This is a long story today, but if you use any kind of social media to communicate with others, including email, I think it will be worth your while to read it.
So….I have quite a few Facebook friends ~ Not 800 or anything like that, but about 200 or so. A few are friends by association, sure. But most of the people I have ‘friended” on Facebook are truly people I interact with frequently, or have known well over the years (good buddies from high school, some friends from college, and people I have worked with in the past or presently).
However, you know how these things work, I am sure. You see all kinds of garbage out there, (mostly, from friends of your friends) no matter what you do. But for me, I believe, that as Christians, we are told to go where the people are – and, well…..the people are on Facebook – so it makes sense to use that method of communication to love other people as best we can. We are also told though, that when things get to a certain point, we are to “dust off our feet” and move on. Now, just hear me out on this one……
Here is NOT what my point is today in this post:
- I am NOT going to bash Facebook. Like anything else, things can be used for good and they can be abused as well. It is not Facebook’s fault that nasty things happen on there. It is people who choose that.
“The tongue has the power of life and death.” Proverbs 18:21 (Um, and Yes! Speaking by letting your fingers do the talking counts)
We can go on and on about how social media is a substitute for the real thing – it’s true. It’s not TRUE connectivity and relationship most of the time. But it is something.
Fact is, no one is connecting anymore in a real way a lot of the time. This is the way that it is in our “advanced” world, isn’t it? I avoided it as long as possible, hanging onto the hope that the few of us out there that wanted to stick to true relationship – (you know – the kind where you actually have to interact with the person AFTER you have opened your mouth?) could make that still be a core part of our world. But, alas – it just is not that way any longer. People are creatures of convenience – and that’s that. Not everybody, but you get the drift.
So, aside from my immediate world – my own family, our church, friends and co-workers, basically, our every-day circle, Facebook and social media is how I connect with people. I have accepted that, although it’s not my preference. Neither are a lot of things these days.
But, with the help of Jesus, and great friends like you, I have found that there is a way to connect on Facebook, this blog, and other types of social media. And a lot of it is very valuable. I can talk to people I might not get to see otherwise, share love and edification with people I may never have the chance to meet in person, and share the gospel of Jesus Christ while making good friends all at the same time.
But today I want to share something with you about the down side of social media, and how the Lord is faithful to use even that to make us all the stronger!
I am disturbed by the fact that we don’t always do our best to make social media a place of goodness for one another. For me, “goodness” doesn’t always mean happy. It can be learning something new, sharing in others sorrows as well as their concerns or trials, or just plain staying somewhat connected with other people.
But there need to be boundaries in anything that we do, don’t there? I mean, things like respect, care, concern? Why do those things need to be tossed out the window so often?.
And why do we think it has to stay the way that it is? Why can’t we just decide that we are going to use it to build one another up and truly learn from one another, even when we have different opinions? Why does it have to be about tearing one another down so very often? Or about edificaton of the self, rather than others?
Sometimes, I just think it should be called “InyourFacebook” instead – what, with all the slings and arrows we find spewed out all over the place there at times.
Last week was sooo hard for me on Facebook. I decided to jump into a thread to make an attempt at some love and positivity – a thread that had gotten really ugly by the time I prayerfully stepped into it. It was one of those debates about a controversial issue, which I almost always steer clear of – but I really felt the Lord telling me to try to share some love with these folks I found here.
Friends, I have seen some nasty threads on Facebook before, but this one took the cake. At the end of the day, honestly, I just provided them with more fuel to allow it to get uglier and uglier and uglier. It was an absolute HATE thread.
The irony in it all, was that I actually jumped in to try and say that maybe we are all missing the point – that just possibly, could it be, that instead of figuring out why this side or that side doesn’t agree, or bash one side versus the other side on the issue, maybe we should focus on what is really important here and love one another in spite of the fact that many of us are going to have differing opinions or hold to different values at times. And I really did say it in a very kind, soft, way! Whooo Weeee!
It did not go well. AT ALL. For a moment, I really had to wonder if I missed the virtual memo announcing that this day was Hatebook day? THIS is how my attempt at throwing them some love was NOT received!
Let me tell you now….my suggestion to turn it to love was met back with the greatest level of hostility I think that I have ever experienced, or even witnesed online. It got so bad, friends, that I actually felt like I had to literally remove myself from the thread and delete my comments entirely, as I felt my security and privacy were starting to be threatened. I truly believe, that if I would have been face to face with these people, they may have harmed me physically. That was not my greatest concern, but it was one, for sure.
FOR SAYING WE SHOULD LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Of course, through the process, I was point blank asked where I stood on the issue (of course). I did tell them “No, I don’t agree, but that’s not why I stepped into this thread today”. Over and over again, I tried to go RIGHT back to my point – that the issue here was to be loving of one another in spite of the fact that they may think one way, while others think another. It was not to be accepted. It was not even to be considered!
THAT, is where, by the world’s standards, I went wrong. To even suggest to these folks that I didn’t share the same opinion, even though I tried to share love ~ well, it didn’t matter. I was virtually slaughtered at that point. Because they weren’t looking for love. They were looking for someone else to agree and join the hate club.
Word were put in my mouth. EVEN with my comments right there, for everyone to see, several people were saying that “so you are saying ______” when I didn’t even come close to that at all!
I was told that I should **&!! off and “toddle my little Christian ___” off. They only knew I was Christian, because I said, when asked point blank to share where I stood on the “issue” that “No, I don’t agree, because I am a Christian, but I think we should still love one another.”
That was IT! I said nothing about sin, judgement, condemnation – quite the opposite. But knowing I was a Christian? Well, that was just too much for these folks.
The rest, I won’t even share with you. But it was U-G-L-Y. So ugly that I actually felt sick to my stomach. I may be a nice girl, but I do have a pretty thick skin. It was bad. But mostly, I was deeply disturbed because I was beyond flabbergasted. And then I felt soooo truly and deeply sorry for these folks that I actually started weeping.
At one point, I even asked “how can you make this a bad thing, what I am saying?”
No answer. Just hate coming back 10 fold. Even when the Lord told me to sit and just read, remain quiet, I still kept receiving the zingers of hate. It was surreal.
So, why do I share all of this? I want to share what all came out of this for me in my spiritual growth. I hope to encourage you, especially if you are a Christian who is finding it more and more difficult to love others who hate you.
“You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the
end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22 NIV
I believe we are to stand firm not only for what we believe as Christian, but even more so in love. When I look to the cross, that is what I see in Jesus. He spoke the truth, but at a certain point, stopped talking. But He kept on loving. Through every slash, every punch, every thorn, every whip, every nail, every mockery, through death. To the end. And then, He rose up again and now lives with His father in heaven for all eternity. Just as we shall get to do one day, if we are Christians. With the King!
Friends, the honest truth is, as my brother shared – many people don’t really care about our “love”. They translate “love” into whether or not we are on their “side”. And that is flawed thinking. That is sad thinking. That is the thought process that a world without Christ in the center of it operates under.
And I cried a river of tears over that.
I agonized over this situation, while it was happening and after for several days. In all reality, I am still somewhat upset (emotionally) about it. I am sad for them, not for me. This blog post is the last I am going to be talking about this. Because it’s time for me to completely leave it behind me. But the Lord has placed it upon my heart to share with you first, so I am doing just that.
I couldn’t dust off my heart, friends. I kept going to the Lord in prayer, and asking Him to take it from me. Then, I realized, He is trying to grow my heart for those who are lost and desolate. He wants to soften my heart even more.
Maybe we are to physically dust off our feet at times, but our hearts are still to be broken. Maybe it is because, after something like this happens, when we next encounter a lost or hateful group of people, we will be able to try again – to love them like Christ does. And His strength is made so very perfect in our weakness – in what can sometimes look like our “failures.” Our failures are His successes – one way or another, He will reign supreme!
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect
in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so
that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
You know, if Christ IS love, then it makes sense that Christians would be hated for speaking, or even trying to show some love. Even before these people on Facebook knew I was a Christian, when I first commented, “hey, maybe we should love one another, it seems like that would do some good here”, I was attacked. I was told I was “hiding behind love”.
I speak the truth, as I am sure many of you do, in love, and when the Spirit leads me to, regarding where I stand on certain issues. But I also do so in His timing as He so leads me! We are to be salt and light in this world. That means the platter of stuff we are to serve up is to be made up primarily of grace and sprinkled with salt, not covered in it.
I think the Spirit does a perfect job of telling me when to speak my thoughts about sin, or where I stand on issues as a Christian, and when to hold that back, and just love on people. But last week showed me clearly, that we are escalating into a time in which that will no longer be enough for many folks – showing love and care and concern, I mean. In fact, it may be enough for one thing and one thing only: to, at the very least, “virtually” crucify us.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds
of evil against you because of me.” Matthew 5:11
And sometimes, others will be blessed out of what God does through us too.
God IS love. Anything to do with God will be hated, so love will be hated. So will we for speaking it, showing it, being it, or even hinting at it. Anything to do with it will eventually be hated. At least, the real kind of love, that is.
I know this sounds like a bummer of a post and maybe it is. These are dark times, friends. But it is the reality of this world and the times in which we are living.
However, our ultimate destiny really is not here if we are followers after Christ. We have to live here right now, true. We endure many difficulties, trials, sufferings and blessings here, yes. But we are blessed beyond measure. Now, and for all eternity! If we have accepted Christ as our Savior and Lord.
If you have not accepted the gift of salvation through Christ Jesus, won’t you do so today? He is the only light in this world that is real and true, friends. He can wash away all sin! And what we have in Him goes way beyond this world! (See John 3:16)
For most of you that subscribe to this blog, you are already a fellow Christian, so I do want to share one last thing.
The most difficult thing for me last week in reference to myself (my own selfish feelings for me, not for them) was the fact that when all was said and done, I felt the Spirit of the Lord telling me clearly that I would have to literally remove my comments from that venomous thread. I knew with no question, that if I did so, that my friend who started the thread (who had gone to bed while her other friends were slaughtering away) would come in the next morning and see these people’s comments and assume I was preaching sin and condemnation.
THAT was very hard for me.
And exactly what I predicted did happen. I had sent my friend a message explaining what I said, and what I was trying to make a point about and why I had to remove my comments. She, of course, told me she felt I removed them because “I knew my arguement was invalid.” She then posted her own comments on the thread, directed at me, and put words into my mouth that were nowhere near to what I had said.
So be it.
There was never any “arguement”. None whatsoever. I hadn’t even stated my case for how my beliefs should be held as true or right in their eyes. I hadn’t condemned them for their thoughts, views, or feelings either. In fact, I had gone way out of the way to make sure they knew it wasn’t for me to judge, and that my whole point was about being loving.
But the Lord asked me to turn that over to Him – utterly and completely. I still don’t fully understand why, but He did. And I am still working on that.
I actually had sat right here that night, at this very computer, tears streaming down my face, along with my wise and mature daughter as we agonized over whether or not to remove my comments from that ugly thread. It took me an hour, just staring at it to make the decison. Nothing I said brought me any shame – but even being associated with it made my stomach turn.
Friends, please understand I share none of this to be some kind of martyr in your eyes – it is quite the opposite, actually. I stand in awe today of my own inadequacy as a soldier in Christ, shielded in love; because I got utterly slaughtered – ha ha!
But the Holy Spirit did not fail me, and with this, I wish to encourage you!
It came down to this:
- Remove my comments and allow her to think (assume), upon reading all the trash, words that were put into my mouth, false accusations, cuss outs, trashing of Christ and the bible, and threats toward me, (in all of her other friends’ comments that had surrounded mine) that I was preaching judgment and condemnation.
- Leave my comments and hope that she sees that I was trying to be loving, yet risk being unable to dust off my feet, which the Lord was clearly urging me to do at this point.
Then I heard the whisper:
Anne, did anyone else care about your loving message in that thread? Did they still falsely accuse you for speaking love in my name? Did they still threaten you, trash me, and not only refuse to accept that maybe you had a good point, but virtually kill you with their words? WITH your comments in there, for all to read and see, did they still do so? This is part of following after me with all your heart, mind, body, soul. I will take care of you and the rest. You need to leave these people behind for now.
I realized right then that it was about being so sad for these people, but also about my own surrender and obedience. It was about leaving these people behind me completely and dusting off my feet. It was about allowing God to soften my heart, while thickening up my skin. And I have to let my old “friend” think what she is going to think. Not only that, I had to remove her from my Facebook entirely.
That sucked rocks, by the way. Dirty, dirty rocks!
I think the most important thing I wish to share today, is that sometimes, although we are called to love one another as Christ loves us, people are not always going to accept that love. We are still to try, and still to forgive, but He does tell us to move on if this happens. We can do both – we can move on and still have pure hearts – as long as we forgive and stay in prayer, and continue to seek after the Lord and those who are lost, we are living as He asks us to live!
And that’s where I want to be. I pray that you do too.
“And when you go into a household, greet it. 13 If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. 15 Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city! Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:12-16
I have moved on physically and literally, but my heart is still a little dusty. I am sad, because I may be the only Chrisitan that was in her world, for all I know. I struggled and struggled with this decision, because that “friend” of mine – well, she really needs Jesus. See, she says she “believes in God”, but if she is a Christian, she is being seriously attacked right now. And honestly, I seriously have my doubts. All I can do, is pray for her now. And God knows her heart. I will probably never get to know this side of heaven. And that’s okay, because the One who matters? He knows. Will you pray for my friend?
Another flash: I did what the Lord led me to do and now the rest is up to Him!
Oh yah. (Why do we do this sometimes?) D.U.H.
It has taken me a while to get to the point of my title, but here it is: I don’t know about you guys, but I really work very hard to use my Facebook to glorify God and build others up. But through all this, He showed me that I can show grace through Facebook in new and innovative ways I hadn’t even thought of before this. Honestly, I thought I had tapped all the options out. I share edifying messages, ask for prayer requests, comment on things that are important to my friends. I thought that was about it as far as options for edification through social media was concerned.
But it’s not. We, as a community of believers, can edify one another through Facebook too, just as we do on this blog. And people will watch – intently. It may make them sick sometimes – but they will watch.
I think we should make Facebook become a Gracebook. Specifically, personally, relationally. Sure, it’s great to share verses, and messages and images of Christ on there, we need to keep doing that! But we need to step up and show folks that Christians are actually real people who can be NICE to each OTHER.
On my Facebook page the other day, I actually suggested we have a Gracebook day on Monday. Hardly anyone responded.
So…if you wish to, please find me on Facebook and “friend” me. Maybe, eventually, we can try to have at least one “Gracebook” day if enough of us join in. On this blog site, you can find the blog’s facebook page, but please look me up (just Anne) and friend me personally too. I would be honored and privileged to have you as my friend on Facebook as well as through our blogging community.
You can find me under Anne Basile Birkelo – here’s a shortcut to my page where you can see my name in the upper left corner – https://www.facebook.com/#!/
Keep loving one another, friends. And keep searching for ways to speak the truth, show the love, and pour on the grace (with just a bit of salt here and there as the Lord so leads).
Be Blessed today, and remember: Christ is Alive – as much today as He was the day He left that tomb! And He is coming back – hopefully soon.
Come, Lord Jesus, Come!
“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage
one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:25