Dear Facebook friends,
I want to ask a rhetorical and quasi-hypothetical question. Before you react, consider if I might actually have a good point. (NO. REALLY. GIVE THAT POSSIBILITY A MOMENT TO TAKE ROOT IN YOUR MIND BEFORE PROCEEDING.) If you drive past a friend’s home and see a political campaign sign in their yard supporting a candidate that you oppose, do you feel compelled to put an opposition sign in their yard? Do you assume they would appreciate that you write on their sign why you oppose that candidate?
We don’t do that because we respect our friends property—probably more than we respect their right to their opinion. Recently a friend on Facebook posted a Bible verse that, in his opinion, offered some wise counsel for a national controversy. I watched as well-intentioned friends began to counter the point of the verse without ever expressing an appreciation that the particular verse has some wisdom in this particular controversy—let alone that it is the Word of the Living God which we profess to believe is the “only infallible rule of faith and practice.” Not once did one of these friends express the slightest regard for the Bible verse, which was offered without comment. The closest I read was to say, “Yeah, but…” I don’t think, “Yeah, but” is a wise response to the Word of God. We should say, “Yes, Lord! How does this direct my life in light of the rest of Scripture?”
I offer two observations. First, some people want to dialog through their Facebook post. Some people simply want to express their thoughts. We, as the readers of their posts, should respect their desires for their property (ie. Facebook). Just as we would not post unwanted campaign signs on their lawn, we should be careful before we trespass onto their Facebook page with potentially unwanted opinions. When we do trespass, we may find out precisely how much our opinion is valued.
Secondly, and clearly pragmatically, why are we posting our rebuttal? Is it our wish to “convert” our friend? If so, what is the likelihood that ignoring their point and asserting our own will accomplish this purpose. Isn’t a face to face (rather than facebook to facebook) interaction much more likely to help turn them from the error of their ways. There is a risk though with that. When we listen, truly listen, to someone we actually care for, we might change our views, or possibly soften them.