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And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. -- Matthew 9: 35-36 (ESV)
Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have brought both blessings and hindrances into our lives. It is a fantastic way to stay in touch with people who do not live near you and to spread the love of Christ to those in faraway places as well as close to home. It has also led to a devolving of our personal relationships, a decrease in the proper social skills involved with interpersonal interactions and a coarsening of our culture in terms of how we relate to one another. We have all seen it far too often beloved. Someone makes a post, sends a tweet, or posts a meme and it seems that World War III is about to break out. To make matters worse the Internet age has crippled self-research to the point of a Google search replacing doing the work of a Berean or actually reading Scripture. Today I want to briefly discuss how we are supposed to interact with each other and the world in regard to these issues because it is become increasingly obvious that Christians lose their collective minds just as fast as the world and it should not be so. There are three groups of people to consider within this discussion, all of which may be witness to your social media interactions. The first group of people are our brothers and sisters in Christ:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." -- John 13: 34-35 (ESV)
We have all seen this verse thrown around casually to imply how we are to treat everybody but the verses are pretty clear that this is how we are supposed to treat each other within the body of Christ. We are supposed to show deference, compassion, tolerance and love. Even more than we might our biological families. When Jesus' family was waiting to see him and He was informed He responded who is my Mother and Brother except he who does the will of my Father. I know that this is often times not easy. People in the church will act in ways that make you want to scream but screaming is not how they will know us beloved. We must remember also that not everyone is at the level that we might be at. Some people might actually know more than us. We should never think we have arrived to the point that we cannot be corrected. People ask me all the time how I would feel if someone criticized what I wrote and my answer is always that I welcome it -- especially if I am wrong! It is not about me beloved. It is not about you. If I am writing what I believe God has said in Scripture and I am wrong of course I want to know! There are plenty of people I listen to intently regarding matters I may not be well versed on. As there will be people who know more than us there are also many who will know less than us. People who may need some hand holding. The shepherd is armed with a rod for beating away wolves and a staff for directing sheep, who are notorious for wandering off. There is a reason why Jesus uses this imagery!
I see Christians often treating other Christians badly because they are wandering off. They fall under a false teaching and they are dismissed out of hand as "should have known better" "well it's their own fault." Yet look at the key verses today to see what Christ-like compassion should look like. Jesus understood that sheep are helpless. We must understand that and the fact that they are often harassed. You cannot walk a foot in modern American Christendom without being harassed by false teaching. It is on every television station that purports to be Christian. What percentage of churches run on the purpose driven model today; 80-90%? Then there is the onslaught of "Christian" books, movies, and music, the vast majority of which are not biblical at all. Is it any wonder that they are harassed and helpless? Jesus cuts to the heart of the matter though doesn't He? They are like sheep without a shepherd. Yes! That is exactly what they are! The purpose driven church models tell pastors that they should not consider themselves shepherds anymore but vision casting CEO's instead. Mega-heretic Andy Stanley said the term should not even be used anymore in the church! If sheep start wandering off the purpose driven pasture Rick Warren teaches pastors to help them leave. He calls it blessed subtraction. Today's pastor is not a shepherd. He no longer carries the staff because the sheep that do not follow tightly after him are encouraged to wander away. He no longer carries a rod because he is the wolf.
Yet assuming salvation is genuine, these are our brothers and sisters. They are being mangled and devoured by wolves every single day within the walls of the church. We are supposed to love them, not berate them for foolish choices they may make or false teachers they may follow. We use the Bible to show what is false and let the Holy Spirit do the corrective work and conviction. Our job is to love them and the reason Jesus gives is so the unbelievers will be able to tell we are believers! That brings us to group number two -- the lost. It seems sometimes as if we simply forget that social media is a virtual reality. I have 700 "friends" on Facebook (and like five in real life, lol). This is because many follow the ministry work and writing. So when I go on Facebook and type anything, I have to remind myself that it is like standing in front of all 700 people and saying it into a microphone. I will admit that I fail sometimes as we all do. I posted a meme last week that I thought was funny but many did not. When I saw the unfolding drama contained in 100 responses, I deleted the post. My brothers and sister mean more to me than a meme or my perceived "rights" to have posted it on "my wall." You ever have a brother or sister throw that one at you? That it is their wall so they will do what they want? Beloved let me offer up very humbly that it is not your wall. It is Christ's wall. Once you claim to be His you become an ambassador for Him. That is what the Bible says. Now, this does not mean we have to put up with nonsense. It just means that we have to think outside our little selves when we claim to represent Jesus Christ. Beloved, unbelievers are watching for a reason to believe or not believe. What do we show them?
Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. -- Colossians 4: 5-6 (NKJV)
To redeem means to buy back. Jesus redeemed us and bought us back from the devil with His blood spilled on Calvary. What these Colossians verses remind us of is that the clock is ticking. There is only so much time left between now and when Jesus returns. We must be in the business of redeeming that time beloved for those who are still on the outside of salvation looking in. I have seen believers absolutely mock unbelievers in comment threads on Christian articles. John Hagee once famously preached that if you were an atheist who didn't like to say Merry Christmas you should "get out of my country!" These are very strange evangelism techniques beloved! Look how we are to deal with them though beloved. We are to walk in wisdom. We are to speak with grace, season it with salt, and know how to answer all. Does that describe your experience of seeing Christians interact with the world? I see one swath of believers who blame the unsaved for everything wrong in their lives and this world. I see another swath that spends so much time trying to seem cool to them that they never bring the actual Gospel. I see people on social media absolutely trash them or throw Bible verses at them even though the things of God are foolishness to them. We are supposed to be very wise when dealing with the unsaved and that is even more true on social media where we simply do not know how many people are actually watching and reading what we have to say. The Bible says we are either gathering people to Christ or scattering them away. There is no third choice. There is however a third group to consider today: