Twitter intimidates me.
Twitter might be viewed as a massive room full of people. Everyone in the room is talking at once, some with, some at, and some over each other. A lot of people make jokes, which helps cut the tension. Others misinterpret those jokes, which adds to the tension. Also, most folks appear to be angry. If Twitter was a room full of people, I imagine a large group would be hitting one other repeatedly.
I confess Twitter often frustrates me. Online interactions seem to daily prove how far short of the glory of God we fall. I watch Christians attack each other, attack the lost, and attack anything that moves outside of their understanding. At times, ignorance seems to reign. I grow weary reading through some tweets and replies, wondering if we’ll ever learn, ever do better.
In spite of this, some great things happen on Twitter. Christians from different backgrounds and perspectives engage ideas together, wrestling with difficult questions in the pursuit of truth. Voices of encouragement meet broken hearts and bring peace. Gospel truth still shines. In the midst of a sea full of injustice, harshness, and arrogance, we find souls genuinely engaged in doing justice and loving mercy and walking humbly with their God.
I’m reminded of the patience of God. In the book of Jonah, we read of Ninevah, a city of “more than 120,000 persons who [did] not know their right hand from their left” (Jonah 4:11). God could have destroyed them, and he threatened to do so through a stubborn prophet. Yet when warned, the people of Ninevah responded in a surprising way: they believed God and repented (Jonah 3:5-9). God then relented of disaster and spared them, showing mercy and grace instead of wrath (Jonah 3:10). The story of Ninevah illustrates Peter’s statement concerning the character of God:
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
2 Peter 3:9
God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23, 32; 33:11). His patience gives room for people to repent and turn from their sin. And his church advances by the power of his Spirit, such that even the gates of hell can’t hinder her growth. The Great Commission remains effective.
God also shows great patience with his people. Whether it’s Jonah running from God’s call, Paul and Barnabas separating over Mark, or us bickering with each other over second and third tier issues, God continues to work all things together for good. He proceeds toward the completion of the work he begun in our hearts, disciplining us and strengthening us as we learn to walk with him. “If we are faithless,” Paul writes, “he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).
I’m thankful for God’s patience. I’m thankful that I remain his in spite of my imperfect obedience. And I’m thankful that he continues to use us to accomplish his work in the world. The lost can be saved, the broken can be healed, and the weary can find rest in Christ. May we never tire of the message, and may we grow to reflect him more brightly in the darkness.