Today's Lectionary Text
Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God,
I will heal their disloyalty;
O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols?
Nowhere do I see this more clearly than in social media. Not too long ago, I made a request on a United Methodist discussion page. Some commentators, it seemed to me, were assuming that all local pastors were conservative and/or less educated than ordained elders. I wrote a post that politely (I thought) asked people to reconsider such an assumption.
Apparently, I hit a nerve. Some responders adamantly agreed with me. Others insisted that no one in the forum had asserted any such generality.
That’s OK. No need for us all to think alike. That’s the whole purpose of social media, right?
But what happened next, was that people got mean. “Give me ONE EXAMPLE of where anyone has said ANYTHING like this!” snapped one commentator. Another person provided a lengthy, irrelevant and condescending lecture about the difference between local pastors and ordained elders.
But even the people who agreed with me got nasty. “Elders are so arrogant—they treat us like second-class citizens!” whined one (apparently missing the irony of such an assumption). “I am a conservative local pastor—so what’s your problem with THAT!?” demanded another.
Eventually, the whole discussion thread turned into an ugly, local pastor-vs. -elder tit for tat. That wasn’t even my POINT. After only a few hours, I deleted the entire conversation in utter disgust.
Is this really what we have come to, that this is the way we talk to one another within our own denomination? Can we not stay on topic and treat one another with respect?
“Take words with you and return to the Lord,” says Hosea. Are the words we express through social media really the words we want the Lord to hear? Perhaps we should heed the prophet’s advice and present these words of offering: “Take away our guilt, accept that which is good, and we will offer the fruit of our lips.”
Words matter. The words that we post to social media are not unknown to God. May the words that we speak (and post!) to one another be good and fruitful, a pleasing offering before the throne of grace.
-Pastor Lori Schwilling
Prayer for Reflection
Lord, may my words today be sweet and pleasing to others and to You. Amen.
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