I Wanna Be Where the People Are
Think back for a minute: Why did you initially join social media, such as Facebook or Instagram?
I did it because I wanted to be connected to my friends. I wanted to stay in touch even with those who were out of town or overseas. I’d imagine many of my friends joined for the same reason.
But at some point, there was a subtle change to the atmosphere. It no longer became about just staying connected with friends and loved ones. Somehow it became a platform for not only sharing our millions of opinions, but trying to convince others why they are wrong and we are right and they should think just like us.
This kind of communication doesn’t generally go over well at the hairdresser or the family dinner table. Strangely enough, it doesn’t go over well on social media, either. Especially if you share opinions that the owners of said social media platforms disagree with. Nobody likes being told they are wrong.
Now, many conservatives are leaving in droves and going to other platforms where they will be surrounded by like-minded people. They will (they hope) no longer be censored, and there’s the added bonus of rarely, if ever, having to see a political opinion post that they disagree with. They feel they are sending a message to Mr. Zuckerberg, and others, that they disagree with being censored and they don’t like the direction that the platform has taken. What was once a platform for connecting and staying in touch with friends and family has now imploded and become a space where many conservative Christians don’t feel “safe”, because they want to discuss their political views freely.
Let’s face it: we are offended. We are concerned that our American rights are being taken away and we want everyone to know that is NOT okay. And we are ultimately willing to sacrifice our relationships and connections in order to make sure that we get this message across.
So, we go off and create a little bubble that is filled with people exactly like us. Meanwhile…
Who remains with the masses to speak life? Who remains to release love? Who remains to give hope?
As we segregate ourselves, we will become more and more out of touch with the vast variety of people and relationships in our lives that we once cared about. All that will remain will be the people we agree with. I don’t know about you, but for me the number of people I agree with dwindles all the time. In fact, I can’t think of a single person on the planet that I agree with, 100%, on everything, all the time.
Since when did we make agreeing with people our basis for loving them?
Jesus himself said that we are to love and speak with everyone, not just those who are like us. If they persecute us, we not only love them, but pray for them, too.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. – Matthew 5:43-48
Is anyone praying for Mr. Zuckerberg? Is anyone praying for the presidential candidate of the party they did not vote for?
I heard God say this morning that there is a battle raging over the airwaves and all forms of media. What will they be used for? Division, or unity? Life, or death? If God’s people leave the airwaves, who will be there to speak life? Speaking politics does not bring life. Release love, and you release life.
God’s people are called to a higher standard. He’s inviting us to leave the rabble of disunity and squabbling over earthly things and to come up higher, where our focus is on the kingdom of heaven.
We must quit thinking that it is our job to stand up for our rights. Is God not a righteous judge? Does He not seek justice on behalf of the truly oppressed? Let’s be very careful that we are not making God into our own image by assigning to Him what we think He should do or care about. A lot of us assume that God’s priority is to make sure our civil government provides all the human rights that keep us comfortable. But who’s to say that allowing a loss of rights and greater persecution for the American church is not part of His plan to move the American church from lukewarm to fiery hot?
God is jealous for the attention of His people. Over the last year, we have been a bit like a fish that bites every baited hook it sees. Every distraction satan has served up, we’ve taken the bait. We’ve gotten into skirmishes over every little thing we disagree with, but He’s calling us to come up higher. God will eventually judge all those who promoted injustice on the earth. But His word tells us that mercy triumphs over judgement. Where is the mercy of His people? Where is our mercy? Where are the people who want nothing more than to look like Jesus? Where are those who care more about relationships than rights?
Jesus never once stood up for his rights. And he could have. He deserved to. But he did not, because he knew the persecution and injustice He suffered was serving a greater purpose, a greater move of God, than simply avoiding pain or discomfort for himself.
God’s kids keep bickering and complaining about earthly things when there is a world full of hungry, hurting, starving people (figuratively and literally) that He has called us to save. I just keep hearing this invitation from Him to “come up higher”; to stop squabbling with the chickens when we could be flying with the eagles. Let’s stop allowing offense into our hearts over politics, disagreements, wrongs, and our “rights”.
Do not think for one moment that He has not called His people to love. Yes, we are called to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, bring hope to the hopeless and defend the cause of the oppressed. We can do all these things, but if we don’t have love, we have nothing.
I can hear the Father calling for a resurrection of love in His people. Love for each other, and love for the lost. We will not agree with the lost. We will often not even agree with each other. But,
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! (1 Corinthians 13:4-9 NLT)
What if we were to be just as passionate about reclaiming the airwaves for LOVE as we have been about fighting for our rights? What if we saw social media not as a battlefield, but as a field that is ripe for harvest, full of people who need the hope and peace of Jesus? What if we began to see it as a place that is not all about US, but about THEM? What if we challenged ourselves to a personal campaign of posting something positive and loving on a regular basis? What if we committed to praying before we post anything, to make sure we’re promoting the Father’s heart, rather than our own agenda?
Social media – the one place it’s still easy to gather these days – is truly a field that is ripe for harvest. Let’s stop looking at it as a place to promote our political opinions and start realizing that it’s where all the people are. People who represent God’s very heartbeat. People that God loves and is calling to Himself. People who are desperate for light in the darkness.
So, while many of my friends are leaving mainstream social media, I am staying.
It’s where the people are.