given themselves to the study of theology and have become scholars. Still, this creates a vacuum in the area of personal knowledge because if I give myself to one area of study for eight years there is still an enormous amount of information in other fields of study that I will be ignorant of. You may trust your surgeon with fixing you, but chances are they wouldn’t be able to fix your automobile.
We tend to isolate ourselves based on what we know. Perhaps this is one reason the Christian faith has tens of thousands of denominations. We really don’t seem to like the free exchange of ideas within the church. Even though we are Christians, there is a plethora of topics we disagree on. Do you know for instance that the book of Revelation alone has at least four different views of interpretation? I was only ever taught one. There are different views on the Trinity, hell, baptism, healing, grace, prayer, the wrath of God, and an endless list of other topics, yet we are all still Christians. We still read the same Bible, yet we separate into camps desperately trying to create a space where everyone agrees. Allow me to burst your bubble: the people sitting around you on Sunday morning that you think agree with you, don’t. They do not in fact agree with everything you believe, and you do not agree with everything they believe. It simply doesn’t work that way.
The real exchange of ideas doesn’t come through social media, it comes from real relationship. It’s difficult to understand a person’s Facebook post without understanding them. Without knowing their history, the culture in which they were brought up in, and how they came to develop the ideas that form their way of thinking. Certainly not everything they believe is true, but you’ll have a difficult time changing anyone’s mind outside of real relationship. Perhaps instead of a reply full of facts, opinions, and scripture on a post we disagree with, we should first discover the why of what they believe and perhaps look for an opportunity outside of social media to explain the why of what you believe. You could even do it over a bold cup of coffee.
Ken Boone currently serves as a co-host on Bold Cup of Coffee's The Brew Podcast and founding pastor at Alabaster House as well as a public speaker, travelling equipper and writer.
Ken and his wife Christa are the proud parents of four children. They have been married for more than 15 years. And have been in the ministry for more than 17 years, They have dedicated their lives to preaching the "Gospel of the Kingdom", and to living a life in partnership with Holy Spirit. Their desire is to see believers equipped to live a lifestyle that brings the realities of Heaven to the world that we live in, to see the culture of the Kingdom of God replace the cultures around us. And to fulfill the mandate from Jesus to: "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, freely you have received freely give."
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