James

Don’t Fuel the Fire

Dear church,

As we come careening into the upcoming election, the public discourse is going to reach levels of toxicity we’ve never seen. As Christians, we are called to be a holy people—that is, “set apart” from the culture around us. I want to share some Scriptures and pastoral counsel to help us honor and represent Christ and His Kingdom well.

First, I’m urging all to get off of Facebook and social media altogether if possible. At the very least, limit your exposure, stop “liking” partisan ads and sharing memes, and realize there are sophisticated “bots” and algorithms at work that are listening to your conversations (if you have Siri, for example, your microphone is always on and the “bots” are listening).  You are being fed only content that reinforces a very narrow view of reality and prevents you from engaging thoughtful Christians of other viewpoints.  

Second, let us seek to be a breath of fresh air with our words, not fire breathing dragons. As the wildfires burn uncontrollably across the west, we do well to ponder the fiery warning and wisdom of James, Jesus’ brother, about “taming the tongue”:

“It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell. This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth! My friends, this can’t go on.” (James 3:5-12 MSG) 

If you choose to remain on Facebook, then let me offer a challenge instead. Before every post, ask if you are wishing ALL well (blessing) or looking down on “the other” (cursing) by your message. Are you throwing more fuel on the fire, or helping douse the flames with the peace-making water of the Spirit? To paraphrase Jesus, “What good is it if we gain many ‘likes’ and applause from our tribe by what we post, if we are losing touch with our soul-in-Christ in the process?” 

God has given the church one main task on earth: to live in such a way that puts Christ’s love and Kingdom values on display for all to see. We are billboards for Christ, so what are people concluding about Christians when they read what we post? Until next time, let’s take these words to heart:

Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing. (Phil 1:14-16 MSG)

“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Prov 12:18 NIV) 

“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Prov 16:24 NIV) 

Grace and peace in Christ,

Pastor Jeremy

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