Psalms 19:14 (NIV)
14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
I realise that all good conversation includes the discussion of ideas, thoughts and feelings. I also realize that if we all had the same ideas, thoughts and feelings, then conversations would be fairly limited.
Conversations are made up of different voices, and diversity is good. One reason I am a Methodist is that there is such a large variety of perspectives and points of view within Methodism. It is described as a “broad” church and one that celebrates diversity. If we all spoke with the same voice then we would have “monologues”, not conversations.
Evangelism is one of the priorities of our missional church. Evangelism is intrinsically linked to mission and today it is much more about having conversations than trying to convert people. This is why I welcome the opportunities social media offer us to engage in more open, honest conversations with people of other faiths, or of no faith. We have opportunities to engage with people on Facebook or twitter we would never meet face to face. We have numerous opportunities to spread a little of God’s love to the people we meet online.
Yet I am increasingly disturbed and disappointed by the lack of respect, graciousness and good manners that is so often evident in many online discussions, particularly from those people who profess to be Christians. What impression must this give to non-Christians about the way we live our lives?
I understand that, when we are passionate about something, when we really believe in something, then we want to shout it from the rooftops and tell the world. But it seems that, only too often, people are so rigidly entrenched in their own view of things, so convinced that they are right and the other person is wrong, that courtesy goes out of the window! Diversity seems to quickly become division, in such cases.
How do we develop the art of good conversation in our social media discussions? How do we express our ideas and views in positive, non-threatening ways? Do we understand the importance of listening to other people?
Humility is a word that is not often used today, but humility is a virtue we should embrace in our online activities if we are to be effective witnesses to the good news of Jesus Christ.