Pristine Grace

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Problems with Social Media
by Brandan Kraft
Problems with Social Media

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.Matthew 10:16

    I’ve been involved with the Internet now since the early 90s.  And so much has changed since I started using it.  In the 90s we used to get onto various bulletin boards and chat rooms and we’d talk about church and doctrine.  It’s kind of funny, because back then things weren’t nearly as controversial as they are today, and nobody used their real name - we all had handles like truck drivers and their CB radios!  Then as the internet grew, social media became subversive.  It was no longer just nerds like me using the internet, but anyone who could hold and use a cell phone.    And that’s when problems really started in my opinion in the online realm.  See before, if people got mad at each other in an internet dispute, it didn’t really affect too many people.  It usually just affected strangers in different parts of the world who had no other way to connect with one another.  But with the rise of social media, real names began to be used, and what was said in your online life could start affecting your offline life as well.  You hear stories of teenagers suffering abuse at the hands of their peers in schools - all while never seeing each other - but everything happening online on sites like Facebook or twitter.

    And this has also affected our churches now as well.  It’s easier now to really see people as they really are.  People now post what they think and you can go through their personal feed (if they are the sharing type) to give you an idea of what they are truly like as a person.  I'm not talking just about  the face they put on in church before other people, but their inner personal thoughts.  And sometimes you don’t even need to look at their feed for this.  They simply OFFER their commentary without request.   And If you say something they don’t agree with, they just LET YOU KNOW.   There is the perception by many that there is an invitation to be criticized online.  And unfortunately, we now see this in our offline relationships with church brethren.

    Additionally, during this time, some very zealous people started performing witch hunts on Facebook to root out what they determine to be false doctrine.  It’s not enough now to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth.  It’s not enough now to be aware of false doctrine.  These people have made it their mission to root it out wherever it may be.  They are constantly “exposing” people - showing the world how spiritual they are, and how erroneous this particular commentary or that particular commentator is.  They post memes.  They criticize people openly.  And all manners of decorum seem to be thrown out the window.  They claim to be Gospel defenders, or crusaders.

    And folks, I just gotta say that this manner of behavior online is just shameful.  Instead of preaching truth, and trying to help folks, you end up with a lot of peacocks strutting around showing off what it is they think they know.  And their rhetoric is now also affecting offline lives, because now everyone can see what’s going on.  This is particularly bad in my opinion amongst the Sovereign Grace churches online.  There is this constant “fight” - this constant search for so-called compromisers.  And all the joy of interacting online is lost.

    Ironically, many of the people causing problems don’t even meet regularly with other believers.  They simply maintain lists of acquaintances online.  To get on their list of “good people”, you simply have to agree with them.  And not just on doctrine and truth, but in who they deem as bad.  And if you don’t agree, you’re out and ostracized.  They then have the nerve to call that "christian fellowship."

    Folks, we gotta get away from this.  FACEBOOK is SICK.  It’s a SICK platform and is being abused by people who claim to be sovereign grace - those who claim to believe in grace but are not gracious toward others.  

    Let’s get back to basics.  Let’s get back to MEETING people face to face, and LOVING one another, and PRAYING for one another, and being TOLERANT (yes, tolerance isn't a bad word!) of one another’s INFIRMITIES.  I’m not saying we should embrace error, or be tolerant of gross malignant error.  But we should be patient with people, even those with whom we disagree.

    Instead of boasting on social media what it is you think you know and about other people, maybe you should just go find a nice pew somewhere, sit down, and ALLOW yourself to be TAUGHT.  Instead of opening your fat mouth, or letting your fingers quickly dance on the keyboard, SIT DOWN AND LISTEN.  And let us WORSHIP at the feet of our savior in HUMILITY.

    I don’t see a lot of humility online.  I see a lot of pride.  I see a lot of boasting.  And it really is quite shameful.  We who believe and rest in sovereign grace ought to be the most kind, the most considerate, the most patient, and the most loving folks.  We shouldn’t talk badly about people, and we shouldn’t be CRUSADERS ready to slice and dice people for having different thoughts than ours.

    Yes, we CAN be tolerant of those with whom we don't agree.  NO you don’t have to hold hands as brethren.  But we can be more civilized, and more representative of our Lord.  Let us be gentle as doves and wise as serpents.

Brandan, a software developer by trade, was raised in the Missouri Ozarks town of Potosi and started the Pristine Grace website around 2001. Brandan and his family live in Ashland Kentucky where they attend as members of Thirteenth Street Baptist Church.