Unfriend Me

I’m troubled by a trend on social media.

Granted, there’s a lot to be troubled by today. This year continues to provide us with a multitude of reasons for anxiety. Disquiet and division abound as the world around us changes.

In many cases, the issues that arise raise good questions and can become opportunities for healthy conversations and needed changes. Such issues can also foster bitter disagreements and vitriolic statements. And this is to be expected. Whether the topic is racism or Covid-19, the subjects we discuss and the outworking of those subjects affect all of us in some way, and our emotions can quickly get involved in such cases.

Regularly, however, I see some individuals taking a surprising position on social media as they state their positions. Though the exact verbiage may vary, the posts often boil down to something like the following statements. “If you affirm ____,” they write, “please unfollow me.” “If you care more about ____ than ____, then consider our friendship over.” The sentiment seems to be an ultimatum: either agree with me or unfriend me.

I’m troubled by this trend for a few reasons. First, the statement seems impractical. If a person believes he or she holds truth that others fail to see, then division seems to lessen the probability of the one in error to learn or grow. Maybe the individual believes the shock value of the statement will awaken the wayward soul from intellectual slumber, but such a result seems unlikely. Second, the statement seems unloving. Such posts appear to make friendship contingent on agreement, for disagreement on a particular issue becomes grounds for division. Again, however, how does such division help those presumably in error? Does it not simply leave them in their ignorance? Third, the statement seems to promote echo chambers. By seeking separation from contradictory voices, individuals lose a valuable part of any discussion: the other position. One’s own views are safer when kept from challenges, but are they healthier?

I understand that such divisions do not occur over small matters. I doubt anyone is asking for separation over ice cream preferences or movie choices. Rather, the posts I’ve seen often pertain to matters of significant weight in culture. But is division justified on such matters? I’m not so sure.

Division isn’t foreign to the church. Paul gives instructions for dealing with divisive people in Titus 3:10-11, and Jesus gives instructions for dealing with the unrepentant within the walls of the church in Matthew 18:15-17. In both cases, however, the change in relationship occurs after multiple warnings to turn from sinful behavior, not on the basis of disagreement alone. Further, the goal appears to be restoration, not ultimate division, as Paul seems to demonstrate in his discussion of the man caught in adultery in 1 and 2 Corinthians. True, Proverbs seems to urge us to choose our friends wisely, but even then the deciding factors pertain to unrighteousness in the community and to its effects on oneself, not on contrasting perspectives on cultural movements.

I admit I may be missing something. There may exist good, biblical reasons for breaking fellowship in the minds of those who make the posts I’ve seen, and, if there are, I welcome correction of my misunderstanding. But I don’t currently see it. Instead, I see a trend that I fear may simply further division and cripple communication rather than helpfully contributing to the important conversations of our day. We face a number of complex issues worthy of critical thought and robust conversations. Perhaps asking for division over disagreements here is unwise.


Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash

Give Me a Love for People

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Give me a love for people,
For runny noses and achy heads,
For homesick widows with empty beds,
For orphaned children who long for homes,
For refugees on a strange sea’s foams,
For unwashed sweaters and hole-filled shoes,
For ears weary with unhappy news,
For feeble bodies both young and old,
For hearts white-hot and for hearts now cold,
For neighbors nearby and far away,
For friends who go and for friends who stay,
For enemies who have not earned peace,
For captives awaiting their release,
For those who share my blood and my name,
For names I would prefer not to claim,
For fallen minds that think much like me,
For souls with whom I still disagree,
For happy voices singing their songs,
For those I fear because of their wrongs,
For tongues I do not now understand,
For both innocent and guilty hands,
For those remembered, those forgotten,
For both highborn and misbegotten,
For image bearers in ev’ry form,
For the lost, the fervent, the lukewarm.
Give me a love for people.


Photo by John Simitopoulos on Unsplash

The Misfit Syndicate – a group effort

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Six guys from college have kept in touch consistently over the last number of years. Cade, Dustin, Jeff, Kevin, Will, and myself have shared encouragement, accountability, and laughs through seasons of difficulty as well as seasons of joy. Last year, they challenged me to write a blog post or a poem on any subject of their choosing for each of their birthdays. This year, they collaborated on a poem for mine. I suggested they write about the brotherhood of believers, using our group as an example, and I’m excited to share their work with you below.

Thanks, guys!


Isolation.
Sequestration.
No man was meant for the hermit’s Operation

Accountability.
Brotherhood.
How some men will stand the opposition of wormwood

Emotionless.
Stoic.
No man was meant for the pure role of heroic.  

Scripture.
Games.
Binded by the Lamb’s blood running through our veins.

Gandalf.
The Doctor.
A fan of these, as well as soccer.

Jaime Vardy.
Leicester City.
Go hand in hand like Joe and witty.

Friend.
Brother.
A man like Joe, there could never be another.

How then must these truths be taken?
None other than creating mancation!

A dream to most
We created a weekend of chaos, I must boast

But in the Cross that is
For it is no credit of our own, this work is simply His.

The game playing,
coffee drinking and steak eating will fade.

But this brotherhood is fraternal.
It cannot be broken, for this bond is eternal.

•HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO JOE THE WALLER•


Photo by Alex Holt on Unsplash

Fellowship

Frodo could not have made it to Mount Doom without the help of the fellowship. Sure, he wasn’t completely helpless on his own; he showed surprising resilience and courage throughout the journey. In fact, the strength of hobbits continually surprised the peoples of Middle Earth throughout the story of The Lord of the Rings. But the truth remains that the fellowship, that band of nine commissioned to carry the ring of power to its destruction, were crucial to Frodo’s success. The fellowship challenged Frodo to grow beyond what he had once thought possible for himself, and, because of their influence, he was able to complete his mission.

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