Cori Meier, Y4Life Assistant

Maybe you’ve seen it on social media – the tendency toward verbally annihilating people we don’t agree with. Disagree with someone politically or ideologically? Let’s jump straight to the name-calling. People are called “slime,” “garbage,” or any other host of demeaning words. Social media users are quick to demonize those who hold different views. Nicknames are made up for the politicians that people disagree with. Memes are created to make fun of influencers and celebrities. People laugh at the things they agree with and take offense when someone disagrees with them or calls out their behavior. Users hide behind screens because the repercussions they face are less harsh through a small glowing rectangle than if they were to act the same way face-to-face.

And even though we’d rather not admit it, Christians do it too. We desire to be loving, but we fall into sin, demeaning others through our words online. Instead of seeing the person we disagree with as someone created and loved by God, we lash out at them. We make them less than human and feel justified. After all, those names are accurate, right? And when we engage with cruelty, we forget what the Bible says in Genesis 1, that God created man in His image (Genesis 1:26-27). We break the first and eighth commandments. We create our own gods of politics and ideology, and we harm our neighbor’s reputation rather than speaking well of him. We take on a moral superiority when we should be thinking about how to share the Gospel with those with whom we disagree.

And that, in a nutshell, is exactly why we need Jesus. Paul reminds us that the good we want to do, we cannot do (Romans 7:15-20). Without the Holy Spirit, we can do no good. We give in to temptation. We break God’s law. We need Christ to bring us new life. We need Him to live in us, deliver us from temptation, and to rescue, restore, and forgive us daily.

We fail because of sin; but because of Christ’s work in our lives, we can say no to temptation.

Though we can never live up to Christ’s example, by God’s grace, Christ works in our lives so that we might reflect Him. Jesus didn’t align with a political or social party when He was on earth. Rather, He aligned Himself with His Father’s will, focusing on what God wanted for His people. Jesus didn’t look at the tax-collectors and call them slime. He didn’t belittle the Samaritans who lived outside of the Jewish laws and customs. Instead, He loved them. He was there at their creation, and He had come for their redemption. His work, His love, made each human He made valuable. And it still does today.

Through the lens of Scripture, we, too, can see people in the same way – created by God, in His image, with value and purpose. And when we do, we see them differently. We see them as beloved children of God, created for His plan and His purpose. We see them as gifts given to the world by God Himself, human beings we’re designed to love (Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27). In loving our neighbor, we speak well of him (Luther’s explanation of the Eighth Commandment). May God work in our lives and through our words to uphold life in-person and on social media, now and always.