Oh Be Careful Little Fingers What You Text…

Today I listened to Blaine Workman’s podcast: Learning to Speak TOBOG. He was speaking about our speaking — the words we say. He noted that if Paul were writing to the Ephesians today, he might say words like this:

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouth or flow from your fingers. Texting, twitter, facebook, blogs — they are all helpful tools for communicating in our digital age, none of them good or bad in and of themselves. But the rotting verbal garbage that some Christians are willing to post in texts or online is just appalling. It has no place  among God’s people. In some weird inexplicable way, talking to their electronic device somehow frees people to spew the most vile and corrupting talk in ways they’d be ashamed to do, speaking face to face with the real person. And brothers and sisters, the anonymity of cyberspace is no license for corrupting talk. If your brother sins against you, Jesus says, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. Today, we go tell the whole world in an anonymous post in a blog somewhere… ~Pastor Blaine Workman

That’s a bold thing for a pastor to say. It’s especially bold today, because it’s a quick way to be unfriended in social media.

Take a listen to Pastor Blaine yourself. Maybe you could post it on your own facebook or other social media page.

I dare you.

The Need for Grace

Some of the most emotionally healthy people I know are by no means perfect. And they do not live in a perfect world. They are people who are imperfect, who know they are, and who have found grace in Christ so they can move past their own failings — so they can forgive themselves and let Christ change their hearts. And they live among people who are imperfect. So they show those people the same grace they have received.

In contrast to this, some of the least emotionally stable people I know are those who beat themselves over the head for their failings because they cannot accept the grace God offers them. And they don’t pass such grace on to others — but instead they hold grudges, remember offenses, and keep accounts of grievances.

They live by one of two errant equations:

If I am perfect, then I will be emotionally healthy. 

That’s just plain wrong. Since you can’t be perfect, you’ll never be emotionally healthy as long as you hold to that paradigm.

If the people around me were perfect, then I would be emotionally healthy.

Wrong again.

You’ll never find a perfect family, a perfect workplace, a perfect church, or a perfect neighborhood. Those equations are just false.

This sermon speaks to the universal need we have for grace — the need both to receive and to give out grace.

A Key to a Meaningless Life

Some time ago, a couple came to the local churches asking for financial help. When the pastor asked, “Where do you attend church?” the answer was, “We don’t.” They are professing Christians, but they don’t go to church anywhere. This is common.

I was thinking about why folks who call themselves Christians don’t regularly fellowship with other Christians, and while I know there are a variety of reasons, I think one reason is because they have been injured in the past. Sometimes avoidance of church is symptomatic of aversion to social interaction in general.

However, God created us as social people. The phrase, “It is not good for man to be alone” does not only reveal the origin of marriage, but verbalizes our need to interact with others. This interaction is essential if our lives are to have real meaning.

Paul Borthwick stated this well just over two decades ago.

It is possible to evade a multitude of sorrows through the cultivation of an insignificant life. Indeed, if a man’s ambition is to avoid the troubles of life, the recipe is simple: shed your ambitions in every direction, cut the wings of every soaring purpose, and seek a life with the fewest contacts and relations. If you want to get through the world with the smallest trouble, you must reduce yourself to the smallest compass. Tiny souls can dodge through life; bigger souls are blocked on every side. As soon as a man begins to enlarge his life, his resistances are multiplied. Let a man remove his petty selfish purposes and enthrone Christ, and his sufferings will be increased on every side. (Paul Borthwick, Leading the Way, Navpress, 1989, p. 86)

Borthwick says a mouthful in those few words. He speaks of being significant. He encourages sanctified ambitions. He addresses the purpose-driven life.

To me, he’s saying: Brave the pain, risk the injuries, and dream big for the sake of being significant in the eyes of Christ.