I was an early adopter of social media in the early 2000’s. I remember the glory days of Myspace, as I meticulously chose the perfect song for my page and painstakingly picked my “top 8” group of friends. So much has changed over the years with Social Media. Myspace died while Facebook took the reins, quickly giving over popularity to Instagram. Twitter, SnapChat, and Tik Tok all adorn the smart phones of users around the world. The one thing that hasn’t changed is the tone and tenor of communication you will find across all of the platforms.
Peter today uses the terms GENTLE and RESPECTFUL. You would be hard pressed to describe speech found on these platforms as gentle and respectful! Meme after meme mocking those that oppose one’s view and angry responses in the comment sections are starting to spill out into our everyday conversations. To disagree with a point of belief is seen as hostility. It would be easy to talk about “they” or “those people” that behave in this manner, but it is at our front door. It is “we” and “I” who are quick to move from gentle to harsh and from respectful to condescending.
Sometimes the persecution we experience is at the hands of our own ego and ambition. Jesus is THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE; but we’re not. Our journey towards Jesus is just that, a journey. We are fallible and open towards correction. Jesus Followers gain strength not in our immovability, but in our willingness to pivot as the Holy Spirit directs our hearts.
If someone were to scan your social media, what would they observe? Would it be filled with condescension expressed through memes and agitated remarks? Or would they find a person of encouragement and love?
The same applies to our in-person conversations. If someone challenged you on any of your deeply held beliefs, what would your response be? Grace and empathy or irritation and anger?
Paul in writing to Rome reminds us,
4 Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?Romans 2:4 (NLT)
Other verses say, “his kindness leads us to repentance.” God has lavished His love and care on our souls long before we turned towards him. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19, NLT). Jesus orients our hearts towards Him. And even though we may be rightly aligning ourselves to Jesus, we should never use our own valid theological and spiritual insight as a battering ram to coerce other people to turn towards Him. As others experience OUR kindness, we enjoy the opportunity to speak truth and grace into lives that are looking towards Him.
As you journal today, what is God speaking to you?
As a reminder, here are our steps for S.O.A.P:
- Find a quiet place and read the SCRIPTURE of the day. Read it again. Read it slowly. Read it out loud!
- What OBSERVATIONS did you make? What does this passage teach you about God or yourself? Are there any calls to action? Do you have any questions?
- How will you make APPLICATION of this scripture and live your life differently today in light of what you just read? Be specific!
- Let it marinate. Take some time for PRAYER – thank God, confess any shortcomings, and ask to be empowered. Sit for a few moments and see if God has anything else for you.
Here is our passage for the day:
16 But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. 17 Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!1 Peter 3:16–17 (NLT)
We are praying for you!