This is a post that I have been thinking about writing for a long time yet find it quite hard to do so because of its nature. Lately, though, we have seen a rise of people saying their opinions online in a nature that is rude and dishonorable, and some walking in a thin line of gossip and rumor.
In the Christian world, we face the same problem. So many have come to call out or correct an error publicly using a social media platform that everyone can see. Most are theological and mostly are minor doctrines, yet many spend hours debating and fixing without going first inquiring about what the other party meant.
In the New Testament, we were given a biblical guideline on correcting spiritual errors. There is a good reason why this was in Scripture. Let’s look at this verse:
Matthew 18:15-17“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
Many now, instead of messaging (whether through email, personal message, or better meeting with them face to face privately) a brother or a sister in error, we would instead put it in our Facebook feed or Twitter for all the world to see. What’s worse is that we don’t even hear the other side of the story but get an assortment of information from different sources forgetting that the best way to know what the context is – you go straight to the primary source. Matthew made it clear how we need to confront sin or error – PRIVATELY.
I am personally a victim of this practice. A person I don’t know posted a quote that they said was from me. It was a quote that I agree with, yet if put on Instagram or Twitter might be taken out of context. And as to my fear, some people took it out of context on social media. And with that picture quote that I did not produce – I, the church that I pastor, and my family were not spared by people who accused, gossiped, and degraded us with their comments.
I have friends in the ministry where videos of their preaching were spliced to make it sound like lousy theology or people taking pictures of a point in the preaching and concluding that everything he said in that one hour was theologically wrong. They were never reached out to or message, and I think that is theological malpractice. We have lost the art of confronting error. It would have been nice to have someone messaged me and said how they felt about what was preached and told me if ever I was in error so that I could correct it to the people who heard my message.
What is sad was that I never got a message, an email from people who attacked me – people who I haven’t met, any people who I don’t know. It’s sad, yet it’s reality. At those moments, I have to remind myself that I should not be affected by malicious rumors or even judgments made against me without really knowing who I am and what the context is.
Can I stop people from continually correcting an error on Facebook without first messaging privately the person they are attacking? I don’t know. I am sure that we are given a biblical guideline to follow, and following that guideline would spare us some hurt and pain in the future.
PS: If you have any problems with this post, I’ll be glad to read your private message about this article.