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

The God of Peace

brendan-miranda-0K1C90geDao-unsplash

The topics of peace and division have been on my mind lately. In part, this is due to some of my research along those lines this semester (see last week’s post for more on that). But the themes are present outside of the classroom as well. Online interactions show us that division is prevalent in our world, and the bitterness with which people divide makes peace seen almost a myth. And sadly, the church isn’t immune from such struggles to live in unity.

Continue reading

Despite What Eyes Can See

jaleel-akbash-Slh0Tx1MRNA-unsplash.jpg

I neither like nor understand your “no,”
Yet neither are required for me to trust
That you make straight the way I am to go
E’en when desires give way to thirst and dust.
If you withhold no good thing from your own,
Then your withholding must be for the best.
I may feel I am utterly alone;
I know you have a purpose for this test.
The LORD will never fail. Thus it is joy
To walk the path of sorrow for a time.
The surest hope, none ever can destroy.
No valley deep can halt the upward climb.
Your love holds fast despite what eyes can see,
Thus sight always defers to faith in thee.


Photo by Jaleel Akbash on Unsplash

A Prayer to Abide

anjo-antony-1145152-unsplash.jpg

I want to walk with hope though there be sadness.
I want to be at peace though there be war.
I want to remain sober in the madness.
I want to trust, not knowing what’s in store.
I want my life to testify to blessings
Surpassing the self-pity that I feel.
I want to stand in spite of second-guessings.
I want my love to be alive and real.
I want my joy to show through circumstances,
Joy drawn not from my circumstance or sight.
I want my setbacks to serve your advances,
That, in the darkness, I reflect your light.


Photo by Anjo Antony on Unsplash

All Things Work for the Good, You Say

dimitar-donovski-1135820-unsplash.jpg

All things work for the good, you say.
I do not doubt the truth.
But shall I see the good one day,
Ever detect your better way
When circumstances ever lay
Before my doubtful heart a “may”
Which shakes the faith of youth
With fears I shudder to convey?

My mind is prone to wonder, though
I know you to be wise.
When progress on the road is slow,
When seasons threaten me with snow
Or desert heat, when all is woe –
God, how much further must I go?
My limits are my eyes.
I cannot see how I must grow.

Yet none can know your mind. You see
Past ev’ry fear I face.
So when I lose perspective, be
The peace amidst confusion, he
Whose presence makes the raging sea
A place of rest: tranquility
Of soul because of grace,
Enduring to eternity.


Photo by Dimitar Donovski on Unsplash

Thanks to Montray for helping me title this poem.

Words

alejandro-escamilla-22-unsplash

Our words divide. They rend each other’s souls.
The Word rends our division, offers peace
To war-torn hearts that long for true release
From slavery, from talk’s eternal tolls.
Our words deceive. They prove our father well.
The Word destroys deception in his wake
And takes e’en death’s ability to take
That souls may surely hope to ‘scape from hell.
Our words decay. They cannot help but fade.
The Word will never not be, shall endure
Should sea and sky be shaken. He is sure,
Salvation for the burdened and afraid.
Lord, teach our tongues, if e’er we speak, to be
Tamed by the Truth, to ever echo thee.


Photo by Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash