Social Media and the Internet in general is an interesting place. We have access to a plethora of information. We also have available to us more opinions on that information than we know what to do with. Particularly Social Media gives everyone a soapbox. Currently, I am trying to establish my own little soapbox through this blog. I am trying to guard it from becoming a place where I spew venom and hate. It is easy to focus on the negative. I had this epiphany moment the other day. I was picking up a wet towel off the floor, that one of my teenagers had left stuffed behind the door in the bathroom. I usually yell at whoever I think is the guilty party and tell them to pick it up and couple it with the phrase that they never pick up after themselves. Sometimes, they blame me for their lack of follow through. The will say something like, “I hung it up yesterday and you never noticed.” And so they conclude why bother. As I hung up the towel, I thought to myself, “why don't I notice good behaviour more?” I concluded that good behaviour is harder to notice, because for the most part we think it should be the norm. The negative, in contrast, screams out for attention. It is much easier to point out the negative than it is to lovingly respond to a situation.
It is easy to be a hater. There is lots in our society to hate and be mad at. Social Media gives you an opportunity to express your opinion forcefully to anyone and everyone who will listen. You can do it very simply as well, for the most part you don't even have to think. I find someone else, who has expressed my opinion and I share it, Click, click and it's done. You can spout off opinions on current movies, you can vilify non-vaccinators, you can say we need to wipe out the infidels before they wipe us out, and on and on. You may even think that your opinion is right and you might be. The problem is that even truth, if it is not expressed within the context of love can be hurtful, divisive and judgemental.
There were a couple groups of people in scripture deeply committed to discovering and living out truth. They were the teacher's of the law (Jewish) and Pharisees. They were both groups that very serious about sin and holiness, but Jesus recognized their potential to become haters. John chapter 8, in the Bible, tells of an interaction that Jesus has with them.
At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
In this passage of scripture Jesus interacting with some haters. They wouldn't have considered themselves to be such. They would have thought themselves to be concerned about the well-being of society. Whatever the case, the mob had formed, and they had all grabbed their stones. I always think it is funny that they only bring one individual to Jesus for the sin of adultery, a sin you can't commit by yourself, but that is a story for another day. From a scriptural standpoint, the crowd is right. Adultery is a sin, punishable by death by stoning; that was the truth. So, they had picked up there stones of judgement and were ready to let them fly. They are just waiting for the word, but Jesus is interested in something different, something deeper. He desires to express love in this instance. He sees what is truly important and valuable.
In a moment of sheer brilliance, he shifts the crowds focus away from the woman and the crime, to their own behaviour and personal responsibility. He tells the crowd, after doodling in the sand, that if they have no sin they can throw the stones. Thankfully they all realized , that no one then has the right to throw a rock. Jesus then steps in and helps minister to a person, a real human being with real feelings ,emotions and needs.
Social media posts can be like rocks. They can be full of judgement, often times mixed with hate and/or indifference. The individuals who receive these posts are real people, with real needs. Jesus taught that are guiding principle was to be love. Our words and actions are to be loving. So much so, that the world should know that we are followers of Jesus, by our love for one another.
So before you post that article, before you share that opinion or before you express that thought, ask yourself this question is that a stone in your hand or is that love in your heart?