Love is patient and is kind; love doesn’t envy. Love doesn’t brag, is not proud, – 1 Corinthians 13:4
The conversation thread continued into the double digits. The more questions and “facts” he wrote, the more answers my fast fingers typed in. I had several browsers open and my eyes were quick to read and scan to look for the rebuttals that I can copy and paste into the Facebook conversation thread. While I may have won the debate, I now understand that I lost an opportunity to share the Gospel via tools like BibleVerses.com, and create community rather than be right. But what does creating community look like?
I didn’t discover this answer until a few years ago as debating lost its allure. A heaviness was in my heart whenever I felt pulled into a debate rather than a discussion. I also struggled with feelings of self-defensiveness (what if I was wrong?) and the need to want to make things right while being honest (sometimes too honest). So, what DOES community look like?
- It Builds Up. You can lovingly correct someone, disagree with each other, or even not have an answer right away. As a prideful person, I struggled with not having the answers or being wrong. I’m finding as I grow in Christ, being wrong is not so bad and neither is not having all the answers. Most people aren’t looking for the answers; they are looking for someone to care and to listen. The answers do come and usually through scripture and relationship.
- Honesty is an important aspect to a relationship. You do have to know when to be honest and when to get quiet. As a blunt and tactless person, I get into a lot of trouble with my brand of honesty. Oftentimes, I must keep myself in check. Because of honesty though, my relationships are deeper. People know what to expect from me.
- No Finger Digging. Finger digging is when someone proverbially writes something in the conversation thread of social media that names you or others and is more about putting them down rather than staying on topic. This is another version of name calling. If you are going to participate in a discussion, stay on topic. An example of this is when I wrote a book review and used the author’s name instead of the name of the book. Despite it being a memoir, it is always better to use the name of the book. Like in online discussions, don’t attack the person or the source they used. Instead, stay on topic. Be calm. It’s more important to preserve the relationship than to be right.
- Comment moderation. Facebook allows the users to control the comments. Unlike Instagram or other sites, and this is a beautiful thing. You are not censoring. You are setting boundaries on your relationships and establishing a rule of respect whenever someone disagrees with someone else. In my case, I do moderate my social media on Facebook. You can disagree with someone, but you should be nice to the person you disagree with.
- Knowing When to Quit. Occasionally, I will choose not to finish a discussion or even tackle some questions. A tug of war usually occurs in my heart here between the woman I used to be who still wants to be right and the new person who wants the man or woman I am talking with to know Jesus or to move closer to Jesus instead.
- Don’t Use the Bible to Back Your Point in an Argument. A past relationship taught me the Bible can be used in an incorrect and abusive manner. It was never meant to be a sword for a human to manipulate others, but as a guidebook for a person to apply its concepts to themselves first. James 3:1 is a verse I keep close to my heart as I do not want to answer for teaching the wrong thing.
A discussion has a friendlier tone. It uses emoticons to make sure of no miscommunication. It cares for the person over the point. It respects the other in its use of words. The goal is to shake hands at the end of a discussion and know you’d still hang out with him even in spite of him not believing like you believe. This is how community is built.
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