With the advent of social media, I’ve seen the problem grow.
Someone posts a link to an article, and without fail, some “Christian” leaves a negative comment.
A few weeks ago I wrote an article about how to preach in a way that people will want to come back to your church. Immediately, a Christian commented on Twitter in a negative way that I should focus more on preaching the gospel.
I replied, “Did you read the article?”
I didn’t hear another word.
If this person had read the article, they would have seen that it was all about preaching the gospel. That was the point. People need to taste the gospel to want more of it.
But as many Christians do, the person shot off a negative comment before taking a moment to read.
Are we that impatient as a society? Must we fire off judgmental words before hearing the full story?
Christians are far too quick to judge an article based only on the headline. But for those of you who don’t know, the purpose of a headline is to get your attention and compel you to want to read the article. It’s impossible to say in a sentence what the article explains in a thousand words.
Yes, sometimes a headline is intended to be controversial. Sometimes it’s written to stir some emotion in you. Some headlines are click-bait, and the article is trash. But for the most part, a headline’s job is to let you know the subject of the article, not the thesis.
Don’t judge a book by its cover. And don’t judge an article by its headline.
I see this all the time. A popular Christian website posts an article on a controversial subject, and it gets bombarded with negative comments from people who clearly did not read the article.
The world is watching on social media. When Christians do this to other Christians, and also especially to non-Christians, it makes us all look bad. You tarnish the name of Christ.
So the next time your blood begins to boil at the sight of a headline, what if you did what the Bible says instead?
How The Bible Should Change Our Comments
Have we forgotten that God’s Word applies to our social media life just as much as our personal life?
The Bible says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).
LISTEN to (or read) the entire article before you rush to condemnation.
Then, if you do find a problem, please help correct your brother or sister in Christ by speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
And if an unbeliever wrote the article, don’t expect them to have a Christian perspective. Make a case for your different opinion with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).
I welcome criticism of my writing if it’s delivered well. If you ever read one of my articles or books and find a fault, please have an honest conversation with me about it.
I’m not infallible, and I often make mistakes. I do my best, but I guarantee that in the thousands of words I write every year, I will make more.
Most of the time, when I receive honest and fair criticism, it helps me to learn and grow. It may sting at first, but I appreciate the lesson I learn.
But whenever I get an angry comment about how I am somehow am supporting ISIS (What? But seriously, I’ve received that email), I laugh.
I dismiss unfounded criticism because the person obviously hasn’t read what I wrote or they’re flat-out crazy.
The negative comments wouldn’t bother me if only it didn’t make you and me, and all other Christians look bad. It wouldn’t bother me if it didn’t muddy the name of Jesus and give ammunition to anyone looking to justify their doubt.
So, Christians, please read the article and critique with humility, love, and respect if you feel the need.
Maybe you misunderstood what the writer intended to communicate.
Maybe the writer communicated poorly.
And maybe you can help the writer see that they made a mistake and become a better person for it.
But just barking at a headline on social media without interacting with the text is like walking into a book store and yelling at a book cover without cracking a page. You look like a fool.
Let’s all just stop the outrage. OK?
We are making fools of ourselves.
And if you are a pastor, set the example. Stop being part of the problem.
Good. I hope that settles it.
If only it would…