|Volume 20 Number 8 August 2018||
To what were you called, and from what were you called? The call of the master is found in Matthew 11:28-30. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” We are called from labor to rest (Matthew 11:28).
We are called from death to life (1 John 3:14). “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love, abides in death.” We are called from bondage to liberty (Galatians 5:13). “For you were called to freedom brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” We are called from darkness into light (1 Peter 2:9). “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” We are called to the fellowship of His son (1 Corinthians 1:9). “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” Above all, we are called by Jesus Christ from bondage to peace.
Friends and Dear Readers, have you answered the call of Jesus Christ? Our Precious Lord calls upon each person to believe that He is the Son of God (John 8:24) and to be baptized into Him (Galatians 3:27) and His death (Romans 6:3-5). “He who believes and is baptized will be saved…” (Mark 16:16 NKJV).
Peter Ray Cole
Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, etc.) has become a part of daily life for many. In a desire to stay connected to a faster-than-ever-paced world, many are checking in socially and even obtaining their news updates from a variety of electronic devices and an increasing number of social media outlets. Much of social media is neutral: it is neither good nor bad. How an individual participates, however, determines the moral outcome. Social media can be used in a positive way, for example, to keep Christian Youth Camp attendees connected throughout the school year, providing immediate support and spiritual encouragement even though many miles and even state—sometimes national—lines separate them. Many times, Christians will use their World Wide Web access to evangelize (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:18-20), webhost a Bible study or write a blog about developing the characteristics of the Virtuous Woman (Proverbs 31). While social media helps to connect friends and families across the miles and provides opportunities for evangelism, it also poses some difficult challenges. Without careful navigation, however, social media interactions can lead to undesired consequences and even result in sin.
Sometimes it becomes difficult to maintain the in-the-world-but-not-of- the-world mentality. This common phrase is adapted from the account of Jesus praying for His disciples in John 17:14-19. In these six verses, we learn that Jesus did not want His followers to be caught up in the enticing aspects of the temporal world. This level of commitment in our lives requires tremendous focus and attention to detail which cannot be maintained consistently with a lackadaisical mindset. Social media exacerbates [intensifies] a careless attitude in two primary ways. First, it provides an instant sense of self-gratification. With the click of a button, people from everywhere in the world instantly see and respond to what has been posted. Suddenly, an individual can feel like he or she is not connected to the world unless constantly checking in, “liking” a post or reposting the latest Tweet. When this occurs, there is most likely a shift from the intent for spiritual good toward the desire to feed an ego that is driven by self-indulgence (James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6).
Second, social media thrives on controversy and drama. It is very difficult to read tone and inflection or to determine if someone was serious or joking. With the potential for miscommunication, our perceptions and emotional responses often make it challenging to be “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19). Lashing out through the safety and distance of their electronic device, people can attack, bully, lie and bring reproach upon the church by posting comments they would likely never say in person. Instead of connecting people together, social media often isolates and then creates paranoia. Face-to-face interaction, email or even Facebook’s “Messenger” to find clarification are cast aside because controversy and snide or overly dramatized remarks get more “hits,” “likes,” “shares” and “reposts.” All of this ties directly into the idea of self-gratification. When you’re more concerned about the Internet’s opinion of you than the Lord’s prayer for you, there is a serious problem.
Relationships are complicated; social media adds an additional layer of complexity. We must make sure that our electronic conversations are graceful and seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6). Being self-aware of our emotions and taking time to think instead of responding rashly may help us avoid undesired consequences. Before posting, we should ask ourselves: (1) Does this message emulate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1)? (2) Could this message bring reproach upon the church (Philippians 2:15; 2 Samuel 12:14)? (3) Does this message pass the test of the principles found in Ephesians 4:29-32? Navigating the quagmire of social media can be difficult, and as Christians, we must be mindful that we are the light of the world—even on the Internet (Matthew 5:14).