The Biblical Formula for Influence
Matt Brown’s Truth Plus Love is a helpful guide for effective Christian witness
In the Church’s first few centuries of existence, Christians spread the gospel by means of Roman roads. Today, the internet and social media are Roman-road equivalents, giving Christians the ability to share the gospel farther and faster than at any time in history. Unfortunately, a lot of Christians — especially, though not exclusively, in America — are blowing it.
Take a look at your Christian friends’ social media posts, if you doubt me. Many use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like innocuously enough as platforms for sharing grandkid pics or corny jokes. To the extent that they use them to make arguments for religion, culture and politics, however, far too often their social media feeds are angry, dismissive, stereotypical and filled with “fake news.”
Looking at numerous online controversies, my wife likes to say, “Nobody ever wins an argument on Facebook.” She usually says that to tell me to knock it off. My own social media feeds, it turns out, often fail miserably at being a wholesome Christian influence on others.
Speaking the truth in love is a Christian imperative, but it’s also a universal need and a contributor to the common good.
In Truth Plus Love, Matt Brown identifies the biblical formula for influencing others: “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). He uses quasi-mathematical formulae to quickly communicate the gist of his book:
- Truth – Love = Noise
- Love – Truth = Error
- Truth + Love = Influence
No matter what your religious convictions are, you should be able to see the aptness of these formulations. Speaking the truth in love is a Christian imperative, but it’s also a universal need and a contributor to the common good.
We all know what truth is, but we sometimes get confused by love. Love isn’t just ooey-gooey sentimentalism. It’s the multidimensional fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), so it incorporates joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control too.
Speaking of self-control, Brown offers a useful acronym about how to T-H-I-N-K before we speak: Is this true, honorable, important, necessary, kind? My guess is that Christian social media influence would increase just by answering that question before posting anything.
Truth Plus Love is an easy-to-read book, written for a popular audience. Brown has an easy way with words, tells memorable stories, and formulates his advice in a memorable, simple way. If you’re a Christian looking to influence others toward Christ, whether online or off, this little book is a helpful guide.
Matt Brown, Truth Plus Love: The Jesus Way to Influence (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2019).