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Friday: Further Thought ~ Christ-Shaped Lives and Spirit-Inspired Speech — 10 Comments

  1. I apologise in advance for the length of this comment, but I thought it would be appropriate to make a practical application of our lesson discussion to our interaction on Social Media such as Facebook, Tictok, and so on.
    We live in a digital world where the horizon of our verbal interaction has extended enormously. We interact with people we don’t know and cannot see. Anyone who has the slightest inkling of what goes on in Facebook knows how easily a simple thing can trigger off an avalanche of vitriolic comments. Our town has a community Facebook page, and because there is a fairly large population of Seventh-day Adventists in the area, any perceived wrong action by Seventh-day Adventists creates a string of hate comments. And some Seventh-day Adventists weigh into it with defensive statements that trigger further comments and so the chain reaction goes. How should we react in such an environment? Should we even be in that environment?

    I am reminded of Jesus' response during the sham trials leading to his crucifixion.

    And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? Matt 26:62 KJV

    For most of his trial, Jesus had nothing to say.

    I have had a fair bit to do with social media studying its use and doing research on community interaction (particularly around charitable organisations – ADRA and World Vision) There were a couple of case studies available not too long after Facebook became popular that were widely used to illustrate how to interact (or not) on social media and perhaps we can learn something from them.

    Coca-Cola had a Facebook page at the time of this study and people started to criticise the company for its manufacture of “Spring Water”. The Face Book commenters made highly critical comments about the fact that their “Spring Water” was manufactured from town supply water. Coca-Cola made one statement stating that their “Spring Water” was manufactured to have the same chemical composition of the named spring. The explanation was a couple of paragraphs long. That was the only statement they made and after that, the critical comments quickly subsided.

    Around the same time, Nestle had a problem with its Facebook commenters about the composition of their baby milk formula. They started answering back to the commenters with the conversation becoming more antagonistic with each exchange. Eventually Nestle, in frustration, locked the commenters out from commenting on the page. The commenters then set up a faux-Nestle page and continued their criticism for a long time.

    This illustration is not about the products, but it illustrates that in the Social Media environment, often, the less said the better.

    I had a personal experience with Facebook vilification. I came across a professional child photographer photographing a client in a nature reserve where Emu-wrens nested. I told the lady that this was a nature reserve and that she should not be stomping all over the little birds and their nests. She became quite aggressive and ended up telling me to “b**** off!”. She found out who I was and took the opportunity to write a vitriolic comment on the community Facebook page about how I had abused her in the bush in front of her client. I wrote a rather terse comment in reply and was about to click on the send button, when my brain kicked into action and I thought, “Maurice, you know better than that! Don’t answer her!” I admit that my finger ached to click on the send button, but my brain won the battle and I ignored her. I looked at her comment a month later and noted that she had one “like” for her comment.

    Social media is a whole new ball game of communication and can sometimes be like a snake pit. It is a place where kindness, tolerance, and understanding are often in short supply. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus invited us to be like salt, adding flavour to food, and to be a light set on a hill. And it a somewhat antagonistic environment like social media, there is a serious need for:

    Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Eph 4:31,32 KJV

    Paul had a good idea about what was really needed in the social media space.

    • "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.", King Jesus Christ in Matthew 10:16.

      Like a snake uses its judgement to determine when to fight or when to take flight, we have to be guided by the Holy Spirit to do so as well; BUT always in a peace-seeking and loving manner like a dove.

  2. Communication! What a challenge! A simple message can cause different reactions depending on the recipient's mind. I may be trying to communicate love while the recipient sees this as an offense. The best marketing is connected to emotional appeals because "the mouth communicates what the heart is full of."

  3. I have found that in communication, less is better.

    My mantra these days is grounded in St Matthew 5:37:

    "But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay:
    for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil."

    My prayer is that God will rule over our tongues, that whatever proceeds for them are seasoned with the grace of God!!!

  4. How to recieve the latter rain.
    1. We live positively within our local church, with positive support.

    2. We become doers of Paul's admonitions, rather than sayers, of thus saith.

    3. Our opinions
    and recommendations will be offered with Christ filled tongue. When commending a beliver, we do it with all sincerity. When pointing out faults, we do it in private, without blabbling what we did.

    4. We live like we are a real Christian, joyfully and with peace with ourselves, and our fellow believers, so the world can see Christ in us, anticipating Christ return with hope and patience.

  5. When we read the bible we see that Jesus did not always speak kind words. Some of his words could be looked at as being insulting. For example, calling the leaders of the church hypocrites, dead-men bones, whiten on the outside but rotten on the inside, a den of thieves, etc., cannot be conceived as kind words. Jesus even spoke in a not so nice manner to the disciples on some occasions, for example, when he called Peter a devil (get thee behind me satan...). Also, Jesus did not keep silent when he saw what he perceived as wrong doing. Jesus kept silent instead of speaking to defend himself against false accusations. However, Jesus did not use this approach in all situations of wrong doing. He did not use harsh words when he spoke to the woman caught in the act of adultery. So what is happening here? The important point is our motive for doing the things that we do. "In all thy ways acknowledge him and he will direct thy path." My prayer is for the Holy Spirit to take control of my life so that he will be in constant control of my doings, and that he will use me to bring glory to him in all aspects of my life.

    • This is certainly true and there is a time for rebuke, but I think we have to be really careful when we use these examples to justify our own unkind words. First of all, we aren't Jesus, and though His mission and ours do merge, there were things He did and said that only He could do and say since He is God. We also have limited record of the tone that Jesus used when He spoke which makes a difference. Finally, Jesus always spoke redemptively and His harsh words were never for the sake of having harsh words, but used when nothing else would make an impression.

  6. “If you have love in your heart” …… ! Everything we know about Jesus Christ is clearly meant for us to grow in our ability to love God the Father and our fellow man - may they be members of the same church family or strangers. The whole of the Gospel message is about how to express one's love for each other instead of being callous and indifferent.

    It is incomprehensible to me that a Christian can willfully engage in hurtful, inconsiderate conduct. Is it possible that a believer confesses the name of Jesus Christ as Savior, but lacks the desire to apply His truths in day to day engagements with others? The list of ‘infringements’ against the Spirit of Love is endless, though it most likely starts from a still unwilling to change, stony and callous heart.

    I am certain this is why we are admonished to strife to first love God with all our heart. Making this desire of our heart gives the Holy Spirit 'unhindered by the old nature' access to guide us in how best to engage lovingly and caringly with our love our fellow man. Could one then say that if we do not love God we cannot adequately love our fellow man? 1 John 4:7

    A believer, employing any amount of introspection, is enabled to identify their own motives when expressing themselves in word and deed toward others. Recognizing that God knows their heart - what they are like on the inside -, better than they know themselves, would this believer not want to share the best and most sweetest fruits of the Spirit with his fellow man? Luke 6:43-45; Luke 7:21-23.

    • 1John 4:8 was the first verse that I ever received from God straight out of my first bible on the 5th of June 2013:
      "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."


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