Social media and the internet have given us a newfound courage: keyboard courage. It’s the kind of courage it takes to write a strongly worded social-media post that invites debate and incites emotion. We can say things through our tablets and smartphones that we would never say to a person face to face.
Keyboard courage allows us to draw hard lines, take a stand for our beliefs, turn people off, create barriers, all from the comfort of our homes. We type without thinking through the consequences of those words.
Keyboard courage requires no indwelling of the spirit – it doesn’t require Christ’s lordship. Keyboard courage is counterfeit courage. Jesus calls His disciples to real courage:
When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say. – Luke 12:11-12
“When you are brought…“
Christ centered courage requires vulnerability. Disagreement is easier when can close an app. When listening and learning get hard, we can exit the web browser. Does our courage lead us to listen to and learn from others? Or will we stick to online truth-telling?
“…do not worry about how you will defend yourselves…”
Christ centered courage does not put joy at the mercy of an editorial. Reacting to a talk show host or press conference often leads to turbulent comments. Anger and defensiveness are signs of anxiety, not of peace. Christ centered courage allows us to speak the truth with confidence and love (Ephesians 4:15).
“…the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time…”
Finally, Christ centered courage is discerning. Jesus’s promise is that the Spirit will teach us “at that time” what to say. God gives us words that fit the occasion (Proverbs 15:23). It takes compassionate listening to discern whether courage requires affirmation of God’s love, a gentle or strong rebuke, a gospel summary, or silence.
As more and more of our communication takes place online, we face a growing danger of possessing bold keyboards while lacking the courage for face to face listening, learning and prayer. And the world is watching:
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35