Today's Lectionary Text
Romans 12:17-21, 13:8-10Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
As a social media manager, I often monitor the conversations happening on church social media platforms. This can make for some tough days.
At our best, we United Methodists can passionately disagree with one another, yet see our differences as non-essentials. Does this issue “strike at the root of Christianity,” as our founder, John Wesley, would reflect? No? Then lets respectfully agree to disagree.
At our worst, we get ugly with each other on social media.
Instead of giving each other the benefit of the doubt, we quickly escalate tensions by painting each other as “liberal” or “conservative,” sometimes using even more inflammatory labels or invoking the names of politicians we love to love or love to hate. We let those outside the church influence the way behave toward those within our own community.
We sing out of the same hymnals, recite the same holy communion litany. We take the same vows of membership and make the same promises when babies are baptized. The common spirit of the United Methodist Church binds us all together, empowering us to do more to glorify God and bring light to the world than we ever could alone.
Let’s allow the Bible to guide our social media discourse.
Romans 12:17 tells us, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.” In social media, don’t respond to hateful comments with bitterness or spite, but try to assume the best of the other person and respond with thoughtfulness and grace.
Verse 18 goes on, “If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Don’t pick fights or return insults. Think before you post a comment.
Verse 20 tells us to treat our enemies with abundant kindness, “for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Of course, we should not see those with whom we disagree as our enemies, but responding in kindness does shine a light on un-Christlike behavior.
Remember the person on the other side of the screen is also God’s beloved. Many times, people feel invisible or left out, and they just want to be heard. Even as we disagree, let’s remember we are all part of God’s family and treat each other as such.
Prayer for Reflection
Patient God, as we search for Truth, help us to listen to your voice cutting through the noise around us. Help us to model the Kingdom of God in our words and actions, in person and online. Amen.
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