Don’t let the Sun go Down on Your Social Media Anger

Social Media is not good bedtime reading. With the glowing screen illuminating my face, I am privy to the fun and thoughts of my friends and ‘friends’, my followers and followed. I catch up and catch on to the trending world of opinion, supported and not supported (“It’s my opinion so it doesn’t actually have to be based in fact”, Yep, actual quote).

But the longer and further I read I start to see the themes in other people’s lives. Their political/vaccination/parenting/environmental/theological leanings are offered up. I can see, in those people whose stories I know, how each theme seems to weave a tapestry of what is going on in their lives at that moment. That mom who’s feeling over tired and attacked for her parenting choices. That friend whose political world has just been rocked. That person who reads uplifting words first thing in the morning to allow them to see hope in another day.

And then this encounters my own life experiences and insecurities and tempers and blood can boil. We seem to focus on other people’s ‘stupidity’ because it encounters our own ‘wisdom’.

We start to see people as their 140-500 character snippits rather than the person behind the post.

Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good. They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone. Titus 3:1-2

It’s difficult to take the high road when you think someone else’s opinion or reasoning is stupid. And we would never say that we think they’re stupid, but at 12:30am in front of the glowing screen, we probably think a lot of uncharitable things.

Because it’s easy to lose the person with a screen between you.

Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But—

When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life. Titus 3:3-7

In the midst of the clash of opinions it’s difficult for me to remember that there are gaps in my wisdom and that my sense of goodness shouldn’t be measured in comparison to others. 

It’s only through the grace and mercy of Christ that I’ve gotten this far. And this far is a person in progress.

God calls us to look at other people and live in community with them, seeing them as loved and created by him. And this means sometimes putting up with other people’s opinions as they put up with ours. In Titus 3:1-2 above, I think God is reminding us that other people aren’t going to say or behave the way we think they should. We’re to love and respect them anyway.

Yep, even in the midst of the stupid, love needs to be our guiding factor. No matter the situation we’re supposed to enter in with kind words, peace, and consideration, and a healthy dose of “I don’t have the answers to every issue on earth”. 

And why and how are we possibly supposed to do this?

Because we’re only where we are because of the mercy of Christ. He saw us in our stupid and disobedient and destructive state and he saved us.

He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.

And how we love and interact with other people needs to be subject at all times to the knowledge of that mercy.

And hopefully in my own life there will be less stupid and more patience. More seeing people than their words on the screen.


We Work to Eat

My mother wasn’t the sort of parent to offer me catch phrases in order to inspire changes in my behaviour. She would lovingly guide me through life with kind words and explanations.

But there was one phrase that she would use to inspire and motivate (to thwart complaining and move us to working).

“You don’t work, you don’t eat”

This sounds harsh but everything in context, right?

My mother would use this phrase while standing beside me, holding a hoe, as we gazed down at the enormous garden (no exaggeration. Just her potatoes alone took over part of a field) that she worked every summer. This garden was what fed us through the winter, filled our deepfreezes, and provided nourishment throughout the long Manitoba winter.

As a child gazing over the garden that took two days to weed, this phrase was daunting. I was learning early that some of the things that are necessary to our well-being require work.

Imagine my surprise when one day I found this saying in the Bible. So many times the things we may say or think are in the Bible may actually not be. I never imagined that this would be a phrase that was Scriptural. It sounded too human.

For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, labouring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: If someone will not work, they shall not eat. 2 Thessalonians 3:7-10

I’m not in possession of an acre of garden, nor am I in the position where the work of everyday is a straining necessity for the day’s food. But I am in possession of the blessing of a Christian community around me. A Church where I can receive and serve, surrounded by others who see the same.

But it’s not always that cut and dried, that simple where within the Church we contribute as much as we receive.

In our Churches we don’t always work to eat.

If we enter the door of our churches with a consumer mindset, and if we’re honest, many of us do.

“I’m not being fed”

“It’s just not my style”

“They’re just not in line with my passions and goals”

Just like the friends of the Little Red Hen, we can have the deep desire to benefit from the labours of others. Their gift of service becomes our homage, and we become almost parasitic in our approach to Church family.

And then when our appetite becomes insatiable, we feel our needs aren’t being met despite the blood, sweat, and discouragement of others, we leave.

When I look at Paul’s words here I love the picture he paints. He speaks of how they worked, not only to keep from being a burden, but to bless others.

And there’s a symbiotic nature to what he’s saying. “We did, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you.”

Paul realizes that the nature of the Church is to give so that others are fed and to receive that we may give again. We nourish so that all of us are equipped.

We work so that we eat.

We give of our gifts, working for the good of others and through those experiences we learn and grow. We learn more about God and ourselves, our love grows bigger, our endurance sinks deeper into Christ.

If we sit on the surface of Church, grazing off the top and leaving before we seek deeper nourishment, we are losing out on the depth of connection and purpose that God has planned for us. He created his Church for us to be filled and poured out, and grown. Grown deeper, wider, higher in relationship with God and each other.