Being a Person of Peace Online 

When we interact online, we are faced not just with a choice of what to say, but what is inspiring our words. Emotions help us name our needs as humans, but do we choose to let them rule us or inspire us? 

What does living as a person of peace look like at home and online?  

I heard the phrase “person of peace” for the first time years ago. And it has stuck with me since then. Over time, it moved from a cute idea to being one of my core values. For me, being a person of peace is twofold. It means I first have to  look to, and lean into, a deep layer of trust between the Creator and myself, ultimately releasing all anger and fear from my life. Then when I move in the world, God uses me to bring His peace and mercy wherever I am, whenever possible.  

The shift happened after I attended a talk covering the story of Moses and his mother, then Issac, Jacob, and Esau. We explored the human experience and invitation that God gives us on our journey to trust Him and discover inner peace.   

This process continued for me through the fervent reading of books about important social and faith-based topics, which allowed me to work through where I am struggling and where my role in any dysfunction may be. This has invited me to a level of vulnerability and honesty I can’t get anywhere else, allowing God to speak to me and reveal His truth to me. I also love to churn spiritual matters over with trusted friends. And through it all, I have focused on one goal: the conscious understanding of what lived-out peace means. 

This involved the shift from controlling the outside environment in order to establish peace vs. what God calls “the peace that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). This is the kind of peace that says it doesn’t matter what you do, only whose you are. 

Whose You Are 

I realized that in order to bring peace to the world, I needed to have internal peace as a child of God. 

The goal isn’t actually to control what is outside of myself, but to truly live out a relationship with Christ. When I feel something now, I try to consider why I was feeling that way. My emotional reaction should turn me internally toward my feelings and behaviors and away from the external influence of others. Instead of asking, “Why are you treating me so dismissively?” I ask, “Why do I feel dismissed? What is God calling me to do?” 

Turning the questions into self-reflection helps me learn more about who God created me to be, where my pain is, and why I am not grounding myself in the love of my Father. After all, this is what Jesus Himself did. 

Since that shift, I don’t need to seek peace in the world around me. Rather, I can trust in WHOSE I am. What version of myself do I present on the internet? I hope it always begins with the love of my Savior. 

Doing this personal work is an important first step before interacting with others. It calls us to be intentional vessels of God’s peace in the world beyond us.  

Language is a Choice 

In one of my favorite spiritual podcasts, the host discussed in one episode how our language matters, that there is power in our words. And the more we begin to pay attention to the language used around us, the more we should recognize how violent and harmful our language has become. 

The guest in response discussed their decision to make a shift and use mindful language in their writing, which transformed their everyday speech into a revolutionary act. They chose words to inspire creativity, love, peace, and gentleness. Words that would, even in a small way, create the world they wanted to live in. 

What does that look like when we engage with hard material online? What are the tools that can be used to avoid harsh, cutting, violent language and instead offer gentleness, kindness, and words of peace? 

For me, I pause before I write. I take a beat, a breath, or walk away to help ground me back into what I know is true outside of us, in the peace only Jesus can provide. I belong to the Almighty, I can trust Him, and He has created me to be a person of peace—at all times and in all places.  

Then I ask myself, “What is my goal in commenting or posting?” If it’s to cause harm and play the blame game, I step away. If it’s to invite people to learn from a different perspective in the hopes of humanizing folks and building bridges, then I share what I have. 

It’s always more about the “why” than the “what” in what I am posting. 

What Would Jesus Say? 

The Bible records 183 questions asked of Jesus during His time on Earth (maybe He was actually asked even more). But He only answered 3 of them directly. The remainder He responded to with stories or follow-up questions. Most of them were an invitation for deeper reflection. In contrast, Jesus himself asked 307 questions throughout the gospels. 

This gives us a glimpse of what Christ-like behavior looks like. Invitation. Seeking. Openness. Questions. It is not the all-knowing position that we are often tempted to adopt. 

In our polarized culture, folks communicate their positions as absolute truth, leaving little to no room for other information. I am guilty of this myself, especially when I feel strongly about a position. 

When I engage with someone with an opposing view, am I leaving room to acknowledge my blind spots? My conscious and unconscious bias? Is there information I hadn’t considered before? Or potentially can multiple things be true at the same time? 

Posture and Perspective 

Here are two stories about one garden: 

In our neighborhood, we have a thriving community garden. Food is grown here. Events are hosted within its boundaries and it is a place for people to gather. One day, a woman came on the garden’s Facebook page to disparage and complain about how messy the lot is, that it is the eye sore of the neighborhood. We have never seen this woman helping or volunteering or joining us at any garden-related event.   

The next weekend, we had kids and families in the garden picking pumpkins, getting candy, and watching movies. People came online to talk about what a resource the garden was for building a stronger neighborhood. Folks began to ask how they could help, if there were supplies we needed, etc. 

One approach to a messy lot tore down folks’ efforts to make it useful.  

The other offered solutions and willingly saw the attempts being made to create a space for flourishing and fun.  

When we interact online, we are faced not just with a choice of what to say, but what is inspiring our words. Emotions help us name our needs as humans, but do we choose to let them rule us or inspire us? To listen to ourselves only or others too? Every opportunity for conversation poses the possibility of division or the potential of invitation, openness, and peace.  

It’s never easy. But today I’m going to work on that posture of peace. And hopefully Jesus will shine through my interactions with others. 

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