Christians On Social Media


Peter said, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense [apologia; apologetics] to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15)

This is the tenor and main point of the article, CHRISTIANS ARGUING WITH CHRISTIANS ON SOCIAL MEDIA: A REAL INTEREST IN THE SALVATION OF THE LOST?….

I encourage you to read it. I put it here that people would read it, and that I would be reminded of it and read it again myself.

It’s far too easy to say things on social media that we wouldn’t think of saying face to face with someone in conversation. If we are not responding to people with gentleness and respect, as Peter urges us, we are not responding in love. We might as well not respond at all.

I think that stopping to consider whether we would say something face to face that we are about to say on social media is a good litmus test. We live in a reactionary world, and social media exasperates the problem by giving us the instant gratification of an immediate response for every thought the crosses our minds.

We need to be more self controlled than that. We need to be more self-sacrificial,  sacrificing that desire for the immediate gratification for the good of the Gospel. We can pick up our crosses and follow Jesus in this social media age by dying to that desire for the instant response.

We need to be salt and light. Salt accentuates the taste of food, but it does that subtly. Too much salt overwhelms and destroys the flavor of the food. Just the right amount accents and brings out the flavor. People are much more apt to take notice of what we say and take it to heart if we say it with gentleness and respect, as Peter admonishes us.

Light illuminates. Too often we demonstrate a great deal of heat without a great deal of light. It isn’t our job to convict people of their sin or even to convince them of the rightness of our positions. The Holy Spirit is well-equipped to do the convicting in peoples’ hearts. We just need to be faithful to speak the truth, but do it in love – always in love.

God’s word does not go out and come back void, but our idea of how people should respond and what it means that God’s word does not come back void may not be accurate.

When Isaiah was given the commission to speak God’s word to the people in the Temple, he was told that he would speak, but people wouldn’t listen. It wasn’t Isaiah’s responsibility to make sure they listened. It was his responsibility simply to speak and to let God do His work. If nobody listened, still Isaiah was being faithful in what God called him to do.

Are we always speaking God’s word? We are finite beings. We might not always have it right. We should have the humility to realize that.

Our love for other people, on the other hand, is always “true”. How we treat people will always shine through and have an impact. Our greatest apologetic is the love of God. Love covers a multitude of sins.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

 

Truth in Love

Truth in love pulls people up on to safe ground, but truth without love pushes people off the ledge.


“Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Romans 13:10 ESV

This little tidbit from Paul’s letter to the Romans packs so much into it. God gave Moses 10 commandments, and law followed after law until there were over 600 different laws for the people to follow. Jesus summarized everything in two statements: love God and love your neighbor.

Paul echoes those words of Jesus in Romans when he says” love is the fulfilling of the law” and equating love with doing no wrong to a neighbor. (Mark 12:30-31)

As I read Romans 13:10 this morning, I think about our Christian tendency to preach to the world about sin, a world that does not know God and has not accepted Him. I have heard Christians use the excuse that they are standing up for truth because Jesus says, “Whoever denies me before men, I will deny before My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33) Paul told the Ephesians to “speak the truth in love.” (Eph. 4:15) Only Paul was writing to the believers in Ephesus, and he was talking about quipping the believers in the church in ministry and building up the body of Christ.

This is significant because, when we think of truth, judgment is not standing far off. Paul is talking to the church in his letters and instructing believers. Paul says, “What business of mine is it to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13) (The context is a man in the church who was acting immorally.)

The audience of Paul’s statement about speaking the truth in love seems significant this morning as I am thinking about all the times I have seen Christians blast their neighbors with “truth” on social media with not a lot of love. Social media isn’t like a sniper rifle; it’s like a shotgun. Anyone in front of the blast feels the sting – believers and non-believers alike.

Of course, what of the unbelievers who potentially face judgment for denying God? Do we have a heart for them? Do we care enough to get to know them and establish a relationship with them? When we speak the truth to them, are we speaking in love?

It seems to me that we often emphasize truth over love, and the result is that we tend to speak only the truth. We might as well not say anything at all. I’m afraid we often do more damage than good when we do that.

Continue reading “Truth in Love”

Should Google Censure the News?

Perspective

Some of the backlash following the surprise results of the recent presidential election is the focus on the bogus news sites that were ubiquitous on social media during the dreadfully long campaign season. I’ve witnessed many conversations and multiple, people of good faith ask: how do we know when a news source is biased?

The latest thing on social media is the creation of lists of fake news sites for people to avoid. Everyone seems to be eager to jump in as a consultant. LA Times,[1] AOL News,[2] US News & World Report,[3] Snopes,[4] of course, and many, many others. The problem is compounded when the people reporting the list of fake news sites are charged with being misleading.[5]

Even the answer to the question of what news sites to avoid depends on who is answering the question. According to Scott Shackford of, Editor of…

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Pausing the Reality Show

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I stumbled upon on Seth Godin’s blog today. Reality is not a show. He blames what he calls the “punditocracy” for turning life into a game and issues into drama “with winners and losers, villains and heroes and most of all, black and white issues” for their own profit.

From politics to natural disasters and even things like poverty and technology, everything is presented or spun into an “us and against them” reality show, suggests Godin.

Polarization is big business. Rush Limbaugh, Hannity and others on both sides of the ideological divide are pundit business machines. Certainly the liberal gamesters have been a little slower to capitalize on the opportunities that black and white buffoonery provides, but they are coming around. It seems we are becoming more polarized as a society, if politics is any indicator. Has the aisle between the two political parties ever been wider?

At the same time, we do not seem to need much political urging or pontifical force to line up like solders on one side or the other on the issues of the day. The Treyvon Martin case is a prime example. The ink was not dry on the presses when people began to convict or exonerate George Zimmerman in a flood of pontification. Social media allows us to declare our stances almost instantaneously on any issue, national or local. Innocent until proven guilty lost this game, as it usually seems to do in these dramas. Letting the wheels of justice do their things does not seem to fit comfortably into our thought processes.

Android phones must be better than iPhones, or iPhones must be better than Android phones. We do not seem to tolerate uncertainty or inbetweens. Why is that?

Ironically, we hold up tolerance as the ideal to which polite and learned people aspire (or at least that is the standard that we demand of those who disagree with us).

I wonder if we have lost the ability to concentrate on anything long enough to reserve judgment.

I remember watching MTV when it was still Music Television and feeling perplexed by the rapidly changing images in every music video. I could not latch on to anything. It moved too fast. Those music videos of the ’90’s seemed to be a reflection of the way society was going at the time, and continues to go. I am not sure that is the way we want it. Or is that just the way “the media” wants to package it to us? Politicians give us “sound bites” and phrases. Social media allows us to communicate in snippets with Twitter as the extreme example. Email has replaced letters, and texting is preferred to email. Each evolution in technology is tending toward shorter, more truncated, communication.

I think these things are related to the polarization of our society. We are somewhat like lemmings in this reality show life (not that lemmings are anything like what we have been told). We do not want to dwell for long in between; we want to rush to our destination, decision, judgment, adulthood. Maybe that is a reaction to the speed at which information and life comes at us. Maybe it is because we have lost the ability to focus and to hold things in tension.

We act as if each of us is the captain of our own certainty, and we dare not lose grasp of it. In our lives today, every silence is filled with sound, every pause is a transition, every moment is filled with activity. We must latch onto judgment lest we be carried away and lost in the dizzy array of thoughts, images and information whizzing past us like the strobe light scenes of an MTV video.

In this tendency to gravitate quickly to the poles, we lose compassion, understanding and relation. We are drawn into the game and lose the nuance of real-life difficult decisions. In Seth Godin’s words, we “turn pathos into ratings” and make just about everyone “the other”. I am afraid in this process we are losing the sticky interconnectedness that binds us all together in this journey called life. Seth suggests that Facebook “likes” should be replaced with hugs – a little human relation to bridge our different perceptions and viewpoints.

In reality, we are all winners and losers, good guys and bad guys. People are complex. We are not easily reducible to a black/white images. We do ourselves, our neighbors and our world an injustice when we rush to conclusions and judgments. We need space in our existence. We need stillness in our lives. We need to let things percolate in the inbetweens.