The use of this word in my mind comes in two different forms. Firstly, as something fun to divert one’s attention from the daily grind and provide relief, and secondly, a military tactic used to keep the enemy from noticing your true target. I’m guilting of falling for both of these.
When I get to the end of a stressful or long day, the seemingly best idea is to veg out on the couch and spend some quality time with my best friend, Netflix. Sometimes we are joined by my phone, which provides endless mindless scrolling and swiping activities. I am thusly diverted from the activities that would actually bring life and refreshment to me (reading, praying, journaling, tidying, and, yes, even working out).
Amidst the endless scrolling and swiping, there’s no shortage of technological socialization, whether it’s joining in the, “Awww!” at a cute puppy video or finding a debate about any possible topic. And maybe it’s just me, but it seems the debates have become more frequent, more disrespectful, and more ugly. I have seen so many people getting sucked into these “discussions,” and I’m not saying that I am absent from this. I have topics where I get riled up and feel the need to prove why my opinion is the correct one, just as anyone else.
But what’s the point? I see the point of discussing different opinions with an open mind to gain understanding or perspective. I encourage it. I grew up rather ignorant in my content little bubble and have learned a lot by leaving that bubble for college and for work in my adult life; I’m deeply appreciative for it. But what I see on the social media platforms among my friends is stubborn, misguided, anger-filled messages of hate stemming from a judgmental attitude. And quite honestly, it makes me sad to see such negativity spread unchecked like a wildfire, particularly from my brothers and sisters in Christ.
It led me to wonder if it does any good. Then this verse came to mind: “Don’t let them waste their time in endless discussion of myths and spiritual pedigrees. These things only lead to meaningless speculations, which don’t help people live a life of faith in God. The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. But some people have missed this whole point. They have turned away from these things and spend their time in meaningless discussions.” 1 Timothy 1:4-6 NLT
I confess: I am tempted here and now to express certain opinions about the NFL protests… REALLY really tempted… Or we could even begin a political discussion of how the media is getting us to focus on North Korea or the new medicare bill, whichever best suits their agenda that day. Did you know that a church was attacked last weekend? I only happened to hear about it by chance on the radio, and, to my limited knowledge, it wasn’t covered by the major news streams.
My friends, there will always be something to argue about. But we are allowing ourselves to be distracted by Satan from that which we are supposed to be doing. Our main objective is to tell people about Jesus. In case you doubt that, check out Matthew 28:18-20. If your Facebook post isn’t going to show the love of Jesus in you and towards others, don’t post it. If your argument/debate with your coworker isn’t showing the love of Jesus in you and towards others, don’t argue it. Yes, swallow your pride (I’m preaching to myself here, too, people).
The church I served at during my college years had a saying that you heard often as we tried to embed it into every aspect of the ministries done there as well as our personal spiritual growth. As I am someone who likes to keep things simple, I share it with you:
Serve the world.
Jesus told His closest disciples at the Last Supper, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35 (NLT) It’s not your patriotism, not your arguments, not your social justice, not your church attendance record, not your book collection, your love.
My friends, I know this world is not an easy place to live in. But the truth I daresay is that it never has been. Solomon observed, albeit pessimistically, that there is nothing new under the sun. Terrible things are happening. Our God and King is not ignorant to our circumstances, on a personal, national, or global scale. Are you trusting in His sovereignty to handle it, or are you trusting in your own personal agenda?