I remember when I first read the verse, We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, (2 Corinthians 10:5) – It was a game-changer for me.
Seeing how Paul interacted with philosophers and unbelievers of all kinds was masterful. And he was the living embodiment of that verse. There is no question why God would intervene so dramatically in Paul’s life and then use him for this specific reason and so much more. He was clearly a man who knew how to hold thoughts captive and dismantled arguments to the glory of God.
And when I first discovered this, I knew I wanted to be just like him. I wanted to be an argument-destroying woman who could see a thought before it was even spoken in order to bring it under God’s submission. Or my submission. Or God’s. That part is unclear to me now.
It’s an important thing to be as Christians – Wise and discerning of what this world’s arguments are against the faith. And its a message more Christians need to hear.
But then came Facebook. And Twitter. And more.
Places where thoughts run wild. Like a sluggish and murky reservoir of everyone’s feelings, opinions, idea’s and passionate views on all manner of things. Some maddening, some irritating, but plenty problematic. We see as Christians all kinds of holes in arguments being thrown into the pool of cyber-thoughts and we can’t help but engage. If we didn’t, that would be a lack of faithfulness and boldness and 2 Corinthians 10:5…right?
Why should we sit back and let these false statements stand. That gives them the upper hand. Right?
And the more politically heated, the worse it gets.
And we all know what kind of week we’ve had in terms of politics. Even me – a Canadian girl, has found myself all wrapped up in a very tense election that’s not even happening within my own country. It’s been like a car wreck. Equally terrifying as it is completely intriguing. The whole world’s been watching our neighbors try to figure this thing out. And none of us were expecting the outcome.
Without saying anything about my personal opinions on the matter…I believe this American battle has opened up a door into the evangelical world and we’ve seen it’s just as divided as that red, white and blue country we’re all watching in confusion.
I wish I could say that the Christian cyber-discourse I see online has looked remarkably different than the non-Christian one. But that’s not what’s happening. And its a sad state. Trust me, I feel the battle within myself and I don’t like what I feel.
However, I think I understand why it’s happening.
Because of 2 Corinthians 10:5.
No, its not the Bibles fault. But those of us who’ve been personally touched by this verse, whether it be directly or indirectly, I believe are the ones engaging with lots of ferocity and very little tact. And I think many of us feel its the right thing to do. And it is…right?
Here’s where you may disagree with me, but I’m going to say no.
Before you shut your laptop, let me explain.
When Paul went on his missionary journeys and spoke to every kind of person, he did so face to face. The only time his messages were in print was when he wrote to the church. And when he wrote to the church he did so with directness and boldness, so that his words would be clear to them and not taken out of context.
And right before he said the words written in 2 Corinthians 10:5, he said this in verses 3-4…
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
Showing us exactly where he knew the real battle lies.
Here’s the thing. Social Media is a breeding ground for misunderstanding. It’s the place we want our feelings understood most, and yet so often that’s exactly what gets lost somewhere in cyber-space. Intention can be misunderstood, love can be misinterpreted to be right-fighting and rarely are the thoughts expressed in two sentences in a status update fully representative of a person’s fullest opinion.
It’s just hard.
But its much harder when you view social media as your personal battle ground for every thought being taken captive.
You start to feel like its your mission-field to correct everything you read. Never have I seen this happening more, then right now. (Thank you American politics!)
And never have I seen someone’s political opinions change because of online debate.
It’s not just one political side causing these needless battles. Its Christians on both political sides of the coin imposing themselves into every conversation in the name of “truth” trying to captivate thoughts and tear down arguments. And just like that, peaceful discourse becomes debate, which becomes right-fighting, which just adds to one of the biggest problem’s we have – Civil political conversation.
Listen, I’m not saying we can never talk about what we believe on social media. We can. And sometimes we’ll find ourselves in conversations we never meant to be in. Sometimes it just comes knocking on our cyber-door. So…then what? Well…engage! But maybe move to a private conversation to avoid the random added comments of people not needing to be involved. And definitely keep it short while making it very clear your care for the person you’re talking to. Be sure to hear them and affirm where they are right, then speak truth that comes from God and then end it.
And sometimes a response is not necessary at all. Some people are just not worth engaging online.
We have to understand that our only hope to bridge the terrible gap currently killing our political and social climate is for us Christians willing to hear the “other side”, without quick judgement and reactionary debate. We don’t have to agree with them. But we have to listen. We have to be calm. We have to be different. We just have to.
And I dare say…we will do a far better job being a bridge if we start looking into the eyes of real people. Face to face engagement. What a concept! Yes its easier to stay behind a safe screen, and there is a level at which we can’t help the reality that our generation mostly lives behind a screen. But we’re far more gracious in person. So let’s try and be in-person more often. Yes, even with people we disagree with.
Then when we see the pain in someone’s eyes and the struggle of their hearts, lets show love and care. And if they make nonsensical arguments riddled with holes, feel free to capture those thoughts and hold them captive to obey Christ.
I would love to finally see Christian’s lead the way in love for other’s. I long to see us be wise as serpents and gentle as doves online. Its not easy, but we must try harder and be trail-blazers in closing the gap.
We also must remember that our mission on earth is not a political one, but a spiritual one. We battle the spiritual realm and the only balm to everyone’s thoughts and feelings is Christ crucified and risen. May we never get so caught up in the earthly issues of the world, that we forget to share the Healer of this world.
Tensions are high…let’s not just dive into the sludge of opinion carelessly.
Let’s be gap-bridger’s, with grace on our lips and Christ on our tongues.