Faith Journey 6: Faith on Facebook

To be fair, the title of this should read, “Faith on Social Media”… but I do like a bit of alliteration!

Social Media is still a relatively new part of life. It is a popular thing, and I know of many young people who simply cannot wait until they are able to create their own Twitter or Instagram account.

Despite the popularity of Social Media, there are many who look on and wonder what impact this will have on people, in the longer term. We are already seeing some elements of this: people often filter their lives online. Some paint life as being brilliant, others showcase the things which have gone wrong. This, in turn, negatively impacts self-esteem, as people feel their real life doesn’t match the “social media” life presented by others.

Another worrying aspect of Social Media is bullying. You are probably familiar with the (very) old phrase, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. I always had suspicions that this phrase was, at best, meaningless and, at worst, completely wrong.

But I think my suspicions have been proven correct, in light of social media: words can, in some instances, kill. I’m sure you are familiar with stories of people being bullied over Social Media, from celebrities to ordinary people. Very sadly, this bullying can often cause someone to feel so devalued and unloved that they take their own life. This is a serious issue, and is unlikely to go away, unless there is a change in attitude.

I suspect bullying is such an issue online because people find it it is easier to forget there is a person beyond the icon with which you are engaging.

People also seem less-inhibited when commenting online. I have read comments attached to articles which are full of rage and contempt: things I encounter on the rarest of occasions in the real world, when engaging with real people.

What has all this to do with faith? Well, the articles I read to which these comments are attached relate to faith. Certain atheists are very aggressive in how they respond to faith on Social Media.

My question in response to this is, as Christians, should we engage with people online, if they are commenting in this aggressive fashion? My honest answer is: I don’t know. I have often been tempted to respond to some comments from atheists, because their objections to faith are pretty poor, and could be easily refuted in a reasonable conversation.

But there’s the key issue: would it be a reasonable conversation? In light of what I’ve shared about some of the issues around self-esteem and bullying on Social Media, I think it is unlikely that engaging in this fashion will be met with a reasonable response. Some Christians do engage, and I admire them for it, but even I come away from reading some comments feeling sad.

Does this mean I am failing to stand up for my faith online? I don’t think so. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a Christian, and my Social Media reflects this – by and large I only use it to highlight things on this site, and share about my faith. Granted, this is only seen by my friends (although, anyone can access this site), but most of my friends aren’t Christians.

I may not overtly engage as much as others online, but I can say with certainly that I am living out my faith in the digital sphere. Should I do more to engage with people? Perhaps, but I’m still mulling over that question.

Is Jesus Alive?

Did Jesus really rise from the dead? As Christians, we believe that He did. We call this the Resurrection. We also believe there is evidence to support Jesus’ Resurrection.

At Dalziel St. Andrew’s Parish Church, we have begun a new preaching series focussing on the Resurrection of Jesus. You can catch up on these services on our YouTube channel, or you can join us at 11am on a Sunday morning – we’d be delighted if you joined us!

We have also identified some resources which will help you if you wish to explore further the Resurrection of Jesus. We have listed these below. We hope you will find them an encouragement and a blessing.

Online
www.uncover.org.uk
Did the resurrection really happen?
Resurrection: history or legend?

www.gotquestions.org
Is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ true?

Books
clark_alive
Alive: What Could Jesus Resurrection Mean for You? 
by Dan Clark

carson_scandalous
Scandalous 
by D.A. Carson

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The Case for Easter
 
by Lee Strobel

Videos

The Case for the Resurrection of Christ


In this video, Lee Strobel explains his book The Case for Easter.

 

Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?


This video, from Institute 360 explores in a conversational way, some of the main objections to the Christian faith. A warning to parents: this video states that Santa is a myth.

Faith Journey 4: What Can I Do For You?

I find I often ask this question: “God, what do you want me to do for you now?” This is  a fairly common question for someone in full-time ministry. It would be a disaster if my attitude was, “Okay God, this is what  think I should do next!” (as if I could know better than God!).

As Christians, we believe that God is at work in our world, putting right injustice and working to transform people’s lives. As Christians, we are called to seek God, discern where He is working, and then humbly ask how we can help God in the work He is already doing. It’s a real privilege to work alongside God in the world!

As part of my ministry training, I have the opportunity to receive spiritual accompaniment. This is a process where by someone helps me to discern and reflect on my faith, and the impact of my faith on my life. I have had one session of this so far, and I have already discovered another wonderful facet of my faith, which I hadn’t really considered before.

To help me see this, my spiritual accompanier reminded me of this story in Mark 10:

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means ‘son of Timaeus’), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’

Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’So they called to the blind man, ‘Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.’ Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

‘What do you want me to do for you?’ Jesus asked him. The blind man said, ‘Rabbi, I want to see.’ ‘Go,’ said Jesus, ‘your faith has healed you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. (Mark 10:46-52 NIVUK)

I’ve highlighted the key question in bold. My spiritual accompanist told me this story and asked me to ponder how I would answer the question Jesus put to Bartimaeus: “What do you want me to do for you?”

In all honesty, I don’t know how I would answer it yet, because I am not used to asking such a question! It is far more common for me to ask it the other way round: “Jesus, what can I do for you?”

What I have been helped to realise and remember is that Jesus did not come to be served but to serve. That goes for all believers, not just ministers. Jesus comes and offers to serve us and meet our needs.

Now, lets be clear: He meets our needs, not our desires! In other words, Jesus is willing to help us with the things that we need in life: forgiveness from sin, life transformation, reconnected with God. He doesn’t come to help us get what we want: new car, more money, bigger house.

I was still profoundly moved when I realised that He comes and asks me what I need Him to do for me! In order for me to minister to others, Christ first comes to minister to me.

As I say, I don’t know how I’ll answer that question yet…but I’m glad I was asked it!