The primary call on God’s people is not to win arguments but to win hearts by His Spirit with God’s wisdom and love.   

If there was ever a time in history when God’s people needed to be “as wise as serpents yet harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16), it is today, in our current cultural climate. There is an ever-present hostility everywhere, waiting to provoke us to give a “gotcha” statement so we can be marginalized, canceled, and destroyed.

While many of God’s people have wrestled with the temptation of online sexual pornography, there is an even more tempting form of pornography that many Christians are falling into every day.  It is called “Outrage Porn.”  Unfortunately, America has long been the worldwide leader in creating and exporting sexual pornography, but now we have become the worldwide leader of Outrage Porn.  The term “Outrage Porn” is defined as “any type of media or narrative designed to use outrage to provoke strong emotional reactions for the purpose of expanding audiences or increasing engagement.”

Marketers have long realized that hostility is the most powerful tool for attracting people to their sites. Anger sells, and more eyes on their pages mean more advertising money in their pockets. This is obvious when you look at the reporting on any event, especially with YouTube influencers and wannabes. They take a 5-minute clip of a speech or event and triple the time with their face in the corner of the screen, stopping it multiple times to express their anger, give their interpretation, and spin it with outrage.  It is emotionally and spiritually sickening.

An Example

I was once sent a picture of a controversial social media post from a Christian I knew, which shocked me. In person, he was thoughtful and kind, but the post I was viewing was incredibly inflammatory. I immediately went to his social media site to find the post’s context, but it had been removed.

A few weeks later, I visited with a friend who holds a high position in an international company.  We discussed how executives like him had to exercise caution in their social media world.  As we spoke of his experiences, he brought up the previously mentioned post, as he also knew the individual. He knew the back story as to why it was removed as one of his friends personally challenged the individual, and he removed it.

I asked him, “How could such a wise, thoughtful person who walks with Jesus post something like that?”  The individual acknowledged the motivation that was uncovered when confronted.  He had a significant following under his brand name, which I was clueless about, and he was trying to stir up things to increase his following.  THIS IS THE TEMPTATION OF OUTRAGE PORN.

Consider how the Bible instructs us to engage the world and people with different perspectives. 

  • 1 Peter 3:15 GW, be ready to defend your confidence in God when anyone asks you to explain it. However, make your defense with gentleness and respect.
  • 2Timothy 2:24-26  The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged,  (25)  with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,  (26)  and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
  • Col 4:2-6  Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;  (3)  praying…that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ…  (5)  Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.  (6)  Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person (NLT Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.  MSG …Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.)

This doesn’t sound like stirring up outrage porn.  As a matter of fact, it is the opposite.  Stirring up outrage doesn’t work to bring people to “our side” or to Christ but, in fact, drives them away.  I remember a social media post that exemplified this during a previous election cycle.

Dear person passionately pushing your political agenda on Facebook. You helped me become less apathetic. -I now hate the other side. -I see it now. -Your side leads to complete sainthood while the other side are all demons. -Congratulations! -You have convinced me to change my vote. -Thank you for helping me see the light. -Appreciatively yours, – NO ONE.  

Important things to remember in embracing God’s design for being His witnesses as we interact with people who differ from us.

1. Pray, Pray, Pray.  If we are to embrace God’s heart, we must walk with Him. 

2. Walk in God’s design of love in the middle of any warfare.  Both Jesus and Paul clearly defined the traits of God’s love in John 13, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, and Philippians 2:1-11, “Patience, kindness, not jealous, no bragging, non-arrogance, does not seek its own, not easily provoked, doesn’t take into account wrongs committed against them, endures all things, and hopes in all things,  Doesn’t have selfish ambition, willing to unite and walk in unity with others, humble in mind seeing others a more important than self, doesn’t look out for its own interest but the interest of others, has a humble attitude, and is a servant.”

3. Remember that everyone is fighting an inward battle.  People who react or stir up trouble are often secretly fighting a battle inside them that provokes their attitudes on the surface.  Try to look by the Spirit, deeper than their words, into a life that desperately needs Jesus.  Maybe Holy Spirit will give you a word of knowledge or wisdom to unlock their hearts.

4. Make sure anything you write or say is RESPONDING BY THE SPIRIT, not, REACTING BY THE FLESH.  Paul clearly defines the difference in Galatians 5:19-25.

  • Galatians 5:19-25  Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are…enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,  (21)… and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  (22)  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  (23)  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  (24)  Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  (25)  If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

5. Always seek to see people through God’s heart.

  • Matthew 9:35-36  Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.  (36)  Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.

Even as Jesus was going to Jerusalem to suffer and die, He still viewed those opposed to Him through God’s heart (Mattew 23:37 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who killed the prophets, how I longed to gather you together…”)

If we follow God and embrace these truths by His Spirit, we will stand out as God’s witnesses, demonstrating and declaring the Good News of Jesus. 

  • Philippians 2:14-16 GNB Do everything without complaining or arguing,  (15)  so that you may be innocent and pure as God’s perfect children, who live in a world of corrupt and sinful people. You must shine among them like stars lighting up the sky,  (16)  as you offer them the message of life. If you do so, I shall have reason to be proud of you on the Day of Christ, because it will show that all my effort and work have not been wasted.