From what I see on social media I am very concerned about conservative Christians. Why? Well, if it is the case that what people post on social media is indicative of what they are feeling and thinking, my friends at least have gone over the edge. Obamacare, SCOTUS and the Iran Deal have taken their toll.
I am also concerned about my social media friends who embrace the progressive view. They perhaps have forgotten reading Animal Farm and Brave New World.
What was true for a few is becoming normal. I realized yesterday that I can no longer post anything to do with politics without collecting comments that are so unpleasant that I, and the ministries I work, with cannot help but be sullied.
So, what should I and people who are experiencing the same thing do? Stop expressing opinions about politics completely? Perhaps. But I would not want to go there. That’s very much like the argument, “That’s letting the terrorists win.”
Of course, we are not talking about terrorists, but the Lizard People.
The Lizard People? Yes, The Lizard People. I was taught about The Lizard when I studied Family Systems. The major thing to know here is stress does something to families and family systems. This includes any grouping of people and churches, which is why I needed to learn it. What does stress do? Well, initially, it makes us stupid. Not everyone. Some people perform well under stress. They can ride it to victory. But too much stress makes any individual reactive. You all know this, and you are also familiar with the term “Fight or Flight.”
Many conservative Christians are choosing to fight it out on social media. Bad move. When the limbic system is in charge and we happen to be on social media, we might very well decide to straighten people out. This is a bad move because that is not what it is for. It’s called “social media” after all. Lizard People are doing what marketing people call “damaging the brand.”
Christians in America today do not need this. Sure, it is nothing new. Hollywood in general has been stereotyping us as mean-spirited hypocrites for quite a while. However, it seems we don’t need Hollywood to do that for us anymore. Why? Because we have Facebook. Judging from my timeline we are not only mean-spirited, we are also foul-mouthed and completely disrespectful of anyone who does not agree with us.
Drop the pundit routine. You are not a politician! I want to bring in an expert here to show you what I mean:
For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. (Mark 7:21-22 ESV)
Yeah. Pretty much nails it. Foolishness. Epidemic rates of foolishness. Conservatives and liberals alike, no one is going to take your opinions – much less your hard-won principles – seriously if you are always on the attack.
Isn’t it rich? Aren’t we a pair? Liberals and conservatives. Send in the clowns? They’re already here.
It really isn’t that hard. One only needs to sober up. Getting drunk on ideology many seem quite intoxicating, but in the end it ends up in addiction and believe it or not the analogy works. One can end up losing their job and family members.
Law and Gospel works for me. If Jesus places slander and foolishness in the same list as sexual immorality and adultery, that gets my attention.
For some reason I keep forgetting that foolishness is a sin. Perhaps I am so prone to it that it is a blind spot!
Maybe we all do. Maybe if we really feel called on to point out error and wrong-doing on social media, we should study our Bible first.
I am certainly not saying that one should not point out error. When we study Scripture we learn that we are to admonish fellow believers as well as build them up. But on Facebook? Really? In an epithet-laced ad hominem? Really?
If one really wants to be effective, try the essay form of writing. Sitting down and trying to collect one’s thoughts while reflecting on some key teachings that guide the way you have learned to live, somehow is much better than firing a salvo from the top of your head. In a time of great foolishness there’s a lot of stuff flying and we are getting hit in the face with it. We need good writers right now.
Why? We are perhaps at the tipping point. I am not one who thinks it is wise to predict the future, but as one who spends a lot of time online managing social media for ministries, I do see trends. One is Christians asking other Christians to be more careful in how they express their beliefs online. Yes, sort of like I am doing here.
Am I evolving? Perhaps, but maybe it is more accurate perhaps to say I am learning from Jesus. The gentle-as-doves and wise-as-serpents, live-by-the-sword, count-the-cost-before-going-to-war Jesus was not entirely a pacifist, and neither did He censor His disciples, but he taught a different way and the Holy Spirit urges us on in a different manner than the worldly one from pundits and news outlets.
So I would want us all to realize that people who are important to us are watching us and listening to us these days. Train up a child in the way he or she should go. Bequeath wisdom, not bitterness. We are in this for the long haul and we need the younger generation. If we become an embarrassment to them, and this is exactly what some forces are attempting, we certainly will diminish. Worse, the younger generation will fall away from the faith completely. Of course, it is not just the younger generation that will drop out, but all who do not want the grief of being part of the marginalized.
Now, more than ever, we shall endeavor to keep our eyes on Jesus. Our good Lord does know exactly what we are going through and He knows where it will end. Rest in Him when anxiety comes. Really.
-Rev. Eric Jonas Swensson