I attend a church that is part of the International Churches of Christ. There are about 700 churches in most of the countries in the world. Like pretty much everyone else, we have been unable to meet during the COVID-19 plague and have been having virtual services on Sundays.
In North Carolina, we have 8 congregations – in Charlotte, Greensboro, Fayetteville, Asheville, Wilmington, Jacksonville (Coastal Carolina Church), Boone (Appalachian Christian Church), and Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill (Triangle Church of Christ). On May 31, we held a joint online service for all 8 congregations. Many songs were performed, communion, a sermon, and a roundtable discussion with 4 of the churches’ lead evangelists. The lead evangelist from the Charlotte church, Rodney Fuller, gave the sermon (woo-hoo!). Something he pointed out during the sermon is the basis for today’s post about the current crises.
He called it “Reaction vs. Response.” In many forums where there can be interaction (social media, website article comment sections, etc.) feature a lot of content that seeks to make people react. This content speaks to emotion, especially indignation and anger. It calls for you to come forward with the first thing that comes to your mind. Rodney reminded us that most interaction with Jesus was a reaction, such as the Pharisees’ constant combative exchanges with Jesus, along with their intense anger and desire to see him jailed or killed.
However, Jesus always used a response instead of a reaction. He would quote Old Testament passages, speak in parables with calls to action, and challenge people (such as “sell all you have, give to the poor, and follow Me”).
What does that mean for us?
The leaders of our NC churches encouraged us to avoid social media where possible since it is full of bait and reactions. I’m not willing to swear off social media at this point, because I do have some actual friends where social media is our primary method of keeping in touch. I have reduced the number of hours I spend there so I can avoid reactionary situations. I offer the following guidelines for social media interaction:
- Avoid extreme language. I don’t have to break it down on a 2nd-grade reading level here. Use basic knowledge. Many posts either use extreme language outright or employ a more hidden message. Basic logic will discover it quite easily. Anything that says or insinuates that all whites are Nazis, all blacks are thugs, all Democrats are Communists, all Republicans are fascists, and anything else that says every person in a particular group is exactly the same is something to avoid. Do not reply. SCROLL DOWN or SWIPE UP. Whoever posted this is not ready for honest, mature, problem-solving dialogue. Typically, they just want attention. Don’t give it to them.
- Watch what you say. Don’t be part of the mob described in the previous point. Whenever you post on social media, read and re-read your post 2-3 times before you hit “submit.” Make sure you are not lumping everyone into one bucket or insulting someone you don’t know. Do this especially if you call yourself a Christian. Would you say this if you were standing in front of the person? Would you say it if Jesus were physically standing next to you? If not, delete and start over.
- Journal. If you want to vent your spleen, I suggest journaling. Write down on paper or a Word document whatever insanity is spinning through your head. It is very likely that you will feel a sense of relief wash over you, and you can then speak about the subject(s) on social media without saying things you will regret later. I do all my journaling in Word documents, and I save them to my OneDrive files. I go back every now and then and check on what was on my mind 6 weeks or 18 months ago. It keeps things in perspective and gives me insight on the ways I have grown or still need help.
The Best Advice
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” – Romans 12:18