We live in an age of convenient relationships. If we don’t want to talk with a nagging mother, thanks to caller ID we can ignore her. If a friend goes weird, we can ghost him. If a colleague expresses political views contrary to our own, we can unfollow her.

Sometimes, with all of the negativity in the world, we don’t need any more pumping into our lives. Sometimes these methods are just easier.

But what then? Our newsfeeds become narrower, our worlds shrink to only those who agree with us in every way, and our hearts shrink too. We no longer embrace difficult people in kindness. We no longer reach out to show God’s love to them. How many negative people will commit suicide this year because all the positive people unfollowed them?

I recently saw a picture on Facebook along with a catchy poem promising to unfollow people who rant or are rude. Each person who responded had liked or laughed at the post. I couldn’t help wondering how many other Christians would repost it.

This breaks my heart because I believe it breaks Jesus’ too.

We pay lip service to the idea that Jesus loves everyone, including the difficult. So why do we think that we should do any less on social media?

Social media is not a video game. It’s not an escape from life. Every minute we spend on social media affects the rest of our lives. As human beings, we are integrated people. Our online personas are part of who we are. Those social media platforms are a training ground for the rest of our lives. What we do there matters.

Do we live like Christ there, or do we blow up? Do we allow ugly behaviours from our friends to drive us to our knees in praying for them? Do we allow the less-than-respectable behaviour of a coworker to remind us that she’s not as scary as we once thought, and give us new courage to approach her with the good news of Jesus? Do we allow someone’s weird political views to remind us that we, too, might be wrong in some way?

These unlovely, unfriendly, unlikeable people are the exact ones who Jesus loves, and who Jesus died for.

We are all broken. Often other people can see our faults better than we can. Who are we to slap labels on people and reject them? How dare we treat ourselves as somehow superior to them? How dare we essentially say that they’re not good enough, but somehow we are?

Even as I write these words, I feel the prick of conscience. I, too, have unfollowed negative and weird people. But seeing that poem and picture gave me the wake up call that I’ve needed for quite some time.

So here’s the challenge:

If you can’t take all the negativity in the world, stop watching the news. Stop searching out negative YouTube videos and social commentators. If you can’t handle Facebook, stop using it.  But let’s stop training ourselves to close down our hearts to people we don’t like. Let’s allow their quirks and faults to shape our love and humility.

We each have our own dark, ugly corners. I’m just thankful that Jesus doesn’t unfriend me when I’m unlikeable.



NOTES

Photo source for: Bell Let's Talk