By Jay Sanders
You can’t lead someone to Jesus by just being nice. Holding doors open for people and offering kind gestures are good and important, but they don’t save anyone. At some point, you have to speak the gospel. But the opposite is also true.
You can proclaim the gospel with eloquence and have airtight theology. Those things are also good and important. But when done without love, they aren’t just ineffective—they’re counterproductive.
The Apostle Paul would probably say something about clanging cymbals (1 Corinthians 13:1). I’m looking for a theological term here. You know, some weighty word that describes the condition where people assume good theology can atone for bad manners. Wait, I’ve got it…
Social media often resembles a raging dumpster fire, including the feeds of some Christians. They seem to care more about getting clicks and firing up their base of supporters than they do about the patience and kindness Paul spoke of and that Jesus models.
I’ve seen horrendous labels placed on men and women who’ve devoted their entire lives to God’s Word and Jesus’ command to love God and neighbor. I’ve seen leaders who preach and write about grace demonstrate a complete lack of grace when dealing with those on the other side of some issue.
Step Away from the Dumpster Fire.
Pastor, if you find yourself caught in constant social media arguments, please step away from this dumpster fire.
Christian unity is built on one foundation—Christ. Not our views on the best ways to educate our children. Nor our opinions about politics. Not our favorite social commentator. Nor which version of Christian music we prefer. Just Christ (Ephesians 4:1-16).
When we replace Christ as our foundation and instead build our unity on our preferences and feelings, we end up with nothing but division. And rather than act like the Church, we more resemble a civic organization or think tank. At best.
This isn’t to say creeds and confessions don’t matter. They do. All I’m saying is it’s possible to love your creed more than you love Christ and His Church.
Put another way; you can be right and still be wrong. If you don’t believe me, just watch how some Christians treat other believers who subscribe to the same historic creeds and confessions but happen to disagree on some secondary issues.
For Real, Step Away.
Most of the people God has placed under your care don’t know or care about the social media battles between Christian celebrities and they don’t need to know.
But they do need Jesus.
And if you’re busy shooting flames into digital dumpster fires, the rudeness you use online will likely bleed into your church where an eloquent gospel presentation from the pulpit will be negated by the gongs you bang throughout the week.
Yes, I know some Christian leaders have built quite the platform for themselves by attacking other believers and acting as if every issue demands its own 95 Theses. But trust me; this isn’t a platform you want.
There are some platforms people build that come back to haunt them. Just ask Haman (Esther 7:10).
Build Your Life On Love.
My former preaching professor, Stan Wilkins, used to tell us every human is wired to build a life. Some have built their life by calling out others, mic dropping, questioning the character of their opponents, and shaming them. This is shifting sand.
Pastor, build your life on love, not at the expense of the truth, but right alongside it. Yes, there’ll be people with whom you disagree. And there’ll be times when that disagreement will need to be private and times when it will need to be public.
But it can never be done without love. A loveless attitude is a terrible way to build a platform. We have more important things that need our attention.
Besides, what does it profit a man to gain a large social media following and lose his brother and sister, his integrity, and his soul?
You can’t “nice” someone to Jesus. But you just might “rude them” away from Him.
JAY SANDERS (@jaysanders714) is the senior pastor of Towaliga Baptist Church in Jackson, Georgia.