What if our theologizing—especially how we engage with others of differing theological viewpoints in social media—are more Spirit-filled than flesh-driven? As Christian theologians, we are on a quest for biblical truth, and it is good because the Spirit is “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:17; 15:26). But he is also “the Spirit of holiness” (Rom. 1:4), so the way we interact with others must not be like those who do not know God.
But sadly, our sinful tendencies are being exposed to the social media world. Instead of being godly theologians, we are amused in devouring one another or seeing others (with popcorn GIFs) throw verbal punches. There are times that the flesh seems to be having the upper hand as we type our responses to others.
There will be a massive shift in our theological landscape—though long-standing differences may remain—if our theological discussions will be marked by “the fruit of the Spirit” rather than “the desires of the flesh.”
LOVE. Do you point out what you perceive are errors or deficiencies on the doctrinal positions of others because you love them as brothers or do you love to show your theological acumen at the expense of others?
JOY. Do you find delight in growing deeper in the knowledge of God and his Word and in helping others grow with you, or do you find secret satisfaction in proving others wrong or putting them in a bad light?
PEACE. Do others holding a different viewpoint find you amiable or easy to get along with, or would they rather avoid you because of your tendency to turn theological disagreements into heated personal conflicts?
PATIENCE. Are you patient with others who are finding it hard to understand your position or do you tend to get impatient and angry especially to those who misrepresent or slander you?
KINDNESS. When someone started throwing unkind remarks on your theological post, do you tend to reply with similarly unkind words or use the emoji as a form of mockery, or are you more intentional in thinking how you can put out small fires before it burns the whole forest?
GOODNESS. Do you give others the benefit of the doubt and still assume that they have good intentions in what they say, or are you quick to dismiss someone’s arguments just because they hold to a different theological system?
FAITHFULNESS. Do you find it easier to give up on someone’s growth in knowledge or character (saying, “There is no hope for this person to change.”), or do you persevere in doing good and trust God to work in his heart, and in your heart as well?
GENTLENESS. Do you choose your words carefully—thinking how it might affect others—or you don’t care if you’re already being rude, sarcastic, or disrespectful—thinking that that person deserves to be treated that way?
SELF-CONTROL. Do you feel the urge to express everything that you’re thinking or feeling without regard for others (will it edify other Christians or give witness to unbelievers that we are a gospel people?), or do you sometimes choose to be silent (if that is the wiser response) or delay your response until such time that you have your emotions under control so that you can make a more reasonable contribution to the discussion?
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.Galatians 5:24-26 ESV