Hi everyone, I don’t get much time to look at Facebook but I occasionally see a post from one of my many non believing friends/colleagues that opens a door to introduce Christ into the conversation. The responses are often fractious with a lot of Dawkins style one liners (with no substance) and some frankly absurd objections aimed at a straw man version of Jesus. However I feel that burden to speak and dialogue with people trying all the while to be graceful and pray for them while in the midst of it. I honestly don’t enjoy it though, it’s wearying to the soul at times and I just wondered what others experiences have been with this? Also, I mentioned absurd objections, i’ve become more and more convinced that some people will do anything to escape being accountable to God, saying the most far fetched things to try and quash Christ, is this something you’ve felt also? I’m not surprised of course, we’re in the midst of a battle for souls and the enemy is at work. Thanks.
I agree with you that dialoging about Christianity with some non-believers is very hard and can be very trying at times. The one thought I always keep at the back of my mind is that it is God who saves. I think that is important to remember as the pressure is not on us. If people reject the Gospel message, they have not rejected you but Christ. Also I think it is worth keeping in mind that many of us are not being physically persecuted for our faith as the early apostles were and as many believers in certain countries are facing on a day to day basis. Facebook and other media sources are a reasonably safe platform to dialogue in this regard. But don’t stop sharing the Gospel, and if people appear that they don’t want to have an honest discussion then it may just be best to walk away, depending how the Spirit leads you. Remember, the pressure is not on you. But sometimes in these online discussions with atheists who raise obsurd objections I will just ask them to explain themselves more and show a real interest in their viewpoint. Really find out what is at the heart of their objections and whether they have evidence for their viewpoint. We mustn’t forget that we are all broken people and sin takes a tole on all of us and wants to stop us from knowing God. It is why I believe the heart of the battle is a spiritual one, not intellectual. It is very difficult at times though Graham but most times, for me, if I stop caring about the person writing the objections because I have become annoyed with them, then I know I must check my own heart and return to the Lord in prayer. It is a spiritual battle and can affect both sides.
But I am sure many others have more experience in this area so hopefully they will be able to share more about their own personal online discussions.
@GJAlder I thought this article had a fairly balanced perspective on using Social Media to share Christ. I generally don’t engage on debates on someone’s wall or news feed for the same reason I do not get into debates on the comments section of Christian YouTube videos - I have simply never seen it lead to anything beneficial. I think that we share our faith via social media the same way we do in real life - by being a contributing member of the online community who takes the time to care about others and spreads the aroma / knowledge of Christ.
This article suggested we do that by first being good members of the community - commenting on peoples post, engaging with them and also sharing our own lives in the same way. Once we have done that, then we can share status updates about how God’s Word may be strengthening us, Church events or other Christian topics. But it begins by being a good member of the community.
Most of the beneficial ministry I did through facebook happened when a friend or friend of a friend contacted me directly and wanted to ask some questions about God, rather than on someone’s wall or news feed.
Has your experience been different? What fruit have you seen from news feed conversations? I’m not on the FB scene nowadays, but that was my experience in the past.
Facebook is powerful because it is relational.
Thanks Brian I appreciate your insight, you’re right with respect to even being able to dialogue freely with people, many of our brothers and sisters not enjoying that freedom. It remains a good opportunity to share, with the Holy Spirits guidance, wisely. I trust that through it all, though often the fig tree does not bud, Christ will be raised up and draw people to Himself - as you rightly say I am not their saviour. God Bless.
Thanks for this Sean, a good article with lots of food for thought. There have been two or three occasions where I offered another perspective on social/moral issues (identity, sexuality, marriage) and in one case found myself ‘surrounded’ by at least five replies all fiercely critical, in all honesty it was uncomfortable, not because I doubted the position I’d presented but the animosity. I chose my words very carefully, avoiding the sensational or provocative but the mere presence of my questioning the majority view did not go down well, tolerance being in short supply. That said after choosing not to respond to some abusive comments I did then have extended dialogue with one former colleague and explained at length the Christian perspective on these matters. It was candid and courteous while accepting we disagreed. I certainly learned a lot from it in terms of the mood of our times and how I best offer an explanation in hostile settings.
@GJAlder Yes, the animosity can be shocking. May the Lord use your patience and gentleness to demonstrate His love to these folks who were so disagreeable. It is great that you had a chance to talk with your coworker - I always enjoy those conversations where you disagree and yet still have a meaningful, respectful dialogue.
What do you feel you learned from this experience? How do you think you will approach it differently in the future?
With the benefit of hindsight I think I could have opened up the issue with more of a question, something Ravi often speaks of … and to be careful with analogies, I’m learning that you need to pick them very carefully or you can put up a blocker to others in a conversation quickly. One of the big limitations however with Facebook is that you end up having staggered conversations over a number of days, one reply being sent after another, there’s not a lot of ‘flow’!
@GJAlder The staggered nature of conversations on social media is certain an interesting factor. I wonder if there have been any studies on how that staggered nature affects conversations. That is a great point about questions as well - it is easy to try to answer a question even before the other person has asked it. I struggle with doing so - and realizing later I should have left more room for the other person to think through the issue.
Thanks Sean, I appreciate the conversation, lots to think about. God Bless.