“Submit yourself for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men; whether to the king or to governors. For it is God’s will that BY DOING GOOD, YOU SHOULD SILENCE THE IGNORANT TALK OF FOOLISH MEN. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, and honor the king.” -1 Peter 2:13-17 (NIV)
Most of us are fortunate to live in countries with a lot of freedoms. We can practice our faith openly. We can obtain and read any blog or book we want. In many places, inter-ethnic, inter-religious and now even same-sex marriages are shrugged off as normal. We have the right to assemble peacefully and speak for or against anything we have on our minds. We can carry posters, wear tee-shirts or post opinions of Facebook without unreasonable censorship or recrimination. All kinds of rights have been awarded the citizens of “progressive” nations around the world.
But sometimes, rights can be taken a little too far. Extremist use their Faith as the basis of illegal or even murderous activities. Bloggers extoll hatred and lies. Assemblies turn violent and disruptive. We walk around with sexual or offensive slogans on our clothes. We call for the overthrow of the president on our Facebook page.
Yup. I’m going there, but biblically; not politically.
This past week, I read a few posts professing hatred of the US president and calling for his impeachment. Now unless he does something illegal, this amounts to calling for the president’s overthrow. While I don’t think Canada will try to annex Minnesota in the ensuing chaos, the overthrow of a president is still not a good thing.
I read other blogs and posts calling poverty-stricken people lazy, uneducated, worthless, and criminal. Most posts blamed the poor for their own woes and extolled the virtues of being rich. They blasted as “communists” those who would support social programs or certain charities. One post called Pope Francis a socialist and made a disparaging remark about his Latin American heritage.
Every single one of these items was reposted on Facebook by people I know to be Christian. A couple of them have even come on mission trips to Guatemala. Some of the comments on these posts were even more disturbing, with use of disparaging and hateful expressions.
It boggles my mind. When I read the passage above from Peter, it almost made me cry. Why do good people waste so much energy spreading hate and mistrust and so little time actually making a difference in the world? Again, I’m trying not to be political, but the fact is that most of these posts are not facts. They are at best partial truths twisted to suit the political agendas of powerful and relatively few people and passed on to the rest of us as fact. And millions of us jump into the fray armed only with these deceptions.“
It is God’s will that BY DOING GOOD, we will silence the ignorant talk of foolish men”. We have rights. We can make a difference in the injustices and inequities of the world within those rights. I’m not about to preach any extreme views here. Doing good does not mean giving hand-outs to lazy people. After all, the Bible says “anyone who is not willing to work, let him not eat. (2 The 3:10)” But this doesn’t mean that the rich get to keep everything they make, either. As “(Jesus) answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” (Luke 3:10-11)
We need to do stuff, but first we need to put away words of hatred and ridicule. As we read in 1 John 4:20 (ESV), “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
This includes our government leaders and others in authority. Remember that all earthly authorities “have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” (Romans 13:1-2 ESV)
Of course, we are not supposed to lie down and passively allow people to walk all over us, either. God did not create us to sit by and watch Christian values be crushed nor to revel in the oppression of our brothers and sisters. But while we have a right to say hurtful and hateful things about our government and fellow man, we have a larger Christian duty to fight the battles worth fighting in a more worthy manner.
God gave each of us talent and intellect. We are armed to stand up to the devil, so certainly we can handle men. Therefore, let’s not jump on the bandwagon of someone less-able. Think twice before you hit that like button or re-post a message. Look past the immediate emotion and think about the true meaning and implication. Do a little fact-checking and see if it is really a message you want to endorse. Look at the page of the organization or person that originated the post to see what they are all about. The agendas of some organizations with very patriotic and faith-based names should appall you. Some seem to be the work of the devil himself, aimed at nothing more than spreading hatred and distrust.
Instead of reposting the thoughts of others, why not research topics and write our own messages? We have the power of information and self-thought along with our faith and trust in God. We can post words that reflect our true position. If we feel the need, we can use our rights to call for peaceful assemblies; invite the press to present our cause; call for boycotts and use our right to vote. But very importantly, we can present our case without resorting to name-calling, hate-mongering, and deceit.
Let’s choose to be Christian. Love one another. Trust God. Respect everyone. Let’s choose to spread the Word in the wonderful, trusting, powerful and positive way it is meant to be spread.