In the wake of the 2016 election results, Facebook users are “unfriending” those they politically disagree with at an alarming rate. What does this say about our ability to handle conflict and our emotional and relational immaturity?
It’s no secret that Facebook has become the modern-day town square. Instead of gathering together in the center of town for a face-to-face discussion about cultural issues, people can now hide behind the faceless interaction of the internet and Facebook. As a result, what used to require coming back to the table to resolve issues has now become a dump-and-run society. In other words, if you disagree with someone today you can simply “unfriend” them and say goodbye. A simple cyberspace “au revoir” and you’re conflict free! Sounds good, right?
But what does God have to say about it?
Ephesians 4:1-2 – …walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love…
Patience is a godly virtue and not one the world seems to readily embrace today. In fact, some might say patience is weakness and it’s better to make your stand or leave! But that couldn’t be further from the truth. It is much easier to operate with a “my way or the highway” approach, then to be patient and hang in there with those whom you disagree. Humility, gentleness, patience, and bearing with others takes incredible godly strength especially when emotions are running high. Yet, this is what God has called every Christian to do!
God wants Christians to be an example of Jesus and avoid getting caught up in the fear-based, vicarious value system of today’s man-centered culture (see my blog post, How to Handle an Election Loss). Christians are called to be different!
So simply put, if you are tempted to “unfriend” someone who is frustrating or irritating, don’t do it! Rather than delete them, pray for them. Rather than avoid them, be patient with them. In doing so, you will be shining the light of Christ where it is needed most.
We live in a divided world and if Christians aren’t any different then where is the hope going to come from? So don’t wimp out, hang in there and keep the friends you have on Facebook. In doing so you will be stepping into what biblical love is all about. You will also develop some emotional and relational muscles in the process.