The Wild Wild Web

This post was a Voice AM lesson adapted for your reading pleasure.

When the stay-at-home order hit Orange County and church was brought online, I remember thinking, “Okay, I really need to start using Instagram to stay connected with people in these times.” So I did. Unfortunately since then, the online social community has become a crippling minefield. If I can be honest, I have since logged off – going back to post about church and engaging with whatever is at the top of my feed when I do. The world already seems more hopeful. But for you brave soldiers who continue on, here’s some tips on how to keep your sanity and, more importantly, your salvation online. This lesson was originally called “How to defeat the cancel culture in your own life” and it’s meant as a guide for Christian-to-Christian interactions specifically – although it can help anyone! 

How to defeat cancel culture in your own life: 

L.I.S.T.E.N.

Least common denominator

  • Don’t start with what you disagree on and work backwards
  • First find where you DO agree and work forwards
  • Ex: At the most basic level, do we both love Jesus? Good. Let’s build from there.

Imagine what it feels like to be whoever you’re engaging with 

  • Be the first (to do what you want someone else to do), even if you’re the ONLY one to do it
  • It is not our prerogative to force someone else to walk in our shoes. It’s our prerogative to force ourselves to walk in someone else’s shoes. 

Say no to yourself

  • Know your limits. Know your triggers. Don’t let yourself get into too many draining conversations on a daily basis. Set an actual limit and then once you’ve hit that limit, disengage. 
  • Prioritize your peace. If you start to feel comfortable being angry, you’ve gone too far. Reach out to someone and have them help you take a break. 
  • Psalm 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Take arguments at face value

  • Don’t delve deeper into places you weren’t invited into 
    • If I’m talking to a guy friend of mine, we happen upon the topic of gender roles and he expresses that he agrees with “traditional” roles for men and women (like, men work, women make sandwiches and have babies), there’s a perfect opportunity to assume way more about him than he just told me. 
      • So he’s a sexist? So he thinks I’m living my life wrong? So he thinks I’m less than him? Has our friendship been a lie?
      • Guess what – he didn’t say any of that…. he expressed his personal belief on the topic. Who knows why he believes what he does? Maybe he grew up with a single mom who had to work 3 jobs and he wants to be able to provide for his future wife so she can have the chance to spend time with her kids that his mom didn’t have. Maybe he grew up in a house where dad worked and mom didn’t and he had the best childhood. So he feels like emulating what he saw because he’s seen it work. Maybe… he’s a sexist! Here’s the thing though: he didn’t tell me any of that. So unless I am going to ask him to divulge more information – which he will only do if he knows I’m a safe person to talk to – then I’m going to take his opinion at face value. And even though I disagree, I’m going to zoom out and look at the tapestry of our entire relationship and realize that this one view of his hasn’t kept him from being a friend to me. And maybe one day he’ll change his mind. Maybe one day I’ll change mine. But I’m not going to discredit everything we do have in common just because we’ve happened upon a difference of opinion. (BTW, this friend doesn’t exist. But I enjoyed his character development.)
  • Generalizations always require assumptions 
  • If you want someone to assume the best in you, you MUST assume the best in them

Everyone gets a voice 

  • Be okay with not finding a solution or a “winner”
  • De-prioritize getting your point across and prioritize comprehending the other person’s point of view
  • Not every conversation needs a unanimous resolution. Conversations with believers shouldn’t have a winner or a loser. People want to be heard. 
  • James 1:19 “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,”

Never get off message

  • John 13:35 “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
  • Avoid ideological idols. If the thing you are discussing does not have a black and white, clearly Biblical, eternal consequence, then be open to the idea that your viewpoint may not be the only correct one. If you’re unsure, seek out a a spiritual leader.
  • On your own time, be consistently asking God to strip you of anything you have attached to your identity besides your salvation and relationship with Him. 

Food for thought: 

When one of you has a dispute with another believer, how dare you file a lawsuit and ask a secular court to decide the matter instead of taking it to other believers! 2 Don’t you realize that someday we believers will judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can’t you decide even these little things among yourselves? 3 Don’t you realize that we will judge angels? So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disputes in this life. 4 If you have legal disputes about such matters, why go to outside judges who are not respected by the church? 5 I am saying this to shame you. Isn’t there anyone in all the church who is wise enough to decide these issues? 6 But instead, one believer sues another—right in front of unbelievers! 7 Even to have such lawsuits with one another is a defeat for you. Why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that? Why not let yourselves be cheated? 8 Instead, you yourselves are the ones who do wrong and cheat even your fellow believers.

1 Corinthians 6:1-8

Keep going to church. Keep praying. Read the Bible more than your feed.

And stay safe out there in the Wild Wild Web. 

  • Kaimana Gonzalez

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