by Edie Melson in Leading Hearts magazine

IN SOCIAL MEDIA TERMS, IT’S A VOLATILE WORLD OUT THERE.

So often, what’s posted online seems more focused on stabbing and wounding than on encouraging and sharpening. Part of that is due to the medium.

Almost 100 percent of the time, online interaction lacks the warmth of a real-time, human connection. It’s an impersonal — anonymous — medium. While we may call those we connect with “friends,” many of them are just faceless names.

When we’re speaking online, it’s far too easy to be so focused on what we want to share that we forget the individual — hurting — hearts of those we’re communicating with.

Many of us are passionate about the message we want to share with the world. And the motivation behind that message is love and concern. It’s hard to communicate that love to the diverse readership online, especially when the message is a difficult one.

I will sit and talk truth with anyone, in person. But I’m less willing to broach difficult subjects online where I’m not sure the love and care I feel for those reading my words can be communicated.

Everyone in ministry needs to know how they feel God is asking them to approach difficult topics — before the situation arises. I have come to a policy that works for me and I feel certain is what God is telling me to do. But please hear my heart on this: He calls each of us to a different path and my approach isn’t the only one to use.

My Social Media Topic Policy

Through much prayer, I have come to the decision to steer away from almost all difficult subjects on social media. That means — for the most part — I don’t discuss politics, share my views on abortion, condemn divorce, weigh in on what makes a marriage, etc.

At first glance, this might appear as though I’m watering down the truth. I don’t see it that way. I’m just not engaging in a public arena where people tend to scream at each other with hostile words and assume the worst motives behind everything that’s shared.

Instead, I’m choosing to focus on the person of Jesus Christ. I talk about his love, his forgiveness, and his call to anyone who hears his voice. Jesus didn’t shout condemnation at an unbelieving world, although he was very stern with the church. Instead, he engaged with individuals and spoke gentle truth into each one’s specific circumstances.

That’s my prayer with what I post on social media.

I ask God to send me to individuals so that I can communicate his truth in a way that shows his love for them. I want to be someone who clears the path to Jesus, not someone who inserts obstacles. God doesn’t need me to call out sin in others; he’s much more capable of bringing about heart change than I could ever be.

But he can use me to show what Jesus has done in my life. I can share the peace and the overwhelming love that is my constant strength, no matter the difficult circumstances I face.

And he calls me to listen — or read — and pray. I see so many half-truths and outright lies on social media that it breaks my heart. But as I read each one, I pray for the person behind those words, asking God to do a work in that hurting heart.

Is this iron sharpening iron?

Not in the conventional sense. But in the difficult world of online interaction, we need a lot more light — God’s Light — to illuminate the dark.

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