|Volume 19 Number 12 December 2017||
David R. Kenney
For some time, I have heard advertisements for online reputation monitoring services. In fact, I was once invited to join a job search or networking service trying to differentiate itself with “online reputation tracking.” I wonder if we have given any thought about monitoring our online reputation as Christians.
Social media is like any new mode of communication in that it is what we make it to be. Regardless of whether or not you are online via social media or not, we all have a responsibility to manage our reputations! What we say, do or post online reveals something about our characters and reputations. Human resources literature abounds with warnings to be careful what one reveals about oneself online as it may hurt the reputation of the company for which one works, or it may severely impact the success of one’s new job search. One wonders if Christians have given any thought about their online reputations in regards to their membership in the Lord’s church and loyalty to the Lord.
Some time ago, I posted this comment on Facebook: “One wonders since employers monitor employees’ Facebook accounts if elders are monitoring the sheep’s Facebook accounts? Any thoughts?” That generated all types of responses, including some strongly stating such was entirely unethical and even downright immoral. Yet, one wonders about such thoughts since, after all, the person posted the material to be seen in the first place! I find it ironic that some were highly offended at the thought, which makes one wonder exactly what they are posting that might lead to offense. After all, they posted it!
Elders, as shepherds, have the responsibility of watching over the sheep. Let me give you an example. I have been invited to join various Facebook groups with names such as “Gospel Preachers” or “Church of Christ.” There are several of them—some good and some not so good. After some discussions with those professing to be Gospel preachers on some of these groups, I came to the quick realization that one can easily disguise oneself as a wolf among the sheep online, but their agendas quickly surface to those who know the agenda. Sadly, some are fooled by such.
Based on this experience and seeing people’s faith potentially impacted negatively, I posted the following, which I would like to share with others here.
We have known for years that just because a building says “Church of Christ” on the outside that the contents may not match. The same is true of Facebook Groups. Parents, you need to warn your children about wolves in Facebook groups including ones with the name “Church of Christ.” There is no “doctrinal evaluation process” for these groups. I have had some very pointed discussions and debates with some among those groups who are not of the restoration plea and reject the New Testament pattern. Elders and preachers, you would do well to advise your membership as well. We need to make sure a new generation and the next generation are taught principles of sound Bible interpretation, ascertaining Bible authority and other fundamental matters. They need to be taught how to answer false doctrines and to refute those points that seek to crumble their faith. They need to know that some will not be convinced and need to be abandoned. Abandoned? Yes—see Matthew 10:14; Mark 6:11; and Luke 9:5. Protect the flock!
Another reason this is important relates to the positive force for the cause of Christ we could utilize if we sought to do so. We have the ability to let our Christian lights shine to the world, but do we really want our lights shining or not? Or, would we rather “let someone else do it”? Think very seriously about the implications of the answer you may be affirming in your heart! Here’s a simple test. Go to Google.com. Type your name in quotation marks (e.g., “David R. Kenney"). Look at all the information that pops up under “All” and “Images” when you hit the “Enter” button. Do you like what you see? Are you embarrassed by what you see?
Here is a question that I have heard preachers ask as I was growing up, and I really want you to think about the answer in the online context. If you were being tried for being a Christian based on the results from this simple test, would there be enough evidence online to convict you? Remember, a lack of evidence does not lead to a conviction! Do you want to be a Christian or not? May we affirm with strong voice to the call Moses made generations ago, “Whoever is on the LORD’s side—come to me!” (Exodus 32:26 NKJV). Whose side are we on? Sadly, the Israelites’ hearts were more in Egypt than in Canaan. Are our hearts more in this world or in the Canaan of Heaven?
The Master’s Plan
in the Master’s Hand
The Earth is whirling, twirling, spinning, spinning,
Turning from night to day and back again.
The Earth is speeding, fleeting, through its
Course in space appointed by the Master’ plan.
The Earth is hurrying, scurrying in its orbit day by day
On its axis rotating daily, weekly,
Monthly on its hastening way,
To complete another year set by the Master’s plan.
Three months to a season, Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn.
Each brings its anticipations, and joys for one and all.
Winter, with the deep sleep of cold to rest the Earth.
Spring, with a vibrant, fragrant awakening of the Earth.
Summer, with flowers, warmth and rain to restore the Earth.
Autumn, with golden trees, falling leaves, preparation for Earth’s rest.
Again according to the Master’s plan.
What do I experience in each season?
In Winter I see the work of God in the design of the snowflake.
In Spring I feel softness of God in every bud and blade of grass.
In Summer I know the gentleness of God in the rain upon the Earth.
In Autumn I see the rich artistry of God as He paints the leaves of trees.
And with each day He grants me to live, I find something to be grateful for
That He has seen fit to let me see this day.
For you see, I know that it is all part of
The Master’s plan, held in the Master’s hand.