Shortly after the New Year and before the inauguration I pulled away from social media.
Like many others, I found myself becoming someone I didn’t like as I saw smear and hate fill my newsfeed. Anger and judgment flooded my soul as I saw people who say they love Jesus revealing hate as though the Gospel is only for select people groups.
As the scripture tells us, if your arm causes you to sin, cut it off. Facebook got cut off as well as other modes of social media. What I learned in my time away revealed way more about me than what I pulled away from.
Quickly, I became a silent sideliner. In my effort to not offend or get involved in any controversial conversations I became silent. Withdrawing can have a good sweet purpose transforming the heart and transcending soul. Jesus withdrew to the Father, but Jesus didn’t stay withdrawn. Unlike Jesus, my withdrawing revealed some deep dark sin that needed to be called out, confessed and cleansed.
While I withdrew and became silent, I still checked Facebook periodically to check in on friends and family. Silence was a safe space to scroll newsfeeds but not respond. Let’s be honest that’s either a busy body or disengagement. Out of fear of arguing, being misunderstood, or saying the wrong thing; my disengagement on Facebook began mirroring itself in my relationships. Not only was I silenced from controversy, I was also silenced from encouraging.
It wasn’t until someone I care about was insulted and I didn’t respond that God’s conviction stirred deep to face the sin before me. Do I believe the Truth enough to speak up? Are my convictions deep enough to handle potential disapproval of others? Doesn’t love stand up for those who are unable to speak for themselves? I allowed my fear of conflict to push me onto the sidelines, spiraling into silent spectator.
I hate conflict and I try to avoid it at all cost. Whether through people pleasing or withdrawing, overall I’ve done a pretty good job of avoiding it. But here’s a truth that needs to permeate deep in my soul…you can’t avoid conflict in a world stained by sin. You can’t stay silent while people perish.
Conviction leads to clarity and then choice. I can either learn to engage in conflict with love, truth and grace or become a silent sideliner who, just like the Priest and Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan, intentionally avoid the messy, hurting, wounded and mistreated. While it is not God’s will for me to engage in useless arguments, by God’s grace may I never again find myself a disengaged silent sideliner withholding truth God has graciously given to bring life.
Maybe you can relate…
♥ How are you becoming a silent sideliner in the midst of a spiritual war that has already been won?
♥ Where do you need to ask God to strengthen you to engage in necessary conflict for the good of others?
♥ What if Jesus remained a silent sideliner?