Occasionally I will offer some practical guidance as we follow Jesus together. Speaking prophetically is more about speaking truth into the present than it is about predictive prophecy per se, but it carries a predictively consequential element within it.
Social media and the way Christians interact on it continues to concern me deeply - call me Tyrannosaurus Rex. Something as simple as an emoji added to a controversial and / or divisive issue conveys much that might be unintended. Often the best thing to say in a public forum is…nothing. There are no simple answers to complex questions. Think very carefully before engaging complex issues in a forum like Facebook.
All who live in this peculiarly divisive age need to choose for themselves how, or whether they will engage online. My choice is ‘social media light.’ Family, friends, and things that are spiritually uplifting is how I choose to use social media. The space in which complex questions ought to be resolved and discussed should be in forums facilitating mutually respectful dialogue. Adults are meant to resolve conflict and complex situations in adult ways.
The ‘cancel culture’, whereby people block your opinion and disengage you online because you disagree with them, is infantile. Respectful dialogue is the way of following Jesus. Jesus models it clearly…Lk 10:26 ‘What is written in the law, how do you read it?’ I.e., ‘what is your understanding of it?’ A statement like that opens a discussion.
Sadly, the politicians of our day do not, as a generalization, model mutually respectful dialogue, and so people feel free to participate in the childish and divisive communication we see modelled to us by political leaders. Social media is literally filled with passive aggressive content wherein people post vague statements, memes, and quotes that are clearly in reference to others but not communicated directly to those ‘others.’
If I have a problem with someone, or something then I need to try to resolve it with that person face to face. Again, this has biblical precedent. Matthew 18 is very clear about the way in which we are meant to deal with conflict. Possibly the biggest challenge to me in our three years in Canada has been that Canadians tend to be conflict averse. The result is often that there is much talking about people, but when asked to have hard conversations people generally shy away from them.
The culture of the day increasingly pressurizes us to choose sides. Social media – unless very wisely and maturely engaged - is designed to fuel that agenda. A mature approach to conflict resolution requires the adult ability to be able to hold of some form of tension. It is little children who force one another into camps, or to ‘choose sides’ in a black and white way. Adults are meant to be able to hold some tension as they consider all sides of complex issues. Social media comes at us in a way that forces our world into increasingly childish ways. Choose whether you will be a child or an adult.
Increasingly the Church (with a big C) is significantly shaped by the culture of the day, and less shaped by the Christian narrative. Postmodern Christians can usually articulate why they believe what they believe based on cultural assumptions. Ask the same people to articulate their beliefs, based on Scripture and you are usually met with a blank gaze. (This is not a criticism; it is an observation.)
As often as not, postmodern Christians neither know the Scriptures, nor know how to use them in engaging with the culture of the day. The postmodern tendency is to love the Jesus of Scripture, but not to study, or take seriously, the Scriptures that fully reveal the same Jesus whom they love.
The ways in which this generation chooses to engage one another on complex issues will shape the culture and the church that our children will inherit. Seek the wisdom of the Spirit of God before engaging with people whose opinions are different from yours. Then determine the forum in which that engagement will take place. I assure you; it will not be Facebook if you are honestly serious about relationship with people.
I am convinced that the God we worship is more concerned about the condition of our hearts toward one another than most issues of the day that are up for debate. If you are in any doubt about this, do yourself the favour of checking out the ‘each other’ / ‘one another’ statements in the epistles.
TBC on Sunday 22 August.
Gal 4:19, 20 ‘My dear little children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!’
Grace & peace