I woke up this morning at 5:30am without an alarm. It is a Sunday morning. The one morning all week that I can sleep in. The rich blessing of having church on a Saturday night is that Sunday morning is my time of R&R. But not today. Rather than getting irritated at myself for waking up so early, however, I felt an anticipation of getting up and enjoying the early morning hours uninterrupted by children, work, or any other unfolding drama surrounding my life. It has been literally a full week since I have been able to find solace. For those without much responsibility or children or demands, you may not understand the sheer joy of solace. I haven’t always been so exultant. When I was younger, I thought it was crazy to crave quiet space. Now, as a mother, I get it. I understand why my own mother had moments where she wanted to be by herself, away from all the demands.
My thoughts this morning are centered around a post I saw on Facebook by Bill Johnson and how I felt reading the comments. Typically, anything he puts up is completely embraced by me. This morning, however, it took me some time to process what I actually thought about the current event he shared. I was also very disturbed by the way many Christians were responding to the post. Although I don’t really want to focus on the post itself or my response, I did put my response below at the bottom of the page for anyone interested in reading it. The reason I bring up the post is because as followers of Jesus and His Kingdom I think it is important to know how to respond to current events and controversial things posted on Facebook (or talked about in person for that matter.) So, let’s look at five ways I see Christians responding to posts that offend or promote their beliefs. Four of them are not healthy ways of response, the fifth addresses the way Jesus would have us respond.
- Responding in offense/anger/irritation to a post. In Psalms and Proverbs there is some good advice about this. Psalm 37:8 “Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.” Proverbs 14:29 “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.” Proverbs 19:11 “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” When we choose to respond in anger or be offended, we actually hurt God’s reputation. Also, James 1:19 encourages us in this as well: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
- Responding from a place of deception, which comes often because of accepting sin or refusing to repent from sin that now blocks their ability to see or believe truth. Romans 1:21 says, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Sometimes people post things and I wonder how they can even profess Christ and think that what they are saying lines up with the Bible. However, they truly believe they are hearing from God. How can we recognize these posts as a believer? There are three ways I know to do this:
- Discern the spirit of what is said through the Spirit of God living in us.
- Check the post and see if what they say lines up with the principles laid out in Scripture.
- Ask God to remove any blindness/deafness from our spiritual eyes/ears and cleanse us from all unrighteousness so we can see/hear clearly.Responding from a lack of knowledge. There are two passages in Scripture that are powerful descriptions of what happens when we have no knowledge (understanding) of what God is doing and we reject it. I see people posting without understanding and in doing so, they are actually rejecting the very thing that God is working in, often because it is uncomfortable or doesn’t fit in their grid of understanding. Funny how we think we should be able to help God understand us, rather than go to Him for understanding!
- Responding from a lack of knowledge. There are two passages in Scripture that are powerful descriptions of what happens when we have no knowledge (understanding) of what God is doing and we reject it. I see people posting without understanding and in doing so, they are actually rejecting the very thing that God is working in, often because it is uncomfortable or doesn’t fit in their grid of understanding. Funny how we think we should be able to help God understand us, rather than go to Him for understanding!
“Woe to those who rise early in the morning,
that they may run after strong drink,
who tarry late into the evening
as wine inflames them!
12 They have lyre and harp,
tambourine and flute and wine at their feasts,
but they do not regard the deeds of the Lord,
or see the work of his hands.
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;
because you have rejected knowledge,
I reject you from being a priest to me.
And since you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children.” (Hosea 4:6)
- Responding to a post just to argue and cause strife. This one is probably my biggest pet peeves. I am all about standing up for truth, believe me! However, arguing does not do much good for anyone, especially arguing for arguing’ sake just to prove you are right! Please just refrain from commenting if you are doing it to argue. Philippians 2:14 says, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.”
- Responding in Christ’s love and truth and grace! This, obviously, is the way that we should always respond when we post, or for that matter, when we speak. Somehow, it seems easier on Facebook to say things that hurt, but our words on Facebook matter as much as our words when we speak. Ephesians 4:15 instructs us “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.“ I Peter 1:22 says, “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.” We cannot be Jesus to people if we don’t stand for truth, and we cannot be Jesus to people if we don’t respond in love.
Back to the post I mentioned earlier. Although it was a strong opinion coming forth in the status, I felt that it was a post that brought awareness to some things that we may not have heard or known otherwise about President Obama’s take on the Islam agenda. The way I look at it is when we hear or see a post like that, it is then up to us to do research and understand the situation more fully. Normally, people want to take sides and go to war which is what we see with the comments below this post of Bill Johnson’s. There are Christians on both sides and even those who say “Peace” but really there is no peace. Reading through the comments you will pretty much find posts of all five types.
I am not blogging today to promote a particular agenda or to take a particular side. I am not blogging about whether to agree or disagree with Bill Johnson’s post. I am blogging because I want us all to think a little more carefully about how we reply to heated situations. We need to stand for truth and be bold. However, I am reminded of the verse in Matthew 10:16, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” We need to preserve our innocence and yet be wise in our answers. We need to step away from foolish arguments. We need to love unconditionally, even when our own status is being attacked. We need to be teachable and realize that our opinions and thoughts could be just that, opinions and thoughts. And we are fallible. There may be something in a situation that we did not see or observe at the beginning. We need to be willing to change when we are wrong, but stand true when we are right. We don’t need to defend the truth or preserve our dignity. The TRUTH defends itself! And when did Jesus preserve His dignity for us? He was nailed to a cross as the worst of all sinners, when in Truth He was PERFECT in all He did!
Picture credits “Social Media” by jscreations, “Alarm Clock Time” by mapichai, “Conflict” by bplanet, “Allied Enemy Signpost Displays Friend or Foe” by Stuart Miles, “Truth Definition Portrays True Honesty or Voracity” by Stuart Miles, “Agree Disagree Post-it Papers Showing Supporting or Contrary To” by Stuart Miles, “I am Angry” by jessadaphorn
NOTE: for those interested in my response to the status above, here it is:
“Although I may not agree with every single word or statement in this status, I am thankful for being informed at what happened. How many of you commenting knew about what happened before reading this post? Sure it has an opinionated take, but every one commenting also has an opinion. I appreciate learning and being informed about things that are happening that could impact Christians in a negative light and increase persecution, and the President’s statement whether true or not does put Christianity in a negative light. Also, Islam is not the same thing as the Muslim people and we have to separate out that when we talk about Islam. Islam is a religion. When Islam is exposed, it is not oppressing a people group, it is disagreeing with an oppressive and abusive religion. Muslims are the people group and they need to be aided and loved just like any other people group!
Although I don’t agree 100% with the content of this post, I appreciate the knowledge it brought to me about some crucial things and I am saddened by the stand our President continues to take.“