Our faith can be radicalized negatively in isolation. We need the iron of another person’s honoring critique to sharpen our thinking to make sure we do not become a religious lone wolf armed with misinformation and a distorted understanding of God’s heart.
Yesterday, a friend sent me an article from The Jerusalem Post written by a rabbi addressing the issue of antisemitism. In the article, the rabbi mentioned something called the “disinhibition effect.” This effect takes place because people can become more hateful when communicating electronically than when face-to-face. Fueling this negative effect is the issue of privacy. People can become more easily radicalized in the privacy of their homes without anyone seeing what is taking place. As a result of losing their inhibition in private, a lone wolf is produced. The deeper the lone wolf deception, the more it creates a feeling of helplessness and the need to blame someone or something for the problems they blindly interpret.
Our faith and our response to the social ills in our culture cannot be interpreted in a healthy and God-honoring way while sitting behind a television or computer screen and being fed information. We need face-to-face encounters with people to remain healthy and have our views challenged if they are developing in an unhealthy way. Lone wolves are dangerous. They will attempt to silence any opposing thought and demand the world submit to their distorted view of reality.
If you have someone in your life with an opposing worldview perhaps the most productive thing you can do is meet for coffee and start a face-to-face dialogue. Have them bring their iron and you bring yours and let the sharpening begin. Listening to someone’s opposing opinion has become a lost art in a social media-driven world where, in our socially insulated lives, we have lost our inhibitions and can too easily fall victim to the response of our flesh, not the Spirit.
“It takes a grinding wheel to sharpen a blade, and so one person sharpens the character of another” (Proverbs 27:17 TPT).