Encouragement From The Word

When two worlds collide

One of the redeeming qualities of Facebook is finding out that you have two friends from different parts and times of your life that know each other.  This sometimes gets seen in birthday greetings, a factor that keeps me interested in social media (Facebook birthdays are awesome!).

I found out this week, through offering Facebook birthday greetings to a friend I met while helping her church find a new pastor many years ago, that she is related to the husband of a friend with whom I went to high school.  It’s amazing to see two worlds collide like that!

As followers of Jesus, though, we’re used to the notion of two worlds colliding.  We live and breathe that reality every day.

All human beings are born into and live in the world we know and see around us.  When we come to faith in Jesus, we are adopted into God’s family, and become citizens of his Kingdom.  So it’s a bit like being someone who was born in one country but works in another: while you live in one nation, your usual rights and privileges exist in another.  But they’re still in the same world, so the analogy breaks down.

As Christians, where our two worlds collide in the more literal sense is in the area of values.  There are some things that may be legal and permissible in the physical jurisdiction in which you live that are not permissible under the law of God’s Kingdom, and that’s where the collision takes place.  We are stretched by being pulled in one direction by the world, and in another direction by our understanding of the Word of God.

It is not an easy position.  Yet we find ourselves increasingly pulled in both directions as western society moves farther and farther away from its Christian foundation.

Since our first loyalty is to the Lord, who has graciously saved us by faith in his Son Jesus Christ, we do well to immerse ourselves in the reading of the Bible so that we can know how citizens of God’s Kingdom  should act.  And because it is not easy to swim against the current, we do well to immerse ourselves in Christian community so that we can encourage one another, especially when our two worlds collide and we are faced with challenging decisions.

Read the Word, because it’s God’s revelation to us.  And engage in Christian community, because we don’t just go to church; we are the church.  It’s now easier!  Perhaps in your community, as in mine, masks will be optional starting this Sunday.  

[W]e are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.  He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control” (Philippians 3.20-21, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word

I went to jail this week!

I had an interesting experience this week…I went to jail.

Don’t worry, though: I wasn’t remanded in custody for a crime.

I was in Facebook Jail.

It seems that the digital robotic algorithm which constantly monitors posts for things it has unilaterally decided are hateful, offensive, or against its ‘community standards’ picked off a meme I reposted from someone else and decided that it violated ‘community standards’.

I thought it was funny, and so did several other people.  In fact, I can’t imagine who would have found it anything but funny.  But the algorithm doesn’t share my sense of humour, apparently.  So I couldn’t post for 24 hours (probably not a bad idea anyway), and I can’t go ‘live’ or place an ad on Facebook for 30 days.  I guess this is the equivalent for getting 2 minutes for roughing and a game misconduct…from a blind referee.

Thankfully, I don’t rely on Facebook for anything except mild entertainment and the opportunity to post spiritual encouragement, so the repercussions are not life-altering for me.

It’s almost impossible to hit a moving target – which I deem Facebook’s algorithm to be – so I will have no idea whether what I post in the future will be targeted.  So I will have to be much more judicious in what I post.  It will mostly be ministry-related.  (Hopefully, they won’t start targeting Christians for spiritual things!)

I couldn’t find a means for appeal, but if I could, I would encourage Facebook to alter its algorithm so that it has at least a mild sense of humour.  After all, if we can’t laugh, especially at ourselves, life is not as rich.

Make sure you get in a good laugh today, even if it’s not at something I post on social media, because, as the Bible says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength” (Proverbs 17.22, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word

Being friends with God

There is a young woman in St. Paul’s Church, Nobleton named Tessia who is learning to lead worship.  The other day, she presented a reflection that I is320thought worthy of publication, and I share it with you with her permission.

Facebook.  As a teenager, this is one of the many important aspects of your life that needs to be active and perfected.  How do we do this, one may ask (who hasn’t spent their last few years in 21st century styles and trends)?  Well, there are many different things that are put into perspective when trying to create a perfect Facebook profile as a teenager.  What pictures do you put up?  What groups, music, and celebrities should you like?  What should you post on your wall?  And of course, who are your friends?

Being friends on Facebook, in our world, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re close in everyday life; most of the time, it just means you know each other.  I know people who have thousands of friends on Facebook but never have spoken a word to more than half.  But even so, there are some people whom others would publicly proclaim as their friend, even in Facebook language.

‘But what if God had a Facebook page?’ I once asked myself.  Who would ‘friend’ him?  Maybe some wouldn’t because they weren’t very close to him; others wouldn’t want to show all their friends that they had a relationship with the Lord, and some wouldn’t want him to see all the things they posted on their wall that didn’t honour his Word.

One of the things that astounds me about our Saviour is that he gave us recognition and sacrifice even though we don’t always declare our friendship with him to others.  Also, he didn’t die for our sins because we had an amazing relationship, either…he died because of his love for us, whether we pressed the CONFIRM button on the computer to his friend request or not.   And what is also mind-blowing is that when we accept his friendship, he doesn’t hate us because of what we have done wrong, but loves us and forgives us as his children.

I’m glad Tessia is a friend of God.  Are you?

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15.15, NIV).