Abusive social media

No. Social media is not abusive, nor is it good or neutral. But the way we use it is.

Much has been said about this and should be. Some action has been taken about this at many levels and more needs to be. So here are my thoughts.

Much good is done with social media. We have also been abusive in how we use it. Hate. Prejudice. Cruelty. Feuds. Thoughtless ranting. Rumors and lies. Gossip and maliciousness. These are rampant. This spirit rages on social media. I include blog posting in this group because it is also a platform for self expression.

And here is the thing: these are things that they would not dare to say face to face! They find a false courage in social media. Some might say it is hypocrisy.

Then there is the influence that social media has in the public arena. Yes, I do visit and read sites and pages that do not follow my perspective in order to clarify my understand of their views and help me to clarify my own views. But I do not give attention to those on any side of the arena whose spirit is unhealthy, silly, foolish, and ugly. I do not need nor want to feed on that kind of spirit. Those sites do feed and fuel those who are already bent toward that kind of spirit or perspective. Sadly, such pages are retweeted or reposted by those not analyzing the spirit of the post.

One thing I love and cherish about our country is the constitutional law that protects my freedom and yours to express what we think and feel and believe. The access to public discussion is a powerful platform. I will express what I think and feel and believe. I will promote what I see is right and good and true and against what I see is not so. And I hope you will with your perspective. But, each one of us has the moral and ethical obligation to use that platform in a way that builds and does not tear us down and tear us apart.

Express yourself with the social media platforms. Don’t be a cowardly hypocrite. Speak only what you are willing to say — and in the same spirit you would express– face to face. Speak always with conviction but our manner always be respectful, thoughtful, deliberate, and straightforward.

Two questions we must all ask ourselves. Does the manner — language and spirit — of my expression help you to listen to what I say or turn you off? Does my manner encourage thoughtful discussion among those who already view the matter as I do or only stir up thoughtless reaction.

Think first of the effects of what you want to say and how you want to say it. Speak what you believe is right and good and true. Always speak to build thoughtful conviction and deliberate action. Do not speak to tear apart the public.

Always speak in love — not harm another.

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Harmony

Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

2 Corinthians 13:11 ESV

     The Corinth church was troubled by several issues all at one time.  Some divided them against themselves. All caused much conflict between them. They needed teaching and instruction on what to do. They needed harmony restored before they tore themselves apart.

In fact, Jesus teaches us that there really is no good in attempting to worship God when there is discord between you and another brother or sister. There is no harmony with God without harmony in the church (Matthew 5:21-26). That can be a difficult and hard thing to fix but fix it we must.

     So, Paul gives them some wisdom for this before he closes his letter.  He has addressed the individual problems in both letters.  Now, as though it might be his last words for them, he gives them general guidelines to restore harmony and make peace when problems and conflicts will arise in a church. A peaceful church is not a church without disagreements but a church that keeps its harmony in the midst of disagreement and growth and growing up.

      The key to harmony in your church is God. Does God’s Spirit of love and peace live in your church?   Does your church value the presence and engagement of every member? Does your church live by a forgiving and forbearing heart? 

      How does the church do that?

      Paul gives the answer.  Don’t make disagreements become conflicts. Rejoice that each one is a member of the church. Treat each other the way God treats each one of us: every one of us is as precious to him as each one of us. When there is tension and trouble between brethren, do the necessary work to make things right with one another. God put us all together when each one of us put on Christ and he gave us his Spirit so we can live as one in the harmony of a forgiving and forbearing spirit. One day, I would like to share more with you about the powerful impact and influence that forgiveness and forbearance have in a church. 

     Every church has a choice to make: to love itself or turn against itself and devour itself, to build itself up or to tear itself apart? What kind of spirit lives in your church? What does your church do?  Does it love itself? What are you doing to nurture and nourish and engage that spirit? Does it not love itself? Are you a part of that because you sit back and do nothing? Or are you loving the church? The glory of the church is the glory of God seen in the church. The glory of God lives in the church by the way the church loves itself (Matthew 5:13-16 and John 13:1-35). 

Fulfill my vow

Job 22:27

When God is the pleasure of our lives; when we devote our lives to seek him; when he is the reason we live and get ourselves up every day, then we will know the joy of his fellowship. We will grab hold of the reason we are alive today. We will know that whatever the day brings us it is our heart’s desire to serve God.

Job and his people did not understand why he was suffering. His people were wrong and he simply had no answer. They did not understand that Job was serving God (Job1:8). Do we always understand? However, this is what we can and must understand: whatever the situation or circumstance, whatever the risk or struggle, it is an opportunity to serve God.

Our vow is our decision to follow Christ. We want to do whatever it takes to keep that vow but there are too many days when that is just hard. Our devotion to that commitment is how we live our faith in Christ and love for God. It is our loyalty and heart’s deepest desire. We fight to keep it and we fight to overcome anything that would keep us from it.

So, pray every day that our God will strengthen and guide us to keep our vow. Pray that he will keep us from the things that will would keep us from him (Romans 8:31-39).

Forgiveness

Luke 22:31-32

It is hurtful enough when a loved one or friend mistreats us. It hurts more deeply when someone we love forsakes us and that makes forgiveness more difficult.

Jesus warned all of the apostles that they would forsake him. He warned Judas that he would betray him. But Judas could not handle the guilt of what he had done, even after he had repented, and he killed himself.

Peter’s story has a different ending. When he realized what he had done, he ran away in fear with the shame of what he had done (Luke 22:54-62). He had repented. He was given the opportunity for Jesus to forgive him (John 20-21, Luke 24). Jesus had not only forgiven Peter, he also gave Peter the encouragement he needed to get himself up and get on with what he set out to do, to serve his Lord and Savior. In fact, Christ did keep his promise and gave Peter the keys of the kingdom and never took them away. Peter had gone from devoted, to betrayer, to martyr because God had forgiven him.

Peter needed to know and believe that even when we fail God loves us and wants us to serve him. And so we need to believe that God loves us no matter how we may fail him. The power of love is in its’ capacity to forgive and the power of forgiveness is in its’ capacity to trust again.

Do you need to forgive someone? Do you need to be forgiven? Find your encouragement in the story of Peter and Jesus.

The physics of our words

James 3:1-5

It is a law of human physics. What is done can’t be undone and what we say can’t be unsaid. Once any word escapes our lips it is free to create whatever it has the power to do. It will heal or create havoc. It will lift up or tear down. It will move the soul or kill any human effort. It will bless or ruin. It will encourage others to work or even follow or it will drive them away. It will save or corrupt life.

With that much power in our words, we set out to communicate and engage with others. We must develop the strength and force of our own will to control that tongue – and oh how I struggle with this power. Spouting off at the mouth is one of the most foolish things we do. it is never a good thing. We need to always be aware of the consequences of our words as we do our actions. We need to train our minds to always think first before we say anything.

James tells us need the wisdom of God which is humble and not selfish so it seeks to make peace and to do what is good for the other person (3:13-18).

Jesus teaches us that if we treat others the way we want to be treated we will treat them better. This is includes how we talk to them. He also teaches us that if we seek his glory in what we say and do we will become a blessing to others (Matthew 7:12, 5:13-16).

Living is a challenge everyday. When that challenge is faced, life is blessed, the road made clearer, and we grow some more.

Life is the journey of our challenge. Every journey needs direction and purpose or we are lost in confusion and darkness.

God is the only light for our journey. He is the only direction and purpose for the believer. The Bible and your own life are the lens by which we see the light and understand its meaning.

So, we will use these lens to search for God’s light for our journey and its direction, meaning, and truth for our lives.

Here we go!