“Do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them….” (Jeremiah 45:5).
“Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, with things too profound for me.” (Psalm 131:1).
We’ve been having this little give-and-take on Facebook. As one who enjoys stirring the pot or provoking comment, I often throw out a subject just to watch people spar. But this time I got in a little deeper than I’d planned.
All last week, I worked at the Muskogee Children’s Camp, held at Kiamichi Baptist Assembly in remote Oklahoma. I spoke twice a day and sketched all 500 attendees. It was a full week, and the weather was scorching. With no newspapers, no radio and television, the only news any of us heard came from our cell phones. (What about our laptops? Getting the internet required jumping through too many hoops, so I left mine in the car all week.) The point is: no news at all last week.
That’s why, when I returned to (ahem) civilization and heard about the Chick-Fil-A thing in the news, I was unaware as to what had taken place. Apparently, the head of the company, Dan Cathey, had said something in a news conference that ignited a firestorm of reaction from gay activists, and Christian activists got involved. It will not come as a surprise to anyone on Facebook to learn that a lot of the Lord’s people have strong feelings on such matters.
And that’s when I got in trouble.
I posted on Facebook a note that said something like, “Can I just say that I wish we lived in a world where restaurants did not take stands on politics and we don’t have to wonder about what kind of political statement we’re making when we go out to eat?”
Boom! Explosion of comments. And no one was neutral.
Some close friends thought I had gone over to the dark side, wondered how I could make such a statement, why I was so against Chick Fil-A, and such.
When I protested that there was not a single word in my post about that restaurant, that I had in mind restaurants on both sides of the conservative/liberal issues, and that I had not kept up with what Dan Cathey had said, then they hit me about going off on something I’m not informed about. Again, I tried to respond that I was just wishing for a world where our society is not torn apart by such.
Some hit me for calling “family vs. gay marriage” a political issue. I said no such thing, of course. They were reading that situation into my statement.
My wife wasn’t a lot of help. (She’s not on Facebook and is only now venturing into email.) When I told her of this, she said, “I don’t understand why you felt the need to put a statement out there in the first place.” I tried to explain that “need” has nothing to do with it, that nothing I say on Facebook has the first thing to do with “need.” My posts vary a good deal, but the scope ranges from entertainment (“let’s write a joke”) and amusement (“something this kid said at camp last week”) to inspiration (“here’s a scripture that blesses me”) to announcements (“I’ll be preaching at this church next Sunday”).
A recent blog of ours (two articles before this one) was titled “We ought to be ashamed.” I tried to address this persecution complex some of us Christians (particularly in this country) have, which enlarges every critical comment made by any public figure and attacks any group which seems to be anti-Christian.
That’s what happened when Mr. Cathey spoke out on the gay marriage thing, if that’s what he did. Gay activists rallied to attack his restaurant and Christian activists awakened to a threat which must be dealt with.
One wonders about the Lord’s well-meaning children who are always on the lookout for anyone attacking God or Jesus or the Church. Some of them are mean-spirited toward the “enemy” and can be downright hostile to any brother or sister in Christ who disagrees with them.
Last night, after Margaret and I had our discussion about Facebook warfare, I was reading in II Kings and came across a statement that was both funny and profound, appropriate and convicting.
After Judah’s King Amaziah had conducted a successful warfare against Edom–slaughtering 10,000 of its people!–he began to look elsewhere to see whom he might take on. Just to his north lay Israel, the nation of Judah’s brothers and sisters in the Lord. For reasons never explained, Amaziah sent a message to King Jehoash, ruler of Israel: “Come, let us face one another in battle.”
Jehoash’s response is a beauty. He said, “You have indeed defeated Edom, and your heart has lifted you up. Now, enjoy your glory and stay at home. After all, why should you meddle with trouble and fail miserably?” (II Kings 14:1-10)
Enjoy your glory and stay at home.
Good advice is where you find it.
Amaziah, of course, was on a roll and not in the mood to take advice. So, he lined up his army, went out to fight Israel, and lost big-time. He was actually captured by Jehoash, and later was killed by his own people, who resented his high-handed ways.
God said through Jeremiah, “Do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them.” (Jeremiah 45:5)
Our pride refuses to let us stay at home and enjoy what God has provided, but itches for new conquests, for greater influence, for notoriety and fame or something. None of it good.
In the United States today, God’s people have a smorgasbord of choices on moral issues, everything from abortion to capital punishment, from the mistreatment of the poor to the favoritism shown the rich, from prejudice against Christian companies to hostility toward campus organizations.
Some of us–particularly those of us who rarely attend church, do not tithe our incomes, never share our faith in Jesus, and hardly know one end of the Holy Bible from the other–feel a burning desire to wax eloquent on all issues about which we feel strongly.
Feeling strongly about a subject, we mistakenly conclude, surely must mean that the Living God would have us speak out in defense of the good and opposition of the bad.
Clearly, it has never occurred to some that the most Christlike thing a restaurant owned by the Lord’s children can do would be to serve one and all in the way Jesus would, and “to let our light so shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify the Father who is in Heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Sometimes, the Lord wants us to speak up and take a stand. Sometimes He wants us to sit down and be quiet.
“Oh Lord, help me to know when to do what.
“And, Father, make me contented with what You have provided. May I love all those whom Thou hast created whether we agree or not. And when I venture forth to take a stand on issues of great importance, keep me from prideful statements of my position, harshness and mean-spiritedness toward my opponents, and unkind words toward my brethren who take no position or a different position from mine. For Jesus’ sake, amen.”