Yesterday, after a wonderful Sunday morning, I received an email from a young mother with a handful of children. Her health is greatly compromised, which puts her in the high-risk category for the Coronavirus and therefore her doctors have advised her to avoid large gatherings. This obviously affects not just her but her entire family. However, one of her children is at a critical age and needs Christian fellowship and to be under God’s Word. What is a young mother to do? Before you answer, consider what she encounters as she scans Facebook. Many folks fearing their liberties are being taken away, lash out in anger declaring they’ll never wear a mask. Others ridicule people who wear masks, telling them “they’re living in fear and lacking faith.” Or worse yet, that “they’ve gone liberal.” How did wearing a mask get politized?
As I read her email, I was grieved to hear of her compromised health and I was disheartened to hear that a sister-in-Christ has felt marginalized and the sense of unity she has always felt with the Body, has been jeopardized due to the venom that gets so easily spewed through social media, including by some Christians.
What can this young mother do? She’s concerned for her child’s spiritual health and her physical health. I will tell you what she does: She puts her child’s needs above her own, even though it puts her at greater risk. She or her husband drop their child off at church, where this young person, washes their hands, puts a mask on and does their best to fellowship with God’s people while practicing social distancing to protect the health of their mom.
What can you do? Let me offer three practical suggestions.
- Consider Limiting Your Use of Social Media: One of the questions I often ask myself regarding Facebook is this: ‘Am I using Facebook or is Facebook using me?’ Am I using Facebook to maintain relationships over distance, and for the good of the Gospel, or is all the angst, anger and gossip of our culture that is presented on Facebook using me to marginalize a brother or sister in the Lord, demean others created in God’s Image and unwittingly causing division within the Body of Christ? Oftentimes all the slander, anger, and misinformation that people spit out are worse viruses than COVID itself. If you are particularly upset about wearing a mask indoors or find yourself constantly agitated and angered through your use of social media, it might be time to put a muzzle on your keyboard (Prov. 10:19).
- Consider Increasing Your Time of Prayer: Did you know that in United States, the average adult spends over 2 hours per day on different social media platforms? This is why John Piper (over a decade ago) famously (and ironically) tweeted, “One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.” If you just cut in half the amount of time that the average person spends on social media per day, that would enable you to increase your time of prayer by over an hour per day. Would that be a good use of your time? YES! What could you pray for? Unity in the Body of Christ! This is the very thing Jesus prayed for the night before He was crucified (John 17). Unity in the Body of Christ here at TCF is far more important than the political undercurrents of the COVID crisis and unity and spiritual health is essential for the ongoing work of the Gospel in our region. So, by limiting use of social media, you can increase your time of prayer for the unity, health and the ongoing work of the Gospel. That’s a win-win.
- Consider Following Your Lord’s Example: Paul in Romans 15:1-7 exhorts the Christians in Rome to accept one another, to bear with one-another rather than to live selfishly, seeking only their own good. And where does he find the grounds for his exhortation? In the example of Christ. Paul writes, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”
As we follow in Christ’s example and seek not please ourselves, but to bear the burdens of others, we will be able to live in genuine harmony with one another and with one mind and one voice glorify the Lord!