Posted in discernment, social media, witness

The Pros and Cons of Social Media for the Christian

I’m a lay person, a Christian woman, who happens to write. I’ve made my living from writing in the past and I’m thrilled to be able to use the talent God gave me for His glory now writing in a Christian context.

I’m older, 55 years of age, and I distinctly remember life before internet. For a writer wanting to publish, bumping up against the monoliths of the Madison Avenue publishing companies, and the chokehold of the magazines and literary journals, (and the publishing rejection letters) having a free platform in which to share one’s thoughts and words with the world was a revelation. I took to it instantly and with glee, going online in 1996 and becoming an Amazon.com customer in 1997. Finally, an equalizing global conversation could be had.

I don’t think young people have a well-developed sense of just what a privilege it is to have global access to speaking one’s mind on any topic. I pointedly remember the frustration of rejection letter after rejection letter, of seeking the underground, mimeographed ‘zines as they were called then, of a regular person not having a voice. Or seeing the ones with voices squander them or limit them or censor them. Conglomerates purported to speak for the masses, and more often they didn’t, but their lobbyist money did speak to the corruption. Journalists were supposed to speak for the voiceless but more often they were kowtowing to Corporate. Benjamin Franklin felt the same frustration so he started his own papers and printed them on his own presses. The Second Amendment gave the promise of free speech, but never made any promises about how or where. No platforms were ever promised. That, one had to figure out for one’s self.

Of course all those words back then were important in the civic or personal/creative realms, but were wind and chaff to God because they were not for His glory.

I converted to Christianity late in life at around age 43-45 (who knows the exact moment the Holy Spirit gripped me, God knows). Until then I’d been occupied with writing for my weekly newspaper and curating its online version. When I sold the paper in 2006 and moved down south I needed to fill the void left by not writing intensively, so I started my personal blog The Quiet Life in August of that year. It’s hard to believe it’s coming up on nearly 10 years since I founded it. What a joy to play with the Layout format, press ‘publish’ and one’s thoughts and words could be seen by the world. Of course, back in 2004-2006 blogging exploded and there were a million blogs starting a day, it seemed. How to make one’s own blog rise to the top amid the sea of cacophonous voices also clamoring to be heard was something left to one’s creative problem solving. Now we had the platform, but how to make people listen…

Social media pinwheel. Source Wikipedia

As the Holy Spirit solidified my faith and grew me in sanctification, I founded this blog in January 2009, and once again it’s hard to believe it’s been nearly 7 years since then. Though I write intermittently on The Quiet Life I am committed to using the gift of writing and proclamation and exhortation for the Lord and I’ve been faithful to write daily on this blog since the beginning. Though I’ve been writing longer at The Quiet Life and there are 70 pages over there, there’s double the amount here, 140 pages, containing about 3,500 essays. And fortunately, I don’t have to stress over about whom to make listen. The Holy Spirit takes care of disseminating the message to whom He desires.

I joined Facebook in 2008, and joined Twitter then also. This year I added another Facebook page, The End Time. Online newspapers and journals enabled comment sections. People from the great to the small posted their email address, allowing direct conversation. Cell phones, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Flickr, Podcasts…Suddenly, there were platforms everywhere and it seemed like the cacophony grew but so did the possibilities for getting the Gospel out.

The question today is, just because social media exists, does that mean it is wise, profitable, or even safe to enter the fray?

All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. (1 Corinthians 6:12)

That is a question for each Christian to answer and there are different considerations if one is a parent, a missionary, or is living under a restrictive regime or just to personally consider in the face of doing our utmost for His highest (to paraphrase O. Chambers).

Here are some thoughts in my experience, in my opinion, and remember I’m just one lay-woman with a small sphere of influence. There have been pros and cons with being so present on social media. Just as with anything, there are considerations and there are joys.

  • I am a single woman so there are safety issues with being too open.
  • Yet I feel compelled to be truthful and transparent, openly proclaiming the message to as many as possible.
  • If The Lord allowed the internet to be invented then I resolve to use it to the best of my ability to honor Him and spread His message.
  • Yet there are also a great many temptations to sin with my mind and with my mouth (typing fingers) and present a poor witness.
  • I have stumbled before in being so present online.
  • Yet when I sadly do, it presents more opportunities to repent, grow, obey and rely on Him- and to be mindful next time.
  • Seeing before me in living color so vividly the woes and successes of fellow believers; and being accountable to an online community of believers widens my perspective and reminds me of how large His body really is.
  • It presents a tendency to want to focus on just the virtual believers to the exclusion of those in real life.
  • When someone is encouraged by something I’ve written, it offers a high uncomparable to any other.
  • When someone in the next pew is encouraged by something I’ve said, it offers a high uncomparable to any other.
  • People online can be mean, nasty, and hide behind cowardly anonymous comments. Combating their effects can steal your joy and re-direct your energy better used in other ways.
  • People in real life can be mean, nasty, and hide behind cowardly gossipy comments. Combating their effects can steal your joy and re-direct your energy better used in other ways.

So, you see, the pros and cons are similar to laboring in any other medium or any other sphere. No better, no worse, just different considerations to consider.

Unlike other people who have expressed distrust or disdain over social media use to share a holy Christian witness, I don’t believe social media is the devil. It is merely a vehicle into which we can pour our energy and message depending on what the Lord has called us to do. Some pour their message into children through motherhood. Others who are not called to motherhood became missionaries and brought the message to orphans overseas. Some who were writers without the advantage of social media got the message out anyway using the vehicles of their own day- hymns.

“The medium is the message” is a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan, meaning that the form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived. …Extending the argument for understanding the medium as the message itself, he proposed that the “content of any medium is always another medium – thus, the content of writing is speech, print is that of writing and print itself is the content of the telegraph.

McLuhan understood “medium” in a broad sense. He identified the light bulb as a clear demonstration of the concept of “the medium is the message”. A light bulb does not have content in the way that a newspaper has articles or a television has programs, yet it is a medium that has a social effect; that is, a light bulb enables people to create spaces during nighttime that would otherwise be enveloped by darkness. He describes the light bulb as a medium without any content. McLuhan states that “a light bulb creates an environment by its mere presence.”(source)

So be mindful of the medium you choose to employ to spread God’s message, from your own tongue in real life to the cold virtual reality of a laptop keyboard, to… whatever else. As a matter of fact I’ve always held that the internet is one of the world’s great inventions. The Gospel message can be disseminated in podcast, tract, devotional, online bible, visually through art and animation, Youtube, the ancient writers’ work is spoken alive online to new generations or can be read anew for those who can’t afford the precious tomes but can afford the lower price of an online connection or even free at a library. Wow!

Through online blogs and sermons and devotionals I was strengthened by John MacArthur’s preaching and discovered the Puritans and Reformers. I connected with solid doctrine at The Master’s Seminary and learned of Paul Washer’s fire. I learned that I, too, had a platform that may strengthen even one woman seemed too good an opportunity to pass up- as long as I kept my priorities straight. But that’s like any ministry, it’s life, isn’t it? It is all a struggle and no matter the sphere or means the Lord provides, the devil will attempt to corrupt it.

So make your decisions about social media with your husband or pastor or family. Decide how “out there” you feel led to be, and which means to use. Elisabeth Eliot, Gladys Aylward, Eliza Spurgeon, Fanny Crosby, Katharina von Bora (Mrs Martin Luther) all used the means at their disposal and through obedience to the Lord to influence those in their spheres. How large or small or what that means the Lord will use through you within that sphere is a personal decision. But don’t let scary stories or condescension about social media taint your view of how useful it can be to getting the message out there. Just be safe, be wise, and the Lord will take care of the rest.

Posted in forgiveness, free grace, irresistible grace, justification, robe of righteousness, salvation, witness, wrath

Mr Lamb’s Robe Store

Scene, busy shopping mall. It’s so large that many people are lost. They look at the map in the central courtyard with the dot “you are here,” but many still don’t know which way to go. Others become distracted by the many choices. Still others sit in the courtyard just lazing away the day.

In a nearby clothing shop, two people browse the racks of robes on a rounder. They are called Sinner and Saved. Saved is a salesperson, trained and ready to explain any aspect of anything about the robes on display.

Saved: May I help you?
I think I would like one of these robes, they’re so white and beautiful. Are they silk?
They’re fine flax, plus other threads extremely rare and unique because they’re imported from a remote location.
It looks shimmery…
That’s because the Light reflects on it, through it, and off it. Some call this garment “Woven Moonlight” from the Grace line. It comes with a lifetime guarantee. It will never wear out.
That would be something, I hate going to the store to buy robe after robe. No robe I buy ever seems to last and I always end up cold and chilly in my house.
So, would you like one?
I don’t think I can afford it.
You can. It’s free.
No way! You mean just get one, put it on and walk out of here?
Yes, but there is something you need to do first before it can be put on.
I knew there would be a catch. You’re probably going to tell me I have to work for you for fifty years or something, like an indentured servant.
No, there’s no works involved.
Where are the lawyers, you’ll have me arrested if I take one for free.
The owner of this store has plenty of robes and is perfectly willing to give them away. There is no Legalism here.
I’ll get back to the robe in a minute, but I want to know this. Who in his right mind would give away his inventory? How does he stay in business? This is crazy!
I agree, it is unusual. There is no other store in the world which does this. This is certainly an exclusive shop.
But how can the owner stay in business?
He is extremely wealthy. And he wants to share his wealth. Again this is unusual. No other store owner in the world gives freely and doesn’t take.
Wait, I thought you said there was a catch. What is it?
No catch, but you do have to say you’re sorry before you can put on one of these exclusive robes.
Say I’m sorry for what???
For all your crimes against the owner of this store.
Whatchoo you talking about? I never done nothing to this guy!
Well, you have. If you ever even took a paperclip home from work, you’ve been stealing.
What does that have to do with the owner of this store?
He owns the paper clip. He owns everything. I told you he is very wealthy.
I knew this was too good to be true, I’m leaving.

Sinner leaves and walks to the next store. He is gone for hours. Eventually, he returns.

Ah, sir, so glad to see you again. What brings you back into our exclusive store?
I looked at every other robe in the mall. None are as good as this one. Once I saw the white gossamer shimmering threads, so delicate but so strong, I knew that no other could compare. Tell me more about this garment being free but having to be sorry first…
Well, you have committed crimes against the owner of this store, Mr Lamb, who owns the inventory of White Robes. Every time you stole, cheated, lied, even unknowingly, you sinned against Him. He owns all that is on the earth.
I’ve gotta know, who is this man?
He’s God.
God?! Like the Man Upstairs?
He is not a man, and though he is in heaven he is also on earth, in the form of His Spirit.
I think this God talk is kind of crazy but I admit His robes look different from all the others.
I’m wearing one.
You? You’re wearing regular clothes.
Yes but have you ever heard of layaway? My robe is on deposit, the Spirit is the deposit of the guarantee of being given one when we get to heaven. You will inherit His wealth, and the robe comes with it. (Ephesians 1:14)
Doesn’t a dad have to die in order for the kids to inherit?
He already died. He sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins, paying the debt you racked up, and the debt of all mankind. (John 3:16). In addition, He endured all the Father’s wrath for these sins, poured out onto the Son. I mean didn’t your dad get angry when you messed up? (Romans 1:18)
LOL, he sure did. When I was a kid I took his keys and drove the car, and I crashed it. Cost him a lot of money. He was so mad he used his belt on me for the first and only time. It hurt. I still have the scar from one of the welts.
Well, imagine how angry the Father is over your crimes against Him, and though His anger is controlled, it is there and poured out on the Son on behalf of you. He bore your stripes so you can live right. (1 Peter 2:24). The Son died. He sure did. However the good news is, He didn’t stay dead. Satisfied with His Son’s sacrifice, God resurrected the Son to eternal life.
Who is the Son?
Jesus.
I knew it, you’re a Jesus freak!
That I am, proclaiming His excellencies to call you from darkness to his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9).
When I was looking at all the other robes I was thinking about the paper clip. You know, um, I have done worse than taking a paper clip. A lot worse. When I committed them I didn’t know he was the owner of all the earth. (Psalm 24:1).
Well, you did. Just looking at the creation makes you know He created it. (Romans 1:19)
OK, you got me. I guess I lied again just then. I am surely without excuse. (Romans 1:20). What a miserable human being I am. I thought I felt bad before looking at the other robes, which suddenly looked like filthy rags next to this one, (Isaiah 64:6) but now I feel terrible seeing myself next to it. (Isaiah 6:5). I’m hopeless.
Yes, you are- out there. (Amos 5:20). In here, you have the deposit guaranteed, the robe of righteousness, the Spirit in you to strengthen you, Jesus to look forward to, and all hope and all wealth. As a matter of fact, all things will be yours, including eternal life. (Romans 8:24).

A rotten tomato splats against the store window, dripping down, with some youth running away shouting, “Your store is stupid and so are you!”

A few women wander in, but they stop only inches inside the threshold. One says, “This place smells horrible! Like garbage! And the clothes are all weird and shiny. Let’s go, Myrtle. We can check out the store that has grey robes. I hear they’ve got 50 shades of them!” They hustle out.

Sinner says,
Why’d they do that? You’re just standing here, minding your own business!

That happens a lot. Pay no mind. We don’t bother to fight against flesh and blood, but fight against what drives them. It’s their conscience. “For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.” (Romans 2:14-16). With you, your thoughts are accusing. With them, they are trying to defend themselves and so they lash out.
Accuse is a good word. I feel a great heaviness on me because of all the wrong I’ve done. The more I look at the robe the more I see myself as a sinful man. (Luke 5:8). I couldn’t get it out of my mind these past few hours. (Romans 2:15). As much as I didn’t want to come back in here, I felt like I had to. (Ephesians 2:1–10).
You’re almost ready for a robe, I think. I’ll go get one in your size. While I’m gone, why don’t you speak with the Owner, and tell Him how you feel?
You mean on the phone? Or an intercom?
Just speak with your mouth, He will hear you. (Romans 10:9).

A few minutes go by. When the salesman returns, the Sinner is beaming.
I talked with Mr Lamb! He heard me, I know He did. He said He forgives me of my crimes against Him. There were a lot. Once I got going I hadn’t realized how many times I broke Mr Lamb’s law. But He said He would throw my sins away as far as the east is from the west. He said I’d receive a robe when I get there. He said I might have to pay for my past sins, endure the consequences you know, but He would always be with me and never forsake me. I believe Him I believe it down to my bones.
That’s wonderful! I’m so pleased!
You know, this is so weird. This place is right in the mall but I’d never seen it before today. I come here every week but I never saw it. And the owner is rich but wiling to give it all to us. He doesn’t make money, he gives it. He covers us with his garment which was made at great expense and gives it away free. All we have to do is be sorry for our sins and believe in His death, burial and resurrection. I can’t believe my whole life I thought Mr Lamb as a jerk.
That’s because you’re a new creation now. The Spirit is already inside you, helping you. He is the Helper. He’ll strengthen you in faith, change you from the woeful man you were into the righteous man you are now and will become. (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Hey I’ve got to tell this news to my family. I’ll come back and we’ll talk more, OK?
Sure, Godspeed!

Sinner Child of God knew exactly what to do and exactly where to go before he headed home. The bible store …