Evangelism in Cancel Culture
Never in my lifetime has there been a moment when I look at the Western world and want to shake my head as much as I do right now. I’m not talking about Black Lives Matter, the protests, or the riots. I’m talking about this Cancel Culture that just seems to want to remove anything that offends us without taking multiple things into consideration such as when the event occurred, what was the world like then, or even what evils we may have committed ourselves.
Before you either shout your agreement with me or want to call me out because you vehemently disagree, let me say that I’m not here to debate Cancel Culture. What I do want to talk about is how Christians can evangelize in the midst of this culture. I don’t agree with Cancel Culture at all, but it’s here and we need to figure out how to work in it.
Engaging someone on social media on hot issues is generally never a good idea. It can be hard to get your true intentions across from a screen on someone else’s computer. Conversation is meant to happen in person where we can hear the tone of delivery and non-verbal cues. Communication between human beings is never as simple as exchanging words. We say so much with our body language, our eyes, and the tone we add to our words.
I want to take note of how Paul encourages Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:22-23,
“Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 But reject foolish and ignorant disputes, because you know that they breed quarrels.”
As well as Romans 13:13-14,
“Let us walk with decency, as in the daytime: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to gratify its desires.”
There are more verses that talk about avoiding quarrels and fruitless conversations/arguments but I think you get the point. Social media is an easy place for things to blow up and we need to be careful who we engage and when we engage. If it’s going to lead to an argument or an emotional fight, then we would be best off avoiding engaging the person or topic.
Listen More Than You Talk
It’s important that we hear what the other person or side is saying. With the Cancel Culture of today, if you don’t agree with the majority then you are immediately shut down, canceled, fired, etc. The issue with this, even if the person disagreeing is completely wrong, is that we don’t take the time to understand one another, nor do we take the time to value the other side as actual human beings created in the image of God (imago dei).
The writer of James urges his readers to listen more than they talk,
“My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, 20 for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.” (James 1:19-20)
Our anger is usually misplaced and does not accomplish much, if anything. We are encouraged to take the time to listen before we speak, and to truly understand what the other person/side is saying. Take the time to hear them out and then respond. We are not called to be reactionary, but to actually take the time to listen and respond appropriately in a godly manner.
If there was ever a time we need to listen before we speak, it is now. We need to hear the other side, even if they’re wrong, and work with them towards a solution or towards the Gospel. It does no good for us to just throw the gospel at people if we’re not hearing them and treating them as people. Take the time to listen, hear their story and learn their point of view, and then share the gospel or a gospel response with them.
How we respond is another big factor we need to consider. As we saw above, James clearly tells us that our anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. It does us no good to be emotional and reactionary during a conversation. Which is why it’s important to listen and then respond. If you can’t enter a conversation without doing those things, then stay away from the conversation.
If you can partake in a conversation, and you do listen and understand what the other person is saying, then it is very important to know how to respond. For instance, 1 Peter 3 speaks to Christians who are suffering, and they’re told that if they must suffer then they should suffer for doing good. And although I can’t say we suffer much in the West, I do believe the advice given can help us today.
“but in your hearts regard[e] Christ[f] the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 16 Yet do this with gentleness and reverence, keeping a clear conscience…”(1 Peter 3:15-16)
I believe that this is how we should respond to people, even if they are vehemently against us. We should always be ready to give a defense of our beliefs, but to do so with gentleness and reverence. I do not believe for a second that we should be attacking people with the gospel or throwing it at them. Instead, we should be able to defend our faith in a godly manner that leaves us with a clear conscience.
Let us take a stand against culture in a way that makes them aware of our faith, but that we can walk away with our reputation in tack. We are not here to argue, to demean, or to shame others. That’s actually what culture is doing. We are called to give a defense of our faith, to show people Christ, and to preach His good news. Let’s do so with wisdom and godly discernment.