Friday, August 25, 2017

Not The Place

With today's social media, we all have so many outlets to share our opinions...too many outlets. My grandpa always said, "Opinions are like armpits, everyone has them and most of them stink."  While we all have opinions, many that would read this and follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram also have preferences and we all have convictions!  Daily, I find great joy in reading through my friends posts.  I love being challenged by the math questions, finding the hidden objects, laughing at someone falling in a video, and then nearly every time you find it!  What is it that seemingly shows up daily on my "friends" pages?  A controversial statement.  As soon as I read it, my emotions start kicking in, my thoughts start racing, my "wisdom" starts to pour forth, and before you know it, I am typing and correcting the world....well, I used to.   You see, I stopped.

Now, before you start calling me a coward and a compromiser and tearing down statues of me, let me explain.   I will start with a story.  Once upon a time, quite a few years ago now, I was commenting on every one's blogs trying to make my point, I was writing weekly my own blog begging people to comment and challenge me, and I was ready with my 120 words a minute typing skills to correct my brothers and sisters who needed correcting.  There are many illustrations I could point to, but the bottom line is, I was wrong. I was not wrong in my stand, I was not usually wrong in my thinking, and I was about 50/50 on the deep stuff, but I was wrong in trying to correct everyone through social media.

On my Facebook page, I try to pretty much share a good quote every so often, pictures for my family, and brag on my God and the church He allows me to serve in.  Every once in a while, I will share my opinion on something, but you will notice something below those opinions...NO COMMENTS.  There were comments made, but I hide them, because social media is not the place for spiritual debates.

For one, the Lord gave us some simple instructions in Matthew 7:6:
"Give not that which is holy unto dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again to rend you."
My, how this Scripture is applicable!  In case you don't know, Facebook, Twitter, and whatever ".com" you go to, is not Christian.  You may have Christian "Friends", but it's not a Christian setting. When we take matters of spiritual debate to social media to exchange Sword blows, it is ALWAYS rooted in pride.

What ends up happening is described in the above verse.  We take what is precious and let "swine" handle it.  How often are debates "hi-jacked" by some reformed, Calvinist, compromising, antagonist, agnostic, liberal, or worse-a know it all Baptist who then twists, distorts, misinterprets, and abuses Scriptures to make their point?

Who wins these debates?  How often do you ever read the final comment as "well brethren, I am so glad we all could humbly discuss this and all come to the same Scriptural conclusion"?  Normally, we end up with "I'm blocking you," "brother, I appreciate you, but can't agree on this," or the best lets still be friends comment, "I suppose we will agree to disagree."  No one ever wins on social media, except the swine.  There are those who mock the Lord, Christianity, and His Word who watch all of this and laugh.  While a world is supposed to view a John 13:35:
"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
Instead, they see the arguing, tempers, and emotions being shared and are not being drawn to Christ, for sure.  That which is  precious is then trampled under feet with all the "traffic" and the end result is those "turn again to rend you."

Now, don't get me wrong, use every outlet you have to share the Truth.  Matter of fact, share your convictions, your preferences, and even your opinions; just reconsider allowing or participating in a debate on social media.  Remember, it's your page, your tweet, your space (lol) and you can share what you want; just keep in mind others.

I know the Scriptures teach rebuking, correcting, and teaching; but it also is pretty clear when and how to do this. Paul had an issue with Peter and he withstood him to the face. (Gal. 2:11).  In other passages, the rebuking is done either by "going to the brother" or handling it in a church setting.  Going on social media is not "going to a brother."

Here is a novel idea, talk to people.  Go and see them as Paul did and how the Bible instructs. You can visit, call, FaceTime, Skype, email, text, private message (need I go on?), but stop and think before you cast pearls before swine.

Face to face or voice to voice is preferable and most Scriptural.  Why? Because writing keeps a wall up.  When you write (type), you are most often more comfortable in sharing things you would not at first say.  Most of us wrote, "I love you" before we said it to our honey.  We will type things at first, we normally would not say face to face.  Then, emotions get involved. When participating in an online social media debate, you have time to read, get mad, develop your point, and then scathe the other.  Words are much more harsh when hiding behind a keyboard.

I know some are probably still fuming and ready to correct me, but stop and think first.  God gave us a gift to handle spiritual matters and debates, it is called a local church. The church is still the "pillar and ground of Truth." (1 Tim. 3:15)-not social media.  If you have questions, concerns, and disagreements, handle them within your local church.

I know, I know, "Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear." (1 Tim. 5:20).  But those instructions are for a local assembly dealing with corrupt elders.  I hate to bust the bubble of all our "spiritual watchdogs" out there that are caring for all us and warning all of us about all the heathen and heretics and compromisers out there, but...that's why God gave us a local church.  I have no problem warning the flock that God has placed me as the under shepherd of whoever and whatever is wrong out there, but it really isn't my business what other church's are doing.  I think we can trust God to handle His churches.

One last thing to consider is the spiritually weak.  The Bible warns about offending the little ones.  Children, definitely, but also the young in the faith.  As a pastor, I have other pastors and spiritually mature people who are my "friends" on social media; but I also have new converts and lost people who are becoming wise unto salvation.  We have to be careful about hindering the work of God with our words and debates on social media outlets.  They are watching.  Paul gives us a thought on this in 1 Cor. 8:9:
"But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak."

So there you go, something to think on. I will post this, I will share this, but I will not debate this on social media.  Feel free to contact me personally if you like.  May others see Christ in us, the love of God, and read and hear only Truth spoken in that love.

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