For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. – Galatians 5:14-15
I am about to take a break from social media. A brief visit to Facebook used to be a pleasurable time of looking at what friends have been up to, seeing pictures of their cute kids and life milestones, and sending birthday wishes.
But lately what used to be friendly interaction has been sinking into the muck of angry nit-picking, unfounded claims, conspiracy theories, convoluted logic, and rabbit trails leading to unrelated issues, and explosions of unchecked rage. (What’d I say?)
I don’t know about you, but I am getting sick to death of all the attacks, accusations, lies, and threats.
(Wait … that sounds like a list of stuff the devil does …Hmmm … )
What’s really disturbing is the extent to which those identifying as Christians are engaging in this behavior. I’m not sure if they feel they are wielding the Sword of the Spirit in some sort of virtual Crusade, or if they have temporarily forgotten their mission – or taken leave of their senses altogether.
Christians – or as some are calling themselves today, “Christ-followers” have been given a task to do, known as the Great Commission. Jesus’ last words to His disciples before ascending into heaven were:
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” Matthew 28: 19-20
What does it mean to “make disciples”?
I’ll tell you what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean recruiting more people to the political party I deem the most “biblical.” It doesn’t mean winning a battle of words convincing as many people as possible to wear a face mask – or take off the face mask. It doesn’t mean calling out people for inadvertently using words or phrases I consider racist. It isn’t public shaming or virtue signaling.
I’ve never seen effective evangelism achieved with a sword. I have yet to see someone’s mind changed on social media, especially through someone else’s tirade. I’ve never seen someone respond to a well-worded diatribe by crying, “What must I do to be saved?!” I’ve only seen the venom get deadlier as people dig their heels in and the rage escalates.
As I scroll through the communication that fills endless cyberspace, I see most of the Church is NOT going about the business of the Great Commission – the pure mission, not to be watered down or polluted by the politics, he-said-she-said, who’s lying, etc.
How did we get so far off course?
Of course, we have our principles and convictions, and as people with the rare privilege of choosing our own leaders, we have a duty to prayerfully vote on candidates and issues. Just know that any candidate is going to be less than perfect, and that we humans have a way of magnifying the flaws of those we don’t like while getting enraged when others magnify the faults of our candidate. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: if this nation doesn’t return to God, and soon, it won’t matter which sinner is in the White House, we are finished. Someone said years ago that if God didn’t judge America He should apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah. That statement seems truer now than ever. So yes, if a truth needs to be spoken, an injustice pointed out, an honorable act recognized, by all means speak up. But do so prayerfully, and resist the urge to pontificate or get sucked into the combat zone. (And remember to be humble; you could be wrong!)
Know that there are groups and subgroups that want to dictate the opinions of their followers, but don’t drink the Kool-Aid! Our convictions should flow from our relationship with the only One whose opinion matters.
Know that anyone who takes a stand for Christ will be hated by some. I for one just want to make sure when I’m despised it isn’t for being a despicable person, saying and doing despicable things.
If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. I Peter 4:15-16
I’ve noticed a lot of messages these days can be found on yard signs, bumper stickers, T-shirts (a.k.a. “bumper stickers for people”), and even masks. They can be nasty, corny, snarky, or stupid. I have a T-shirt that says, simply, “America needs Jesus.” Period.
God help us.
Prayer: Loving Father, we do not deserve Your favor, and yet You have been so gracious to us, forgiving our sins and adopting us into Your family. We have not always born the family resemblance that would identify us to the world as children of God. Forgive us for the times we have allowed ourselves to be sucked into the world’s strife and hostility and have let our emotions rule us, instead of Your Spirit. Let us not wait for our emotions to confirm the Truth. We know that Your Truth stands on its own and needs no confirmation from anyone. Let us not wait for our emotions motivate us to do right; let us do right, whether we feel like it or not. Help us to live with You as our Sovereign, not our emotions. In the name of Your precious Son Jesus, amen.