Sassy Friday – Christians and Political Correctness

I’ve seen the eye roll one too many times.  I can’t keep my mouth keyboard shut any longer.

Why are so many Christians opposed to political correctness?

According to good old Wikipedia, political correctness  is a term that refers to language, ideas, or policies that address perceived or actual discrimination against or alienation of politically, socially or economically disadvantaged groups.

In many Christian communities, the phrase “pc” is more offensive than the f-bomb, more eye-rolled-at than the mention of Al Gore, and more opposed than healthcare reform (but only slightly).

I hear Christians say that the political correctness agenda has been invented and embraced to undermine Christianity.  I hear Christians say that they won’t be politically correct because the notion of inclusion is non-Christian.  I hear  Christians say that political correctness muddies the truth.

But I believe that unless we know how to speak lovingly to and about our neighbors, we are undermining Christianity, we are being non-Christian, and we are muddying the truth.  Jesus loves people and his followers ought to do the same.  It’s hard to prove that we love someone when we attack, disrespect, misunderstand, and talk down to someone.

But seriously, when did speaking with care become an anti-Christian agenda?

God forbid we speak lovingly to our neighbor – oh wait, I think He is actually all for that.

Why would we not want to call our neighbors what they want to be called?  Why would we not want to learn what ethnicity our neighbors are?  Why would we want to label our neighbors at all?  Why would we not respect and give greetings when our neighbors holidays are different from our own?  Why would we not choose our speech carefully, considering who it could hurt and offend those around us?

Maybe part of it is that many of us don’t have actual neighbors who are much different than us.  Maybe we make the statements we do because we don’t really know any people to whom those statements apply.  Or maybe it’s just because we have an agenda, which we have labeled God’s agenda.

But…

Why do we get jollies from promoting discrimination?

Why do we fight to continue to call people with an intellectual disability retarded?

Why do we enjoy stereotyping?

Why do we balk at calling someone a flight attendant rather than a stewardess?

Why do we get pleasure from pushing our own agenda?

Why do we want to make everyone celebrate Christmas?

I’m not talking about changing interpretation of Scripture.  I’m not talking about changing political affiliation.  I am, however, talking about changing the way we talk about and interact with people.  People are not politics.  Individuals are not pawns in our personal stakes.

The Jesus I know  loved people.  He loved the poor and the rich, the women and the men, the unmarried and the married, the sick and the healthy, the Samaritans and the Jews.  Jesus looked on people with compassion and Jesus spoke to people with compassion.

I’m sorry, you’re right.  Jesus was offensive at times.  TO THE RELIGIOUS FOLKS.  Not to the outcast, the discriminated against, the marginalized, and the hurting.

And you know why political correctness is being promoted?  To protect the outcast, the discriminated against, the marginalized, and the hurting.  Political correctness is about changing hate-language, it’s about esteeming others,  it’s about making everyone feel equal, it’s about disbanding stereotypes.

I think that’s pretty in line with the work that Jesus was all about.

I see a lot of Christians who are more concerned with being right than with being in relationship.

And I guess the question I’m asking is: Is a political affiliation more important than a Christian reputation?  Is a label on homosexual relationships more important than building relationships?  Is pushing holiday celebrations onto others worth pushing others away?

Let’s love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Mark 12:31).  Golden rule stuff.  Let’s treat people like we want to be treated.  If you as a Christian don’t want to celebrate Ramadan, your Muslim neighbors probably don’t want to celebrate Christmas.  And that’s ok.  Honestly, I don’t think Jesus would love what Christmas in America has become.  I don’t know how Santa and stockings and Christmas lights point to Jesus anyway.  Getting to know your neighbors and their family and their work and their faith will open more doors to share about Jesus than saying “Merry Christmas” to them, knowing full-well they don’t celebrate Christmas.

Let’s be very careful then how we live.  Not as unwise but as wise (Ephesians 5).  This is a big one.  People watch how we live.  If we are bold and outspoken about our faith, others watch to see if our life is congruent.  The #1 reason people site for being turned off to Christianity is judgmentalism.  When we talk down to people, label people, and push our agendas, we are perceived as judgmental and we are being judgmental.

God’s agenda is people.  God’s agenda is redemption.  God’s agenda is reconciliation.  God’s agenda is salvation.  If we are fighting to push agendas that don’t bring those about, they are our agenda’s not God’s.

Speaking kindly, calling people what they wish to be called, and not pushing our agenda to the detriment of others is not anti-gospel and it’s not anti-truth.  We can take a stand on issues while not alienating others.  We can disagree with others without disrespecting them.  We can build friendships with people who don’t share our beliefs.  It’s very hard to witness to someone we’ve offended and disrespected.

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. – James 1:26

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Sassy Friday: Christians and Tantrums

I posted this back in the winter when Christians were ranting about gun control, but I thought it fitting to repost today with all the buzz I’m seeing about #doma. Replace references to gun ownership with doma and my feelings remain. Let’s not be resounding gongs or clanging symbols, regardless of our stance, lets show love.

—————————–

Call me a hipster, but I’m over social media tantrums.

I’m especially over outspoken Christians who are tantruming on social media. I’m over Christians ranting and raving and sensationalizing political initiatives. I’m over Christians saying we have a dictator for a president. I’m over Christians spending more time talking poorly about our leaders than praying for them. I’m over Christians confusing their political opinions with the gospel.

I don’t get all hot and bothered because I disagree with folks, I get hot and bothered because the majority of the social media temper tantrums I see are
a) not well-informed (ie uneducated)
b) sensationalized
c) not productive
and mostly
d) giving Christians a bad reputation

Christians, please do your research. The Bible talks about desiring knowledge and wisdom. Make sure that you are consulting varied news sources for your information. Just like with research papers in school, it’s best to have varied sources to verify information. News sources are no different, check your sources; vary your sources.

Christians, we are in an information age. People are passing information faster than ever before. But just like that game “telephone” we all used to play in elementary school, information gets changed as it gets passed from person to person. Let’s not get worked up because of something that so and so heard from so and so. Let’s not let our favorite news caster spark fear. Again, go back to the last point and do your research. Also, keep perspective. Remember in what country we live. Remember that there are people in the world who are starving, people who don’t have clean drinking water, people who are killed because of their ethnicity or religion. Keep perspective about where you opinions fall in the grand scheme of the problems of the world. Your ability to own as many guns as you want is less important than the 27 million people who are enslaved today in the world. (Keepin’ it real since 1982 folks).

Christians, we are supposed to be light in darkness, we are supposed to add savor and flavor to the world. If all we are adding is negativity, we aren’t doing a great job at our job. If all we do is complain about things, we aren’t spreading good news. If all we do is bash our leaders when we are commanded to pray for them, we aren’t in line. Instead of posting complaints and rants, let’s post about what we care about. Let’s give solutions, not just problems.

Lastly, Christians, we have a responsibility to one another to uphold the reputation of our brothers and sisters. As an outspoken Christian, my attitudes, behaviors, and comments affect the public opinion about Christians in general. That’s a weighty responsibility. Please remember that in your words, conversations, and social media posts and I’ll try to do the same.

In summary, no one likes a 2 year old tantrum, but it’s sort of expected and definitely understandable. No one likes an adult tantrum; it’s unexpected and undesirable, period.

Sassy Friday – Christians VS. Sex Education

I sifted through my mail today and found a donation confirmation letter from World Vision.  I opened up the letter to find an update on our sponsored child’s community.  I read about agriculture, education, and health.  Under the health update, I was informed that thanks to the work of the clinic in this community and local churches, “young people were provided with age-appropriate HIV and AIDS education.”  I’m supportive of sex education.  And I imagine a lot of conservative Christian World Vision supporters would be pro sex-education in developing nations.  But many of those same supporters would be against sex-education in the United States.   Why is appropriate for African youth to get sex ed, and not American youth?

I grew up in a conservative Christian home with parents who were terribly unhappy when they learned that my 5th grade PE course had contained a sex ed unit.  I’m pretty sure they stormed the doors of my middle school when they finally dragged the information out of my embarrassed self.

I’m not sure we ever talked about it, so, if you’re reading mom and dad, here’s the truth:  I had a very comprehensive sex education during my public school career – in health class (sheesh people, if that’s where your mind went already, we are in for a long blog).  Each year from 5-12th grade, I learned about male and female anatomy, I learned about the mechanics of sex, I learned about contraceptives, and I learned about STI’s (they were called STD’s back then).  I learned how to put a condom on properly.  I had to practice using words like “penis” and “vagina” out loud without giggling, so that I could dialogue about sex without awkwardness.  I also learned that I was in charge of the choices that I would make sexually.  I learned that I could say no to unwanted touches.  I learned that my body was my body.

At home, I had a very comprehensive spiritual education.  I learned that I was fearfully and wonderfully made.  I learned that I was beautiful.  I learned that modesty was good for me and my neighbor.  I learned that I had value.  I learned that marriage was beautiful and that affection is a healthy part of married life.

In youth group, I learned that God had designed sex. I learned that sex is really good and super fun within the confines of a marriage relationship.  I learned that premarital sex was not Gods’ best plan and I was encouraged to save sex for marriage.

And I did.

I had a really comprehensive physical and spiritual sex education in my formative years.  I learned about the science, self-worth, and spiritual sides of sex.  Through varied sources, I formed a value system based on my education and faith that would inform my sexual choices.

Comprehensive sex education did not encourage me to have sex before marriage.  In fact, comprehensive sex-education might have deterred me from having sex outside of marriage.  I learned some facts that I wasn’t learning at home or youth group.  Contrary to a lot of Christian popular belief, comprehensive sex education does not teach “do whatever feels good” or “have sex with whoever you want whenever you want”  but rather, it teaches biology, mechanics, and protection.

Society teaches “do whatever feels good” and “have sex with whoever you want whenever you want.”  Have you watched tv lately?  Have you seen magazine covers in the Target checkout lines?  Have you mistyped a web address (or correctly typed a web address – ahem)?  Sex is everywhere.  Sex messages are everywhere, they aren’t reserved for the home or the classroom.

To all of you who think that abstinence only-sex education is the answer , I have a few thoughts:

1.  You can’t make assumptions that knowledge encourages unhealthy sex: Knowing about my body and my spouse’s body (how it all works together inside and outside) enhances our sex within marriage.  Mystery can breed shame and fear; two things that kill a good sex life.  I’m so thankful that I went into marriage with a holy mystery about the act, but zero mystery about the mechanics.  I have friends who waited for sex til marriage, who had little to no sexual education, that had a scarring honeymoon.  I have friends who waited to have sex til marriage, with little or no sexual education, that don’t enjoy sex, even years later, from lack of ability to dialogue openly about their questions and feelings. (check out this great blog about this topic) I’m not embarrassed to talk about sex, probably because Mr. Santorum in 6th grade made us read articles out loud containing words that send most middle-schoolers and middle-agers into a giggle fit.

2.  You can’t make assumptions that every child has a parent who will talk to them about sex:   A lot of the arguments I hear are from evangelical Christians rallying for sex to be taught parents.  Not every child has a parent, so let’s start there.  Some children are raised by grandparents, some by aunts and uncles, others by foster parents, and still others by group home parents.  If you think it was awful to get the sex talk from your mom or dad, imagine it coming from your grandma or grandpa or a complete-stranger-foster-parent.  No. Thank. You.

Of course, it’s best case scenario for parents to share values with their children.  This should include sex.  But the truth is; some parents don’t know what they value in regard to sex and others don’t know the mechanics.  You don’t have to know how a car engine works to drive it- if you know what I mean. (I would argue that when you know how the engine works, though, you know better how to drive the car).  Sadly, there are a lot of evangelical Christians and non-evangelical Christians living in the world who do not know body biology and are not educated enough to educate their kids about anatomy and sex.  And if you are a biology whiz who has no shame and wants to talk to your kids about sex, do it!  Teenagers don’t believe half of what their parents say anyway.  You will simply confirm what they learn from a respected teacher, and you can add some value and dialogue.   (check out this great blog about talking to your kids about sex) Seems like a win win to me!

3.  You can’t make assumptions about all of your child’s choices; even his/her sexual choices.  I’m not a parent, I can’t imagine all of the the hopes and fears that parents have.  I’ve watched my parent friends, and what I see all of them learning is that they don’t have full control of their child(ren), and that they are raising independent creatures who will make their own choices.  Parents teach, guide, and love, but they can’t control.  Some of your children will have sex before marriage, some will not.  There are consequences for abstaining and consequences for engaging.

A recent study showed that 80% of unmarried evangelical 18-29 year olds report having had sex.  Your child’s virginity at the wedding altar shouldn’t be your biggest hope or goal. (In fact, your child getting married and having their own family shouldn’t be your biggest hope or goal.)  It can be a hope, but virginity on the wedding day isn’t a guarantee for a healthy marriage, and non-virginity on the wedding day isn’t a guarantee for an unhealthy marriage.  (check out this great blog about this topic).  There is great power in education.  Allow your children to learn about sex – all of the nitty gritty details.  Allow them to weigh the consequences.  Allow them to protect themselves.  Allow them to be smart.  This knowledge will help if and when they get married, I promise.

4.  You can’t make assumptions about all of the choices that will be made for your children.  This is an awful thought, and I hate that I’m even bringing this up, but it’s a reality.  1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men are sexually abused before the age of 18 in the United States.  Every 2 minutes, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted.  We live in a sad, broken world, where evil things happen.  Not always, but in some cases, abuse is perpetuated because victims don’t know their rights, don’t know they can tell an adult that something bad is happening, don’t know that they can say no.  Those topics that we avoid or talk about in hushed tones are usually secrets, and secrets are meant to be kept.  When we whisper about sex, we teach our children that it’s inappropriate, that it’s not meant to be talked about, and that it’s meant to be kept hush hush.  That’s not true, and it’s especially not true in the case of abuse.

54% of sexual assaults are never reported to police.  This could be because of guilt or shame or uncertainty that the victim was indeed violated.  If sexual education could prevent one occurrence or re-occurrence of sexual abuse/assault, wouldn’t it be worth it?  If a child/youth knew his or her own body and knew that he/she could say no or tell someone, wouldn’t it be worth it?  (check out this great blog about this topic)

5.  You can’t make assumptions about your child’s future spouse, or her/his sexual history.  Parents can have hopes and dreams, but parents can’t guarantee that their child will have a spouse and if they do, that their child’s future spouse will have waited to have sex until she/he married your child.  Remember that stat I mentioned earlier?  80% of unmarried evangelical 18-29 year olds have had sex at least once.  Let’s get our heads out of the evangelical sand and be realistic: If your child gets married, his or her fiancee most likely won’t be a virgin.

But for your child, knowing about sex, protection, and STI’s is a great starter for healthy talks about sex, consequences, and realities.  A healthy sex dialogue is critical for a healthy sex life, and a healthy sex life is critical for a healthy marriage.

Let’s not be naive.  Let’s educate our children.  Let’s advocate for those children who do not have parents that can dialogue with them.  Let’s recognize that a healthy, comprehensive sex education can help our children to protect themselves, make responsible choices, and one day, have healthy sex lives.  Let’s be ok with educating our American children and the children around the globe.

Sassy Friday – Christians and The Pursuit of the “Bad Guy”

Everyone has been glued to news stations this week for updates on the Boston Marathon bombings.  I’ve been scanning media and social media for news throughout the day today, and in addition to continued shock at this tragedy, I’ve been struck by all the comments I’ve seen about what should happen to the suspects.  It seems that people are downright giddy that “justice has been served” – that one of the suspects has been killed.  It seems that people are waiting until we can catch the other bad guy to see how we will dish up his punishment.

Please hear me when I say that I am not condoning or excusing violence.  What happened in Boston was a sick tragedy.  What happened should not have happened.  Those that caused the bombings were wrong.  I believe in justice.

But justice is not vengeance. It seems that people aren’t so much excited about justice as they are vengeance.  It’s the whole, “he had it coming” “eye for an eye” “he deserves death” mentality that has me concerned.  I’m concerned for my fellow Christ-followers who get excited about pursuing the bad guys and bringing down the enemy.

Truthfully, I’m concerned that Christ-followers have enemies at all.  Maybe they aren’t outright labeled as “the enemy”, or “the bad guy”, but I’ve seen a clear us vs. them, good vs. evil mentality among Christians. I know Christians who have identified a person, or a group of people, or a nation, or a religion, or an ethnicity as “the enemy”.  I remember first recognizing this enemy talk after 9-11.  I’ve heard it through subsequent wars and tragedies, and I’m hearing it a lot today.

It alarms me that Christians are so caught up in catching the bad guys and getting them what they deserve because that isn’t the message of Jesus.  In fact, Jesus countered this mentality very clearly in Matthew 5.

Jesus starts out the passage with the famous beatitudes when he brings his shocking turnaround blessings – Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the persecuted, blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.  He then goes on to call his followers to be salt and light to the world – He tells his followers to bring flavor and brightness to a dull and dark place.  Then He confounds the religious rule-followers by getting past the laws and to the issues of the heart.

And then it starts to get real real:

Love for Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

It’s hard to love our enemies – be they personal or societal.  It’s hard to pray for those who cause violence to the innocent.  But we Christ-followers have signed onto this as part of following Christ.  We have chosen to follow Him into confusion, into sadness, into the unknown of what it means to pray for and love those that have caused wrong.  It doesn’t mean that we excuse behavior,  but it means that we trust our Just God who says that vengeance is His, not ours (Deuteronomy 32:35, Romans 12:19).

God is a God of justice (Isaiah 30:18).  We are not the gods of justice.  In fact, the majority of Biblical references to God’s people pursuing justice are around the issues of securing justice for the poor (Lev 19:15, Deut 27:19), Prov 29:7, Is 1:17, Is. 10:1-2, Mic 6:8), not securing justice for criminals.

The truth is, if we really believe that Christ died for our sins, and that through His death and resurrection we are redeemed and we can be restored, then we have to believe that not just for us, but for everyone.  And that everyone includes those who have committed the unthinkable and those who don’t deserve it – because the very deepest truth is that we don’t deserve it either.

We were once enemies – enemies of God (Romans 5), but through grace that we didn’t deserve, God offered mercy.  So, we, the recipients of mercy, ought to offer it as well to both neighbor and enemy.

Justice is good.  Keeping our cities and nations safe is good.  Vengeance, however, is not ours, and it certainly shouldn’t be our goal.  I have a sneaking suspicion, that if Christ-followers got on board with this whole ‘loving our enemy thing’, we would bring a salt and light to the world that hasn’t been there before.  Jesus spread His message by living so radically different than the rest of society; through spending time with questionable people, through spreading grace not anger, through forgiving and restoring criminals  (even one next to him on the cross during his crucifixion) – shouldn’t we be doing the same?

And if you just can’t imagine how to pray for our enemies, please join with my friend Jon, in this prayer.

Sassy Friday – Poor Language

I recently heard a pastor announcing a church’s outreach project to a local impoverished neighborhood.  He invited parishioners to come spread love to “those that are far from God.”  He talked about the various projects that would be completed during the outreach and then moved on to the next announcement.

But I didn’t hear the next announcement, because I could feel the heat rushing to my face.  This wasn’t the first time I’d heard a pastor or church leader talk about the poor as being “far from God” or “nonbelievers” or “outside of the family.”

Suburban church, let’s get something clear; just because someone is poor doesn’t mean they don’t know Jesus. 

Think about that for a minute.

Do you often think that your local urban mission projects are an outreach to spread the message of Jesus to those who need to hear it?  While your service may be a physical demonstration of the love of our Savior, the recipient of the service may already know Jesus.  The recipient of the service may have known Jesus longer than you, or more deeply than you, or more truly than you.

Physical poverty doesn’t imply spiritual poverty just as physical wealth doesn’t imply spiritual wealth.

And yet somehow, from our privileged pews, we have constructed a notion that our volunteerism to the poor is for their physical, financial, and spiritual benefit.  Are we open to just serving someone for their physical and financial benefit?  Or would our service be less serve-y if the recipients already had Jesus? Is it even worth our service to help someone physically if they already “have Jesus”?

Are we willing to accept that the poor, the disenfranchised  the marginalized, and the down and out might be even closer to God than we are?

Think about it: In Matthew 5, that famous sermon on the mount, Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God.”  I’ve met a lot of poor folks, both in the United States and in third world countries, who are closer to God than I am.  I’ve heard many Americans return from mission trips to say, “The people in [insert whatever city they just visited] were just so happy.  They were content with their lives, they helped their neighbors, they had a joyous faith…”  Many poor people have great spiritual wealth.

Theirs is the Kingdom.  Very truthfully, my wealth may very well be keeping me from fully participating in the Kingdom of God (Matthew 19:24)

So who are we to make judgement calls about the condition of another’s soul?   We may have more physically, but they may have more spiritually.  We won’t know the state of someone’s spiritual life unless we get to know them deeply.

The reason we get this all turned around in our heads is based in stereotypes, pride, bad theology, and a series of other spiritual ills.  But the deeper reason that our thinking hasn’t been corrected, is our lack of knowledge.  We would know the spiritual condition of a neighbor if we simply got to know her.  It’s hard to meet our neighbors if we never leave the doors of our homes and churches and own communities.  And even if we do leave our doors and go into the community, we won’t get to know our neighbors by picking up their trash or painting their walls, we’ll get to know them by spending time with them regularly and intentionally.

The reason we get this all turned around in our heads is that many of our community service projects aren’t relationship-building projects.  We would know about the spiritual condition of our neighbor if we talked to him on a regular basis.  We would probably learn a lot.  We would probably throw out the notion that we were serving him and we would learn that we were serving each other.

I think the real reason pastors, church leaders, and church attendees assume we are serving those “far from God” when we serve the poor, is that we feel superior, more put together, and more in the know.  We don’t admit that, and we might not even know that we believe that, but most of us do.  From our higher position, we come to serve and bring Jesus to those lower than us.  We have something to offer them.

One of my favorite authors, Bob Lupton, puts it this way, in his amazing book, Theirs is the Kingdom:

“When my goal is to change people (and I would like to add serve people), I subtly communicate: Something is wrong with you; I am okay. You are ignorant; I am enlightened.  You are wrong; I am right.  If our relationship is defined as healer to patient, I must remain strong and you must remain sick for our interaction to continue.  People don’t go to doctors when they are well.

The process of “curing” then, cannot serve long as the basis for a relationship that is life producing for both parties   Small wonder that we who have come to the city to “save” the poor find it difficult to enter into true community with those we think needy.”

 What do you think?  Does this agree with you, disagree with you?  Talk to me.

Sassy Friday – Effects of Social Media

I’ve been thinking a lot about social media lately.  More specifically, I’ve been wondering if the life we choose to put out on a screen has changed the way we put out life off a screen.

I’ve been thinking about how, thanks to twitter, facebook, instagram, the vine, and whatever else we’re using these days, we have the opportunity to headline our successes, broadcast our happiness, and completely edit out the negative.

If I have a double chin or an exposed tank top-arm in a picture posted on facebook, you better believe I’ll untag myself immediately. I want to look good to all the people I went to middle school with and haven’t seen since.  I don’t want anyone to think I’ve let myself go because of a realistic photographer angle.   If I’ve made only two healthy meals in a week of grabbing whatever I can between crazy work and evening obligation schedules, I only instagram the healthy meals, (duh).  I want you to know that I’m a healthy culinary genius.  And if I’ve only read one book in the last two months, but I made time to read today, I will most definitely be tweet quoting that bad boy so that all of my followers know that I, @allisonbuzard, am an avid reader.

Social media isn’t the place for deep vulnerability and sharing personal struggles.  In fact, I’ve been known to rant about the facebook-overshare a time or two.  And while I’m not advocating for more social media over-sharing, I am wondering today, if our use of social media has crippled our real life ability to share.  Are we becoming too accustomed to editing ugliness and only sharing the good stuff, that we have forgotten how to be real and vulnerable off the screen?

And what about this: Do we assume that others in our lives are doing great because of what we see on social media?  Have we stopped really checking in with our friends because it appears on facebook that their put-together, color-coated kids are always smiling, they are drinking green-colored smoothies, their work is fulfilling, and they are reading CS Lewis?  Have we lost the art of real community, because we assume from our viewing of online community that all is well?

While we’re going deep, let’s go even deeper.  Today, I’m wondering if social media has altered our motives.  Did I cook that meal and plate it nicely because I want to eat delicious healthy food, or because I want accolades from my instagram followers?  Did I post on facebook about my recent coffee date with a college student because I genuinely had a good time connecting with her, or because I want people to know that I’m a good small group leader?  Did I tweet quote that guest speaker or author (using her/his twitter handle of course) because I genuinely liked what she/he had to say, or because there was a little part of me that wanted to be retweeted or interacted with on social media by someone that’s a little famous?

Very easily, social media can lead to self-centeredness.  Self-centeredness can breed insecurities.  Insecurities can birth editing.  Editing can produce a false sense of identity.  And a false sense of identity can cause pride, fear, inauthenticity, and even impure motives.

And delving even a little deeper, sometimes, I wonder if we’ve lost the ability to “treasure up things, and ponder them in our heart” like Mary did after the birth of Jesus (Luke 2).  Can you imagine if Mary and Joseph had access to social media and used it like we do? Because the pre-marriage pregnancy seemed a bit sketchy back in the day, I doubt they would have posted month by month pregnancy progress photos on facebook, but would they have told everyone that they were visited by angels and explained the conception in a facebook post?  Would they have instragramed baby Jesus with the shepherds?  Would they have tweeted about their visit from the three kings so the three kings could retweet it and used the hastag #4kings?

Sometimes, I wonder if we’re too busy taking pictures of nature, typing a deep quote, and tagging people in posts to just plain savor the good moments in life.  Have we lost the art of pondering things, and treasuring things, and keeping things to ourselves?  Are our lives too public?

Maybe it’s just me.  Maybe I’m crazy self-centered.  But I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s not just me (I’m not disagreeing that I am self-centered and in my head).  I’ve seen some tweets from friends quoting a speaker that I’m pretty sure we both thought had C+ content at best.  I’ve tagged friends in photos and realized later that those friends had untagged themselves.  I’ve talked with friends who got jealous of how great everyone’s life seems on facebook when theirs was falling apart.

I’m not advocating for going back to simpler days and signing off all social media.  I have taken breaks for seasons, and if you feel the need to do that, do.  I think social media has great benefits; I just think we need to be sure that social media isn’t shaping us into inauthentic, self-centered, attention-hungry, oversharers.

What do you think?  

Has using social media changed you or your community?

Sassy Friday – Christians and Tantrums

Watch out world! I have been down for the count with the flu for the last week and a half. I didn’t have energy to put on real pants let alone type, but I as my strength has come back, so has my sass. Welcome to my Sassy Friday Post-Flu Edition.

While Lance Armstrong and Manti Te’o have hogged the news this week, you have, no doubt also heard about the new gun control initiatives from the White House.

We all have opinions about guns – Either you think all of us should be allowed to have them, you think some of us should be allowed to have them, or you think that none of us should be allowed have them. (OK, that’s simplified but you probably fall into one of those categories give or take).

I’m not going to argue what you should think about guns here on the blog today. Honestly, I haven’t recovered enough from the flu to respond to the comments that would ensue. (If you want to read a great article about a Christian response to gun control, read this article.) But here’s what I’m healthy enough to tackle today: Christian Temper Tantrums. This week, I saw a whole lot of temper tantrums sparked over the issue of gun control.

Call me a hipster, but I’m over social media tantrums.

I’m especially over outspoken Christians who are tantruming on social media. I’m over Christians ranting and raving and sensationalizing political initiatives. I’m over Christians saying we have a dictator for a president. I’m over Christians spending more time talking poorly about our leaders than praying for them. I’m over Christians confusing their political opinions with the gospel.

I don’t get all hot and bothered because I disagree with folks, I get hot and bothered because the majority of the social media temper tantrums I see are
a) not well-informed (ie uneducated)
b) sensationalized
c) not productive
and mostly
d) giving Christians a bad reputation

Christians, please do your research. The Bible talks about desiring knowledge and wisdom. Make sure that you are consulting varied news sources for your information. Just like with research papers in school, it’s best to have varied sources to verify information. News sources are no different, check your sources; vary your sources.

Christians, we are in an information age. People are passing information faster than ever before. But just like that game “telephone” we all used to play in elementary school, information gets changed as it gets passed from person to person. Let’s not get worked up because of something that so and so heard from so and so. Let’s not let our favorite news caster spark fear. Again, go back to the last point and do your research. Also, keep perspective. Remember in what country we live. Remember that there are people in the world who are starving, people who don’t have clean drinking water, people who are killed because of their ethnicity or religion. Keep perspective about where you opinions fall in the grand scheme of the problems of the world. Your ability to own as many guns as you want is less important than the 27 million people who are enslaved today in the world. (Keepin’ it real since 1982 folks).

Christians, we are supposed to be light in darkness, we are supposed to add savor and flavor to the world. If all we are adding is negativity, we aren’t doing a great job at our job. If all we do is complain about things, we aren’t spreading good news. If all we do is bash our leaders when we are commanded to pray for them, we aren’t in line. Instead of posting complaints and rants, let’s post about what we care about. Let’s give solutions, not just problems.

Lastly, Christians, we have a responsibility to one another to uphold the reputation of our brothers and sisters. As an outspoken Christian, my attitudes, behaviors, and comments affect the public opinion about Christians in general. That’s a weighty responsibility. Please remember that in your words, conversations, and social media posts and I’ll try to do the same.

In summary, no one likes a 2 year old tantrum, but it’s sort of expected and definitely understandable. No one likes an adult tantrum; it’s unexpected and undesirable, period.