Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘Social Media and the Word of the Lord’
© October 2, 2016 by Steve Mickelson
Announcements & Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #651 (The Holy Scriptures – 2 Peter 1, 2Timothy 3, Hebrews 4, Romans 15, Psalm 119, Isaiah 40); Prayer
Opening Hymn #392: Take Time to Be Holy
Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers
Today’s Scriptures: Isaiah 40:1-8, Matthew 22:36-40, John 1:19-34
Let us pray…
Welcome to BLCF Church’s Sunday Worship and Praise Service. As today is the first Sunday of October, we will be observing Communion. There is no requirement that you must be a member of BLCF in order to receive the elements of Communion.
To receive Communion, participants must be a member of the body known as Christ’s Church. This membership means that Jesus is your Lord and Savior, having confessed to Him that you are a sinner; and that Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins, was raised from the dead, ascended to heaven, sent God’s Holy Spirit as companion to all believers until the day He returns to judge all.
Our lesson today, entitled: Social Media and the Word of the Lord, we will examine some aspects of what we commonly refer to as social media. Social media today may include: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, any other media methodology that permits the user to communicate with others in real time.
Dennis Moles, author of the booklet: Being Jesus Online, Biblical Wisdom for a Wired World, published as part of Our Daily Bread Ministries’ Discover Series, attempted to answer the rhetorical questions:
“What would Jesus tweet? Would He have social media accounts? And if He did, what would He say and share? How would He relate to his ‘friends’ and “followers” and to those who disagreed with Him?”
Mr. Moles seemed to apply the old standard questions Christians are encouraged to apply to their conversations with others: “What would Jesus Say?” Or “What would Jesus do?” with respect to the content of what we express on social media conversations and postings. Moles basically indicated that we should conduct our social media conversations and postings under the same guidelines as how we would personally interact with other people, by asking whether what is posted demonstrated a love for God and a love for our neighbor, which is also known as Jesus’ Great Commandment, described in Matthew 22:36-40, where the Ten Commandments or Laws that God gave to Moses may be considered as expressions of love and honor to either God or your neighbor:
Matthew 22:36-40 (ESV)
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Dennis Moles indicated that anything we post on social media should be scrutinized to ensure that will not fail to demonstrate love to God and love to our neighbor. If it fails scrutiny, then it should not be posted.
With all due respect to Mr. Moles’ message, I chose to examine the questions,
“What would Jesus tweet? Would He have social media accounts? And if He did, what would He say and share? How would He relate to his ‘friends’ and “followers” and to those who disagreed with Him?” when applied to believers in the Resurrected Christ, sharing Jesus’s Great Commission of sharing the Lord’s Gospel unto the ends of the earth, as well as any other Scripture account.
My consideration is based more upon issues and limitations of the form of social media, than the content focus of Mr. Moles.
To examine an example of the form limitation, let us look at Twitter which has a size restriction to the Tweets or messages of a maximum of 140 characters.
Last Sunday’s lesson, ‘David Over Goliath: A Victory of Faith’, used the first 54 verses from 1 Samuel 17 to present the argument that David’s victory over Goliath happened because of the shared faith by both Saul and David, that God would accompany David to provide the victory in the same way He enabled David to succeed against the bear and lion. Imagine trying to express this Scripture passage in 140 characters or less. For that matter, imagine trying to condense all the lessons of the Bible, each one restricted to the limitations of a Tweet and make it comprehensible.
If it were possible, God would have chosen to inspire the Scriptures as such short segments. This would be like considering a movie preview tells the same story of the entire film or that a brief snippet from a speech expresses everything spoken in a one-hour speech.
The dramatic editing of a movie or speech results in a tremendous loss of intended message. In the same manner, shortening God’s Word not only changes the Scriptures meaning, it dishonors God by not conveying the complete message that the Lord intended to be expressed.
To understand the importance of keeping God’s Word unchanged and not abbreviated, let us look at Isaiah 40:1-8 (ESV):
Comfort for God’s People
40 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare[a] is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.
3 A voice cries:[b]
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
The Word of God Stands Forever
6 A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said,[c] “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty[d] is like the flower of the field.
7 The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.
Footnotes: a. Isaiah 40:2 Or hardship b. Isaiah 40:3 Or A voice of one crying c. Isaiah 40:6 Revocalization based on Dead Sea Scroll, Septuagint, Vulgate; Masoretic TextAnd someone says d. Isaiah 40:6 Or all its constancy
Not only would a 140 character Tweet fail to express this thought, Twitter has placed other restrictions on what we may Tweet.
If, for example, I decided to Tweet the same message: “Jesus Saves” to ten or more recipients, Twitter would intervene and warn that my Twitter messages, being worded the same, exhibit a behavior that Twitter considers SPAM-like in nature. If I continued sending identical messages, I risk suspension or cancellation of my Twitter account.
If I chose to randomly send 140 character Tweets out from my account, there is little likelihood that it would be read at all. I could choose to Tweet out a message containing a link to a site containing a sermon or longer message, but with the same unlikelihood of successfully being read, just like a futile “voice in the wilderness.”
Speaking of voices in the wilderness, Twitters cannot completely convey the words, beliefs, and actions of either John the Baptist or Jesus, as described in John 1:19-34 (ESV):
The Testimony of John the Baptist
19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight[a] the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”
24 (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) 25 They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26 John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, 27 even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” 28 These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
Behold, the Lamb of God
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son[b] of God.”
Even Facebook viewers of the above Scripture passage would not be inclined to read the above passage, because it far exceeds the length of the average post. And if I randomly messaged strangers by Twitter or Facebook messages, the recipients could complain to the respective administrators about receiving unsolicited SPAM-like messages and result in having the respective Twitter and Facebook accounts closed down.
To unbelievers, my social media, messages of the Word of God is nothing more than folly and foolishness, as we see in 1 Corinthians 1:17-25 (ESV):
17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
Christ the Wisdom and Power of God
18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach[a] to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 1:21 Or the folly of preaching
Social media fails by rules that limit the length, content, and content filters applied the messages. A personal one-on-one dialog would have a better chance of successfully sharing even the most simple of ideas found in the Bible.
Social media, such as Twitter or Facebook, is useful to “preaching to the choir” or sharing short messages or links to longer messages with other believers.
Now BLOGs, which are vehicles of larger more complex content, are more capable of sharing such content on the web.
I post my weekly sermons, along with illustrations and Scripture passages to a World-Wide readership averaging 30-50 readers each and every day. Because I can post key tag words and phrases, such topics, titles, characters, and Scripture verses, anyone using a search engine will hit upon those key-words and bring the searcher to the BLOG. You will note that searcher may or may not be a believer. They only require an interest in finding out more about the word, phrase or topic they chose to “Google”.
On many occasions, we have had visitors to our BLOGs communicate questions or comments about a sermon posted online. Some of our readers and visitors have come by on a Sunday morning to participate in the service.
While social media may help introduce people to the Gospel and the Word of God, it is the personal conversation and interaction that allows them to perceive God’s Holy Spirit, the true power that convicts people to believe in the truth of God’s Word and the Gospel of Jesus, which leads to a Christian faith conversion.
Let us pray…
Communion Observance (Responsive reading #663 – 1 Corinthians 11)
Closing Hymn #265: I’ve a Message from the Lord
Benediction – (Colossians 3:16-17):
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.