The other day, I “Tweeted” (actually, I “Facebooked”, but it’s linked to my Twitter account so it posted there, as well) about Holy Audacity. The post basically talked about being bold and expecting God to move in bold ways. Someone I don’t know responded with a sarcastic remark, insulting Christians for what he perceived to be a lack of critical thinking skills. I considered several initial responses, none of which would have represented Jesus well. I decided to exercise a little self-control, take a step back, and really consider the matter.
And him, the guy on Twitter who responded to my tweet.
There is just no way to defend my faith or address the critical thinking issue in 140 characters or less. Even if there were, I firmly believe that if you state something in 140 characters when you could do it in 14,000, well, you’re just not trying hard enough. But then again, I should probably listen more than I speak.
So, guy on Twitter, the rest of this is for you. By the way, I’m protecting your identity – not because of my vast audience (I have none. Okay, I have One), but simply out of respect for you.
My initial reaction to your tweet was anger, which may or may not have been your intent, but my pride is penetrating and deep and you struck a nerve. Once that subsided, however, I went to a different place; I wanted to convince you what you said was inaccurate and present another side. I thought about responding and simply telling you to have a nice day or posting some sort of respectful rebuttal. I wanted to somehow convey to you that not only do I possess critical thinking skills, but I also have done a fair amount of research and really do appreciate Apologetics, as well as a good debate (there’s a little of that pride again – I knew that would be the main thing conveyed in any response from me). No matter what I came up with, I don’t think it would have swayed you to believe in Jesus. Nor will your comments sway me to not believe. So then I decided to leave it be.
For like 3 days.
Because here’s the thing. I don’t know you, but I wonder if we were at a dinner party, or in a crowded restaurant, and you heard me talking about the concept of Holy Audacity, I wonder if you would have approached me in the same way you did on Twitter. I don’t know you so maybe you would have. But I wonder. And that is the problem with social media.
I would love to enter into a discussion on faith, and God, and philosophy, and science. The problem is, though, that conversations about those topics are just that – conversations. Those types of conversations are best had in person. And before we ventured down that path, I would want to get to know you some. And I’d like you to have the opportunity to get to know me. Maybe if you did, you would see me as someone as opposed to something: a faceless entity or an anonymous simpleton. Perhaps if I got to know you, I would see that you are so much deeper than a snide remark. You are someone. In time, we could get to know each other as people, learn about our pasts and our future aspirations, about our hopes and fears, our interests and hobbies, our favorite movies and pet peeves. We could gain an insight and understanding of our life events, our challenges, struggles, and successes: the things in life that shaped and scarred us, created our worldview and made us who we are today.
At some point, we could sit with a warm cup of coffee and settle in for a talk. The kind of talk that hopes all things and shares all things and lasts for hours; lasts so long that you wonder where the time has gone. I would want to know you- who you are, what you’re all about. I would share who I am. Not as a social media presence, but as a person. A someone. Only then could we really engage in meaningful discussion. And there is so much to talk about, isn’t there? It’s not as simple as a tweet. It would hopefully be the first of many talks and discussions, with both sides weighing in, exchanging thoughts, asking questions and neither knowing all the answers.
Maybe in the end things would be different. Maybe nothing would change. Maybe more questions would be posed, and new things would be considered and worldviews would be challenged. Maybe we would agree to disagree, but with a new-found respect and mutual consideration. Maybe you would think you wasted your time on the lady on Twitter with no critical thinking skills. With only 140 characters or less between us, I don’t think we’ll ever know. Social media is positive in some ways, but when it comes to conversations between people like us, technology can fail.
I do hope you give someone the chance to have these types of discussions, though. If you’ve tried and found them lacking, that really is too bad. It is true that so many of us aren’t prepared to give a reason for the hope that we have, a defense for our faith. I hope you come across someone that does, and if you do, I hope you will give them a chance. I hope you can sit down with a hot coffee or a cold beer and settle in for the type of talk that resonates with you deep inside your soul, the kind of talk that stays with you forever; an eternity.