In what is now the new norm for communication, social media, it seems that every day there is an opportunity to engage with or against those we are connected to through this medium. And honestly you don’t even have to be connected to them to read and respond to what people think, feel and want to say. But with all this accessibility comes responsibility, especially for those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ. While we may hold tightly to possession of “our” Facebook wall, the irony of it is that we relinquish possession in some sense by giving mass access to it, thereby making us accountable to all those who see it in the manner in which we conduct ourselves when posting on it.
I am one who reads a lot and tries to stay informed in the hope of having a more balanced view of our world and the people in it! I like to be in the know! But after the recent weeks of emotionally charged issues, my spirit was crying “I need a cultural detox!” Anyone else feel that way? I honestly wanted to hole up in my house and purge and cleanse with the Word of God! While that is a necessary thing, we can’t stay “holed up” in our homes or we are not a light set on a hill but rather hidden under a bushel basket.
So how can we navigate the turbulent waters of our cultural, political and religious times, baring our thoughts and feelings through social media while remaining Kingdom focused, above reproach and gracious? I have been reminded of a few things from God’s word that I would like to share with you.
1) “Set your mind on things above, not on the things that are on earth.” Col 3:2 This passage is not about living in a fog and not engaging in the world at all, but rather about remembering who we are in Christ and letting our conduct reflect that knowledge. The passage seeks to address our perspective, and perspective is everything sometimes! The Kingdom of Christ, which is the kingdom we are citizens of, is not the kingdom of the world. Our role in the world is to bear witness to a different kind of kingdom, one in which battles are not won by being emotionally charged but rather by being spiritually strengthened. Emotion is not an effective tool to fight battles, in our culture or in our personal lives. Keep a Kingdom perspective!
2) “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Cor 10:3-5. What we are reminded of is that we are flesh, therefore emotions, anger, frustration will rise up in us but those are not our weapons! We are divinely empowered against those things that are raised up against the knowledge of God! But we have a responsibility in this, we must have the knowledge of God in order to know when something is raised up against Him and His character, His will, His statutes; and our first response is to take our thoughts captive to obedience! This is a test that I am constantly challenging myself with: before I respond or react have I taken my thoughts captive to what I know of God?
3) “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Phil 2:3,4. Well here is where the rubber meets the road, huh? Selfishness; I think it’s accurate to say we all struggle with the ol’ “self” issue! And then there is that mention of humility! God sure loves that word, doesn’t He? However lest we forget, this passage precedes the great “kenosis” (Greek for “emptying”) passage in which we are told of the Divine humiliation on our behalf! God and His Son thinking of us! Therefore keeping that ever before us will help us to maintain humility of mind, and think of others above ourselves. Notice the instruction is not to avoid looking after personal interests, but in looking after our own interests consider others and their interests first. I don’t believe God denies us the liberty to utilize our strengths and gifts in responding to issues, people and circumstances. But we have to allow discernment to have its place, and we are, without exception to be respectful and consider how our response may affect others!
4) “Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols.” Acts 17:16 This is such a great example of the Apostle Paul feeling much like we do today in our culture and yet engaging them with respect and the authority of God’s Word. I might suggest that you read Acts 17:16-34 . It’s good to be reminded that “there is nothing new under the sun” and that “He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness”. May we be resolute, but with the grace appropriate for the Kingdom that we belong to, and the King that we serve!