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Trending Christian Blog and Commentary

Rachel Dawson

What topic related to Christianity, faith, and the Bible is trending online and in social media today?

If you’ve been on any social media platform for more than a few minutes, I can almost guarantee you’ve seen it. The floods of tweets and posts attacking one person, shaming and bashing and speaking ill of them because of something they said (or didn’t say), did (or didn’t do). Joel Osteen, Jen Hatmaker, other pastors who have made public mistakes, politicians who make controversial decisions-- we readily share opinions and make comments about not only the actions of others, but their very character, too. Many of the people posting would even consider themselves Christians, and often many of them proclaim so proudly in their profiles.

Yet here we see messages broadcast loudly online that seem to go against the very nature of Christ himself…

We see the likes and retweets stack up, and we feel justified that our words were worth saying… but what if they weren’t?

“What we post on social media can take on a life of its own,” Gaye Clark writes for The Gospel Coalition. “The matter feels urgent, so we hastily type rebuttals. Veiled as zeal for truth, we run to our computers and phones to adjust error and admonish the man who got it all wrong. ...But was it true? Did it honor the Lord?”

This is the crucial question in today’s culture.

Just because we have these platforms and this access to audiences who will affirm us doesn’t mean we should use them as tools to shame others, yet we so often stumble into doing so.

When folks on Twitter were outraged about Joel Osteen supposedly not opening his church as a place of refuge during the hurricane in Houston, many didn’t even know the full, true story. The shaming spread like wildfire even though the facts had not been known or considered.

Clark addresses in her article that we often post things online that we assume to be true but instead turn out to be false. We do so thinking we are rebuking them, wanting them to do better or do more or follow Scripture more carefully, but, like Clark writes, “this goal often seems lost when we log on to our computer. On social media, public rebuke can seek to shake or discredit.”

What ends up happening is less of a healthy rebuke and more of a harmful attack.

“Technology makes it easy to lose sight of the image-bearer we’re addressing,” Clark writes. It would be wise for us all to keep this at the forefront of our minds as we craft posts to share with our followers: every human being on this earth bears the image of God. When we speak ill of them, we are, in essence, attempting to tarnish that image. What we rarely realize is we often tarnish our own in the process.

So, what’s the best course of action here? What do we do when we feel strongly about the way someone is handling a situation (or not handling it) or we feel compelled to comment and share our opinions of a person or a scenario?

“When possible,” Clark writes, “we ought to confront one another in person. It helps to look them in the eye when we speak of their heart.”

It’s far too easy to hide behind computer screens and keyboards, typing out things we would never dare to say with our words to someone’s face. Keeping in mind that they are an image bearer of God and a human being with a beating, feeling heart just like our own will help us as we discern what is best to say or not to say.

But what about the people who we don’t have direct access to? What about the megachurch pastors and the politicians and the spiritual leaders who we so badly want to rebuke and respond to? We can’t sit down for coffee with those people, and we can’t quite confront them in person… so then what are we to do?

Maybe the best advice there is to stay silent.

“The next time a post or tweet tempts you to reply with a snarky comeback, or take to your own platform to write a powerful rebuttal because the truth is too important to wait, consider our brother James’s words: ‘Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God’ (James 1:19-20),” writes Clark.

The advice, although challenging, is wise. May we choose to use our words wisely and follow the old “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” rule more. May we be more discerning of what is edifying and encouraging to say, and what might instead be hurtful, harmful, harsh, or even hateful. May we choose to rebuke in ways that are intentional with the ones with whom we have close and personal relationships, and may we extend more grace to everyone we come in contact with, online and off.

Today, try tweeting a little less and loving a little more. Let’s be Christians who give God glory with our words and give others grace through them, too.

Photo credit: Unsplash

Publication date: September 22, 2017

Rachel Dawson is the design editor for Crosswalk.com.

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There is no one on this earth who, if they live long enough, will not experience some type of grief—whether it’s the loss of a loved one, divorce, miscarriage, barrenness, friendships, permanent injuries, and so on. There is much joy in this life, but there is also deep sorrow. According to Tim Challies there is no sorrow deeper than the sorrow of loss. In his article, “How to Grieve Like a Christian,” on Challies.com he discusses the importance of understanding how Christians grieve.

Christ has Lordship over all of life, which includes grief. When you lose a fellow believer, there is a certain way Christians should grieve. Challies cites 1 Thessalonians 4:13:

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.”

Paul doesn’t say "that you may not grieve" and end it there...he says "that you may not grieve as others who have no hope." [Emphasis added] So clearly it’s OK to grieve, but Christians will grieve differently than unbelievers. Even if someone you lose is a believer, there will still be a time of grief because death is tragic. We can rejoice knowing our fellow believer is with God, but we can grieve for our loss on this earth and for their family.

Paul says we should grieve with hope; there is a difference here between Christians who can grieve with hope and “others” who grieve without hope. Challies writes,

Christians experience grief but without despair, sorrow but without defeat, sadness but without hopelessness. It’s true sorrow and true hope. These things don’t cancel out one another.”

So just because there is sorrow does not mean there is not also hope, and just because there is hope does not mean there will not be sorrow in this life. So how do Christians have hope in their grief?

First, Christians have hope because they know their fellow believer is with God now; secondly, Christians have hope because their grief is temporary. Our grief comes to an end when we depart this earth and join God, and all grief will come to an end when God returns to renew finally and fully this fallen world.  Challies examines Paul’s words again:

“Paul proves this by pointing back in time, then pointing forward: “For since we believe that [in the past] Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will [in the future] bring with him those who have fallen asleep” (1 Thessalonians 4:14).”

It is both interesting and amazing to note that our future hope is anchored in a past reality; Christ has already accomplished what needed to be done for all future hope. The gospel is a promise that what God said he would redeem has been redeemed, is being redeemed, and will be redeemed.

Jesus’ life is an example to those who believe—believers will be resurrected after their last breath on earth and join their heavenly Father. Without the resurrection of Christ there would be no hope and all grief would be hopeless. But Christ—through his life, death, and resurrection—has given us hope. It’s a hope we can live by, die by, rest assured in, and it’s also a hope we can share with others.

All believers who have fallen asleep will be with God, and on the last day the great promise will be fulfilled that Christ will return in glory to put an end to this broken world. On that day there will be no more tears—the last day of this current fallen world will be the last day of grief, darkness, and pain.

Let’s pick up with what Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4, continuing with verses 15-18:

“For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

Our hope is in the Lord, the one who never leaves our side even at death. We rise just as Christ did in the presence of the Lord; upon rising from the dead, we will breathe our first breath of everlasting life and experience our first taste of eternal joy in the presence of God’s untamed holiness and glory. This is a day to hope for…this is a day to rejoice in for those who have departed before us…and this is a day to share with others that they might share in this hope also.

Believers who have departed this earth before us are not lying dead in the ground. Challies encourages, “Because Jesus rose again, they will rise again. Because Jesus conquered death, they will conquer death. Because Jesus lives, they live.”

Your grief may last many days, months, or years; the pain in your grief is real but it will not last forever. Because of Jesus, we can have hope, and because we have hope we know that our grief will be temporary. This is why Paul concludes with encouragement—not only should be we encouraged by the hope we have in Christ, we should encourage each other with this truth.

To read Tim Challies’ article in its entirety, please visit Challies.com.

Crosswalk Contributor Christina Patterson shares this encouragement in her article, How You Can Find Hope from the Darkest Psalm (Psalm 88):

“If God didn't stop loving Jesus on the cross then no matter what dark season you are in He has not, and will not stop loving you. And if He's promised to never leave you for forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6) please trust He's right in the darkness with you friend. He walks through the valley of the show of death with us (Psa 23:4). We may not always feel or hear God but we can always believe His promise is greater than our darkness.”

Related articles:
10 Scriptures about Death to Comfort the Grieving
10 Things You Should Know about Grieving People
7 Things Not to Say a Grieving Person

Related video:

Christianity.com: How can Christians avoid saying the wrong thing to people who are grieving? - Elizabeth Groves from christianitydotcom2 on GodTube.

Image courtesy: ©Unsplash.com/Photo b yFrancisco Moreno

Publication date: September 21, 2017

Liz Kanoy is an editor for Crosswalk.com.

September 19 marked 20 years since the passing of beloved contemporary Christmas music artist Rich Mullins. Mullins died from a horrific car accident in 1997, but left a legacy of Christian worship. 

Ian Kissell writes in a memorial tribute that Mullins’ music continues to impact him, though many years have passed since he first heard Mullins’ words in the 90s. 

He writes, “The Christian life is a delicate balance between singing for joy and falling on grace. That is what I think keeps me coming back to Mullins. His music never feels trite, quite aware of the difficulties of life. However, it is always fully aware of the propensity of grace to overwhelm even the greatest trouble, and the role music has to play in helping with that process. It is, after all, the finest thing a person can find on this earth.” 

Mullins is best known for his Christian radio hit “Awesome God” but his influence on Christian music stretched across multiple albums during the 80s and 90s. Current Christian artists and bands including Caedmon’s Call, Amy Grant, Jars of Clay, Michael W. Smith, Third Day, and Hillsong United have all covered his work. It seems that though Mullins’ time in the Christian music industry was regretfully short, his impact on Christian worship remains today.  

Writes Kissell, “I grew up largely in a church culture that was infatuated with the shiny: the newest books, songs and ideas quickly crowded out the old. In that environment, there is something profoundly impactful with falling in love with the same songs your parents did; with letting them speak to you as they did to them. Most of us don’t normally think of ourselves as part of a continuing story, as if we have somehow participated in the events of the past and are continuing them.”

“His music is a reminder that stories from and about the men of old and their faith still have a place in the life of the Christian community.”

Crosswalk.com blogger David Burchett adds in his own tribute that Mullins’ song “We are Not as Strong as We Think We Are” continues to influence him today. 

The song includes this powerful stanza: Well, it took the hand of God Almighty/To part the waters of the sea/But it only took one little lie/To separate you and me/Oh, we are not as strong as we think we are.

Burchett responds, “If only we could acknowledge that we are not as strong as we think we are and then live accordingly I believe we would see an amazing difference. We need God and community to be spiritually and emotionally healthy. Yet pride tells me that I am able to handle the situation. Fear tells me that telling the truth in love will only make it worse. So one little lie or misunderstanding dealt with in my own strength negates the strength of a God who could part the waters of the seas and could no doubt heal my pain. If I let Him.” 

This confidence in God, and so much more, can still be gleaned from Mullins’ words today. May his music continue to uplift the spirits of God’s people through his legacy of worship. 

“I will sing of your love and justice; to you, Lord, I will sing praise.” (Psalm 101:1)

 

Photo credit: YouTube

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