I am in no way an expert, but want to make a few observances on things I have seen regarding blogs and other posts on social media sites. These are not comprehensive and situations differ based on the nature of an article, blog or comment. There are exceptions to every rule. But, these may help avoid some of the confusion and other difficulties I have seen recently.
Avoid “catchy” titles and/or opening remarks. These may get someone’s attention, but they can also mislead. We teach our guys at the BTSOP regularly that “words have meaning.” We must realize that a “catchy” word may cause someone to look, but they can also mislead and cause someone to stop reading because of a perceived “red flag.”
Define your terms early. If you don’t define your terms, you are inviting the reader to define them with his own definition. That may lead to your point being misunderstood and your being labeled in some fashion or other.
If error is taught, correct respectfully. I believe most of the writers I have read to be honest and sincere. If I catch someone in “error” and the first thing I do is “slap them in the face” that will not be conducive to their listening to what I have to say. Let us approach people in the best way we can to correct them if they are in error. Please note that I am not calling for comprise. Never! But, may we seek ways to effectively change minds. God’s word must be used, but our tone can have a major impact on such things.
Read the article in its entirety. Give someone a fair hearing. You may realize that you misconceived what had been written earlier if you read on. It may well be that something is stated later that sheds greater light on an earlier statement. Those writing should take great to be clear in their writing to avoid causing and/or adding to confusion.
When replying to statements, avoid “knee-jerk” reactions. Think through your response to them. Maybe investigate and give them a chance to explain. If they are teaching error, respond, but do so respectfully. Being respectful is not equated with compromise. We need to teach and defend the truth. But, let’s avoid having to “eat crow” because we jumped to a conclusion.
The internet is a great tool. Facebook and other forms of social media provide us a great opportunity to both teach and learn. Let us do so with diligence, honesty, integrity and concern for our brethren.
Once upon a time, Napoleon was approached by a son’s mother who asked him to pardon the son’s crime. Napoleon indicated the heinous nature of the crime that had been committed twice, indicating that justice demanded the death penalty. However, the mother indicated that she was not asking for justice, she was asking for mercy. At that point Napoleon granted mercy based on this mother’s request.
This story serves as an excellent illustration of the situation in which we all find ourselves. We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Justice would indicate that we deserve to die because of that sin. Sin, death and separation would all be due us, as it would be our fault.
Despite the situation in which man put(s) himself, God provides mercy. Mercy can be defined as the withholding of that which is due. In short, through His mercy, God does not give us what we deserve. How is this possible with a just God? Justice, as it relates to God, rewards the faithful and punishes the sinner. How can God do this and maintain the attributes that make Him God? The answer is two-fold. First, God loves us and that love motivated Him to act on our behalf. Then, He provided that which necessary to satisfy His wrath; He sent His Son to die in our place (Rom. 5:6-8). In the vicarious death of Christ, God’s wrath/justice is served and mercy is extended through that blood.
We sing a great song, “Love Lifted Me.” When we were in sin, the love of God, manifested in His mercy, “lifted” us from the fate due our rejection of His will. May we reflect often on what has been done on our behalf that we may enjoy a heavenly reward.
Note: The illustration of Napoleon was borrowed from a sermon by Justin Imel)
The church, throughout the New Testament, is described as the body of Christ. This is true in form as well as in function. Bodies are designed to live, act and work. It is natural for the body to function in such a way as to promote life tomorrow. We must see that the same is true for the Lord’s church.
Our own bodies have enemies that threaten our well-being. These can be internal or external in nature. Internally, we are concerned with viruses and diseases that can harm the body. Cancer is a major enemy that has affected many. We can also be harmed externally, either by accidents or by those who intentionally wish to bring us harm.
The church has similar enemies. There have been those down through the years who have attempted to eradicate the church. This has come in the form of governments, individuals and other religious groups. However, our greatest enemies, and often the most overlooked, are those internal enemies having the capability of destroying the body.
One of the major ways to avoid defeat at the hands of an enemy is that of being aware of who or what our enemies are and the threat they pose. Ignorance, unbelief and apathy are just a few of the things of which any congregation must be aware as they contemplate the health and safety of the local body. A “blanket” enemy to be considered is sin. Satan does not want Christians, either individually or collectively, to be successful. He doesn’t want us to win. We must take great precautions to avoid the enemies that have been effective in ruining works and destroying congregations. We have been promised victory. We must simply seize that which has been provided, through God’s word, to secure that victory.