Time Slots

I have found myself asking this question recently: Is a series of 20 minute get togethers enough to be able to know someone? It may even be the same 20 minute setting every week, but if it’s online, and because of the way we ‘feel’ about the video or podcast, are we really that much closer to what that person is like during the other 23+ hours of the day?

 

When you were young, and maybe you still are, you deliberately took as much time as possible, over a long period, to get to know the love of your life. If you relied on the same 20 minutes, once a week, at the same time, do you think that would give you enough information to decide if you wanted to marry, and spend the rest of your life together? Not to mention commit yourself to all the financial and emotional needs?

 

The internet is a minefield, and I’m sure you already know that. But how seriously do we take some things that are said there, especially when they are said with some authority and conviction? I have learned recently, that a short 20 minute sermon is not enough to form a correct and accurate opinion of someone, and even more so if that time is pulled down from an untrusted website.

 

Like it or not, we can all crave a Godly figurehead that we can respect and look up to. We want to believe them when they preach, but does that short window give us enough time to throw our lot in with them, perhaps calling them our ‘example’, ‘mentor’, ‘teacher’, or even ‘Pastor’? There are many self proclaimed Bible preachers on TV and the internet who command a large following, and for many it’s all down to the 20 minute sermons they preach.

 

Some followers don’t even live in the same country as their leaders. So, when your life is falling apart and you need a counsellor, can you ask them to drop in and pray? If a loved one is at death’s door, who will be there with you to comfort? If you want your baby to be dedicated, will your distant ‘Pastor’ perform that sacrament for you? Marry you? Bury you? Who do you fellowship with, and who do you give your tithe and offering to? And the list goes on.  

 

It concerns me greatly that some very well educated, clever Christians are sucked into the ‘online church’ because it tickles their ears with what they want to hear, at least for 20 minutes a time. Is that really what is intended in Hebrews 10:24-25 by “ And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”?

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Disown?

We do it on Facebook when we decide that someone posts things which are offensive, inappropriate, or racist, and we think nothing of it. We do it in life with some folks we come into contact with who might be opposite from ourself in so many ways and you get irritated and annoyed when you are in their company. Churches do it, by excommunicating or excluding those who do not uphold that church’s beliefs, and who go directly against doctrine. They might be called heretics. These are all examples we could live with, and we may have done one of these ourselves. Social media comes to the rescue, and makes it so easy to ‘unfollow’, ‘unfriend’ or ‘block’ that annoying person.

 

Does this mean we are free to disown anyone we take a dislike to, or one who goes against the things we like, accept, believe, or uphold? Disowning someone publicly has serious consequences, especially if we claim the name of ‘Christ’-ian. In life, there are lots of people who don’t agree with us in everything, and likewise there are those we don’t much like ourselves. Is it enough to disown someone purely because we don’t like their lifestyle? I don’t think so. We might decide never to holiday with them, but disown them? No.

 

What message are we giving to the people we would disown? Maybe it’s that they don’t live up to my or your standard? Is it because they are inferior? Could it be that we forget how we behaved when we were immature, and the behaviour we now detest, we once did ourselves? Am I getting uncomfortably close to the truth? If we really want to claim the name ‘Christ’-ian we need to believe His word and behave like He tells us. After all…..

 

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

AntiSocial Media

If you live in the UK, you will know the sad story of Charlie Gard, a little 11 month old baby who had a life limiting disease, and how his mum and dad had been through the court system, trying everything in their power to save him. His life maintaining tubes and medical paraphernalia were recommended to be removed to allow the little boy die ‘with dignity’. His parents were distraught, and were been faced with a situation which at the end of the day is the life and death of their only son, and one which no parent should ever have to face. This whole situation was played out in the media court of worldwide public opinion, which made it worse. I even saw a USA newspaper report which blamed the UK NHS and the government for Charlie’s death. In my opinion, that is one country which has no room to talk about health care and politics.

 

As if this heartache wasn’t bad enough, thousands of mindless people took to ‘social’ media to question the medical staff at Great Ormond Street Hospital, and their care for Charlie. Death threats were even made on so called ‘social’ media against the very people who cared night and day to keep this little soul alive while a court case raged around him. All the medical opinion was that his condition was irreversible and his life support should be removed, but these ‘not so wise guys’ who make Facebook and Twitter (there are other social media sites) their weapon of choice, think they know better. No qualifications or medical experience. No connection to the family. No heart. Just anger at a hospital who do what they can to improve the health of children when they can, and are distressed when they get too close to their tiny charges, and the unthinkable happens. Then there was the American doctor who raised false hope by claiming his revolutionary experimental treatment  could turn Charlie’s situation around. It took him months to come to London to see the baby for himself and view the case notes, and it was too late to prove anything. That speaks volumes. Heartless? Do I hear a cash register ringing in my ears? The Pope and Donald Trump also offered ‘any help they could give’, but that went silent as well.

 

If there was ever a case for believing our society has reached the tipping point of understanding true compassion, this is it. These thousands of mindless trolls represent the kind of society we belong to, and I am ashamed that I am seen as a part of it. This is only one part of an obviously broken community, country, and world. I believe the only thing that will help is the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, who will sort out the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the chaff, the good from the evil. Only then will we rest in the assurance that the death of this little boy has been defeated, and our literally ‘God-less’ society has been set straight.

Repeats

Like a dog that returns to its vomit, a fool does the same foolish things again and again. Proverbs 26:11

 

Strong words from Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived. His writings are preserved for us and we do well to take heed of his thoughts. As I read these words, I couldn’t help but think about Facebook, some posted thoughts, and more significantly, the comments posted in response.

 

We have all been there. We saw the words from a ‘friend’ and they sounded extreme. Could have been politics, religion, or a recent news item, but we are drawn into the mistake of putting our own ‘correction’ to the ‘foolishness’ expressed by the original person. Of course we are not alone, because others have seen the words and want to express their own views, and it can get messy! Sometimes we even return to our own foolish words and repeat them, or even over-emphasise them to the effect that they sound even more out of order, and just plain daft! Been there? Know someone who has done this? We are not alone.

 

Solomon compares the fool going over the same wrong things repeatedly, to the dog returning to its vomit. The big difference is that the dog can’t help it, and we can! But true to our base nature, we defend our errors again and again, and to others it all looks and sounds so petty, false, plain wrong, and very unconvincing. Yes, Solomon was a wise man!