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.

How Close?

It’s a game some Christians play all the time, and although the rules can change from person to person, it goes something like this. I want you to think I am a good person, and even a Christian, but I don’t want my friends to think I am so different from them. Basically, I don’t want to look or sound weird to them.

 

I can make an effort to dress like them, with provocative clothing. This would apply more to the ladies, and shows itself in lower necklines and shorter skirts. The lower and shorter the better you play the game.

 

Or..We might want to talk like them in everyday conversation by using words and language which go close to the bare bone. Some will even use words which rhyme with and sound like you are using a swear word, but the good thing is, you are not. You get very close but don’t cross the actual line. The more you can sound like the unsaved, the better you play the game.

 

Or…We would never read the same secular, racy magazines, but we will be seen to know about similar reading material, all in the quest to look like them. You know, just human. Yet another way to play the game to better effect.

 

Or…It is so easy  to use the internet to see what they are watching, just for research purposes you understand. And anyway, who will know what level of ‘racy’ or ‘adult’ material you happen to come across in your desire to be like them. It can also give you common ground for striking up a conversation. Not a Christian one of course, but who knows it might lead there eventually. A way to get your information without being caught in a compromising situation which would be difficult to defend. You are playing the game really well with this little sleight of hand.

 

Or…When we mix in the same company, no matter where, we show them that although we are a Christian, we can go to the same places as them, and no one will bat an eyelid. The more we behave like the ‘regulars’, the better we play the game. And we can do that so convincingly. So we go to church, but also go to the pub and/or club. By now, we have pretty much mastered the game, and feel very comfortable. We can so easily defend ourselves by saying that Jesus sat with sinners, unlike the Pharisees who knew what their Bible said but had no love. We are only trying to be like Jesus, right?

 

Of course the ways to play the game differ, but the aim is always the same. To make it look to our Christian friends that we are in fact Christians, while at the same time, making it look to our unsaved friends that we are human, just like them. My only concern is how could we be a convincing witness for our unsaved friends to want to be a Christian when there is so little difference?

 

Let me leave this thought with you. There are other Christians who do not play this game, and have no need or desire to walk so close to the cliff edge. What effect do you think it has on them, particularly the younger ones in the faith? Would they be in danger of falling over the edge of the cliff? The cliff edge that you have so carefully tried to avoid? Other lives do matter, both the saved and the unsaved, so why play games which do not help either, and only serve to play to our own ego?

 

When I reach heaven, I want to be greeted with “Well done, good and faithful servant”, not “Well you cut that close”. How about you?

Walter Mitty

Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. James 1:8 NLT

 

Walter Mitty is a fictional character who lives in a dream world. One in which he is far removed from the mild mannered person he really is. In fact his real life and his hidden life are very far distant from each other, but it’s only a bit of fun, isn’t it, and quite harmless?

 

The Bible tells us that we are in great danger if our loyalty is divided between God and the world. Yes, we must be in the world, but not of the world. If our loyalty to God is not divided and is clear, we are stable in everything we do. Did you catch that? When our loyalty to God is undivided, we are stable in everything else we do!

 

Jesus had stern words for the church leaders of His day, and He described them as whitewashed tombs. Clean in appearance on the outside, but inside it’s a different matter. Full of death. We say it another way nowadays and it is every bit as clear.. We must “walk the walk, and talk the talk”. How else will the others around us know which part of us is the real, or greater part if we are divided? Who we say we are, or who we really are?

 

Are we playing the character of Walter Mitty with spiritual things? Good and pure during a Sunday, but no different than our worldly friends Monday to Saturday? Do you really think they don’t notice? Whether they say it or not, they have already made up their minds if we are loyal and stable. I pray we are up to the challenge, because unlike Walter Mitty, that’s certainly not harmless either to ourselves, or the witness to our friends. It has eternal consequences.

Same In – Same Out

You know the old truth, “Don’t expect anything different to happen if you keep on doing the same things”. It’s a fact, but sometimes overlooked in church circles. There are some things that should never change, no matter what happens, for example the certainty of our salvation, even though numbers around you are dropping. Or the preaching of the Gospel.

 

However, there are other methods we use today, which may have worked 40 years ago, but don’t work now. Church attendance across most denominations is falling, and leaders wring their hands and say, “what are we doing wrong?” One change is that parents no longer send their children to church or Sunday School, and that has made a big difference!

 

If the methods we use are working against us, then it’s time to change to something different. It seems a lifetime ago now, but in engineering we were used to watching for the downturn of results, and making corrections before things got too far out of hand, making recovery impossible. We are not good at that in church circles, because we don’t like admitting to defeat, and we tell ourselves not to quit because that would be the wrong thing to do. Or is it? We can be prone to “wait and see”. Unfortunately, in business and yes, even in church, there are times when we have to admit defeat, abandon a particular project, and move on!

 

There may be no certainty that doing a new thing will work, but one thing is sure, we can always tell when the present setup is not working. As a final thought, It is very true that “numbers are not everything”, but have you noticed that this is usually said by members of a small church, with little history or outlook of growth?

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!

HappySad

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Romans 12:15-16

 

This is one of those easy to understand passages, and quoted often, especially when we get alongside those who are going through a hard time. We tend to stress these tough times, mainly because we are comfortable helping others when their humanity is weakest and most frail. This makes us feel good and helpful. However, the verse has another side, and we ignore at our peril.

 

It has been said often that pride is the greatest sin, and at the root of many, if not all, other sins. Maybe that’s why we don’t find it easy to talk or preach about being happy for others in the happiness of their achievements. When our friends do a great deed, especially for the Kingdom, we don’t usually rush to congratulate them because sometimes we think: Why all the attention, after all I did that same thing ages ago and nobody made a fuss of me? Oh yes, pride goes before a fall, can be unseemly, and very un-Christian.

 

(By the way, ‘HappySad’ is a word coined by my daughter Heather, and I have used it often!)

Starting Small

Catch us the foxes, The little foxes that spoil the vines, For our vines have tender grapes. Song of Solomon 2:15

 

It always starts in a small way. Perhaps unnoticed at the beginning, but slowly grows until it becomes too big to stop. So it is with church, its doctrines and practices.

 

We have seen the reports of some of the world’s biggest churches, bow to the practice of accepting gay marriage, including blessing them, and officiating in the god-less unions. The Church of Scotland, United Methodists and Episcopalians are just some who have already given in to secular pressure, and reinterpreted Scripture to suit their own political ends.

 

It started small, with the academics leading the way by suggesting that we need to accept and be an inclusive church. That means not demonising the gay community, and making them feel loved and accepted. It takes just a few small steps for that to grow into full integration and membership of their church congregations. From there, it is another short step to inclusion into the leadership, ministerial and pastoral. At this point it follows that anyone in the gay community can be ‘married’.

 

The little foxes spoiled the vines, or to put it another way, the little concessions and compromises inevitably led to the end result. The Bible is not up for negotiation to suit our requirements. Yes, we must love everybody. We are all sinners, and stay that way until saved by grace. Wouldn’t it have been better if the first ‘little foxes’ were confronted and discounted before any harm was done? Maybe that’s all too simple for the top minds in our churches, who have one eye on the political situation, and think they will be left behind if they don’t go with the flow.

 

It comes down to this: As Christians do we accept the Bible as The Word of God, or a book of recommendations and suggestions? The answer determines if you turn a blind eye to the ‘little foxes’, or let them run riot in the chicken coop. In my opinion, that question is equally valid for the Christian in the pew, as it is for our church leaders.