Listen to the words of Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount applied directly to our online and social media interactions in this 4-part series. Let all who have ears to hear, listen and follow. Here’s part 2.
TRANSCRIPT: Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Matt 5-7 with my adaptations in [brackets].
21-22 “You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister [on social media] is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ [on Facebook] and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister [via Twitter] and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.
23-24 “This is how I want you to conduct yourself [on social media]. If you If you [show up to church on Sunday] and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you [because of an awkward or offensive Facebook exchange], abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend [in person, face to face!] and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.
25-26 “Or say you’re [on Twitter or Facebook] and an old enemy [rips you to shreds in the comments thread]. Don’t lose a minute. Make the first move; make things right with him. After all, if you leave the first move to him, knowing his track record, you’re likely to end up in [a lawsuit], maybe even jail. If that happens, you won’t get out without a stiff fine.
27-28 “You know the next commandment pretty well, too: ‘Don’t go to bed with another’s spouse.’ But don’t think you’ve preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks [at profile photos and online images] you think nobody notices—they also corrupt.
29-30 “Let’s not pretend this is easier than it really is. If you want to live a morally pure life [on social media and the internet], here’s what you have to do: You have to blind your right eye the moment you catch it in a lustful leer. You have to choose to live one-eyed or else be dumped on a moral trash pile. And you have to chop off your right hand the moment it causes you to stumble.
Better a bloody stump than your entire being discarded for good in the dump.
33-37 “And don’t say anything you don’t mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions….
You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk [on Facebook], saying, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ [in a comment] and never doing it, [or “Liking” something] or saying, ‘God be with you,’ and not meaning it. You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your [posts and comments] sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When you manipulate words to get [more likes and traffic] you go wrong.
38-42 “Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back [with a heated, defensive verbal comeback] at all.’ If someone [posts something offensive or hurtful], stand there and take it. If someone drags you into [a nasty comment thread] and [and strips you of your dignity, don’t meet that at their level and instead speak kindly in return]. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live [and conduct yourself online] generously.
43-47 “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let [their tweets and posts] bring out the best in you, not the worst. When [that obnoxious, opinionated online troll] gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves.
This is what God does. [He “likes” and sends ‘Friend Requests’ to everyone]: the good and bad [bloggers], the nice and nasty [Tweeters]. If all you do is love [those who like all your posts], do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who [Facebook message] you, do you expect a medal? Any run- of-the-mill sinner does that.
48 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up [in your online interactions]! You’re kingdom people]. Now live like it [on social media.] Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”