Tuesday, January 31, 2017

What is a Christian to Do?

When I first joined Facebook I thought it would be a wonderful tool to help me keep in touch with my family as my grandchildren grow up. It would also reconnect me with friends I had from decades ago. As my list of friends grew, my newsfeed got busier, and soon the content changed. People and organizations had agendas that were pushed onto the newsfeeds. News articles replaced personal updates. I joined in with enthusiasm by contributing links to news articles I thought interesting or significant.Sometimes I would risk losing a Facebook friend by unleashing Snopes on their fake news. 

But these days it is becoming next to impossible to discern the difference between fake news, genuine news or an emotional opinion piece that passes as news. Even our mainstream news channels continue to provide “alternate facts”. Anxiety is bubbling over everywhere. Positions are taken that are either black or white. Friends and even families are expressing disagreement with each other. There is little room for anything in between. Saner voices are drowned out and overwritten. 
What is most concerning to me are the Christian voices on Facebook that don’t sound very Christian. Those who are meant to have their ‘feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace’ are using their keyboards to sound out a message of hostility. Again and again I see items from Christian newsfeeds that serve no purpose but to heighten fear and to polarize people. 
 May I leave you with a challenge?

a. With those sounds of hostility, you are pushing moderate Muslims into the arms of the radical Muslims. It is a known fact that Muslims who come to Christ come mainly because a Christian befriends them and demonstrates a lifestyle that takes them by surprise because it is gracious and it contradicts the stereotype of Christianity that they have been taught. By constantly posting anti-Muslim rhetoric, you are reinforcing the stereotype that they have been taught from the time they were children.
b. For decades Christians have tried to get into Muslim lands to proclaim the gospel there, and some have lost their lives doing so. Now God is bringing them to our shores. How is it that Christians are the ones expressing fear over this?? God is doing this, and we ought to be rejoicing. We ought to be learning how to befriend them. How many of you have learned how to share the gospel with a Muslim?

c. Let’s get back to what we know will transform hearts and lives ; i.e. the transformative power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He promised to give us life to the full. Let’s act like we have that life, and let’s let our joy and freedom become obvious, in our facebook posts as well as in our daily lives.

d. You say you believe in the sovereignty of God? Then stop being so afraid. Stop reacting to every hiccup. God has ordained the powers that be. He is moving things towards the fulfillment of His purposes, and no one can ‘stay his Hand.’ He will determine when it is closing time, and no one else. Let’s act and live like we really believe in His sovereignty and that He is in charge of the end times.

e. We have had it good for a long time in the West. What? Did you think this would last forever? Did you think North America would escape the judgment of God? We have built up a huge moral debt with our profligacy and our consumerism. Society is flaunting God’s laws at every turn now. This cannot happen without divine consequences. And Christians will have to live through times of national judgment.

f. “Be anxious for nothing”… remember those words? They were written to Christians in an era when Christianity was officially illegal under the governance of the Roman Emperors. In fact, Christians were exhorted to be submissive to the very emperor who was persecuting them. Should we not do the same? How about learning how to bless those who persecute, and to pray for our enemies; in fact learn how to love them. Didn’t Jesus say that even the Pharisees love those who love them. But he expects us to be wonderfully different from those in the world.

g. Let’s get back to the great Commission and the great Commandment. That’s our primary obligation as disciples of Christ. Not the disruption of governance, whether good or bad. We cannot change hearts. But we can show people our changed hearts. And if Christ is seen there, who knows what can happen?