If the Apostle Paul had Facebook

I am seeing a disturbing trend on Facebook and I don’t like it.  I recognize immediately that my opinion may not be a popular one, particularly with those who practice this trend – but in the land of free speech, my opinion still counts… and I think it’s still right.

What am I talking about?   The public shredding of ex girlfriends, ex-husbands, ex-employers and ex-friends on your Facebook wall.  In short, it works like this.  Someone wrongs you/crosses you/offends you/hurts you/disrespects you/steals from you/cheats on you/slanders you/gossips about you/or cuts you off in traffic and you, in turn, tell every friend of yours all about it.  In detail.  On your Facebook wall.

While it is true that you can virtually write whatever you want on your Facebook wall, it does not mean you should.   Granted, you may have been terribly wronged.  You may be justifiably angry.  You may have every right to be hurt, or upset or even furious.  Yes, lovers have been known to cheat.  Yes, ex-spouses can make life difficult.  Yes, employers can be jerks from time to time.  Yes, we all have friends that have made us angry or done things that hurt us.  But that does not mean you should broadcast their evils on your FB wall for all the world to see.  As it has been said, “two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Allow me to share six reasons why you should keep your thoughts to yourself:

  1. Your rant is permanent.  Whether it’s a website entry or a Facebook wall – it’s there for good.  You may not realize this, but once you put something on the web, it’s on there forever – even after you delete it.  Think I’m kidding?  This article proves it: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/igeneration/facebook-does-not-erase-user-deleted-content/4808   You need to really think twice about what you post, particularly if it is offensive or mean – even if it’s true.  Today’s party picture can cost you tomorrow’s job or promotion.  Your angry wall rant could actually cause more damage than the harm done to you.
  2. It lacks class.  Class-less people hang their dirty laundry for all to see.  Class-less people rant and rave about the wrongs done to them.  Class-less people hold on to past offenses and make their bitterness public.  Jerry Springer made a whole TV show out of these types of people.   You were wronged, we get that.  Now, go to counseling or write in your journal or tell a close friend about it.  There is no need to share it publicly as the rest of us don’t really want to hear it in that forum.
  3. You have no idea (literally) who can see what you write.   You may think that only your friends can see it.  But if your comment makes it to my news feed, now all my friends can see it.  And they can share it with their friends.  And their friends can share it with their friends.   Within a matter of minutes, your mud slinging can be across the globe in front of God knows who.  It’s bad enough that your drama is on my doorstep.  Do you really want it travelling to other countries too?
  4. It sets a bad example.   Others read your post.  Others deal with difficult people who hurt them.  Others struggle with how to handle their anger/frustration.  Others look up to you.   They may think it a good idea to follow your example and do the same thing.   If I wanted to listen to negative junk, I’d turn on an episode of Cops or Hoarders or The Real Housewives of Whocaresville.   Isn’t there enough negative in this world?   Share the good.  Post the positive.  Tell a funny.  Make me smile.  I already want to cry and scream enough in my day without your help.
  5. You are not perfect.  Do you remember the last time you wronged someone?  Probably not.  Have you ever said or done something that hurt another person?  Probably.  Would you want it broadcast on the world wide web for all to see?  NO!  You say that your level of wrong was less than the wrong done to you?  I say that’s a weak argument.  One of the first things we are all taught growing up is to “treat people the way you want to be treated” (Matthew 7:12).   True, you were not treated the way you wanted.  But “an eye for an eye makes the whole world go blind.” (Mahatma Ghandi)   Recognize that you have hurt others too and learn how to forgive.
  6. Most of the time when you post such things, the person you are talking about never sees it.   Mark Twain once said, “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”  Or as Buddha once said, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”   That’s the way it is with anger.  The hatred in you only consumes you – it never reaches them.   If you need to get it out of your system, go to the gym.  Or punch your pillow.   Or wash my car.  Or yodel.   Whatever you do –  don’t poison my well or wall in the process.

One last thing…

The Apostle Paul did not have an easy life, particularly as a Christian.   In II Corinthians 11 he summarizes his drama:

“I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea,  I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak?  Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?”

Has your day, week or life been harder than that?  

Paul wrote the book of Philippians from a Roman jail cell.  While he was a prisoner in less than humane conditions, he posted the following to his Facebook wall:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  (4:8)

Who doesn’t benefit from that kind of status update?

“Like” me!!

I have a confession to make.  I like being liked.  I like when others like the things that I like.  I like the “like” button on Facebook and use it often.  I like things so often I make a Valley girl, like totally embarrassed.

I find myself uploading a photo on Facebook and waiting for someone (anyone!) to “like” it.   I’ll enter some semi-creative status update and hope that someone comments on it, somehow making my post more relevant.  Or I’ll write a post to my blog and see how many “hits” I receive throughout the day.  (This morning I had 30 visits to my blog before I even woke up!) I like to see what countries are reading my blog.  (Someone from Singapore read it today).   I am embarrassed to admit how delighted I am when someone “likes” a comment of mine on a friend’s page.   In some messed up insecure way, my online self-worth is directly related to the number of times you select the “thumbs up” button or comment on my cyber presence.  It should not surprise you that one of my favorite sights is below.   It is the calculator of how many times someone liked me since the last time I signed online to check, eight minutes ago.

I fully realize that being “liked” online is performance driven.  The more I say, the more I am liked.  The more stuff I write, the more pictures I post – the more opportunities I give others to “like” me, thus increasing my cyber net worth.

What is happening to me???  What have I become?  I feel like I am back in grade school, receiving a gold star on my drawing.  Or flashing back to 7th grade gym glass after being picked by the team captain in a game of kickball.   I LIKE the feeling of being LIKED.

But did you know that God likes you?  I mean, He really likes you. When God thinks of you, He smiles.   If you were to draw God a picture, He would put it on His fridge.   If God had a wallet, your picture would be in it.   If God had a lap, He’d want you to sit in it and tell Him about your day.  He loves hearing your voice, particularly when you are using it to talk with Him.  And I think it makes Him smile big when He hears you laughing.   He doesn’t love you more when you say your prayers.  He doesn’t like you less when you lose your temper.

Honestly, I don’t often think of God in this way.  I sometimes picture Him as an angry God who is out to get me for the bad thing I did today.  He is the sniper God looking to “take me out” after each sin.   Or maybe He is more like the absentee God who really doesn’t care what I’m doing or who I am with down here.   I figure He really likes me when I’m good and He hates me even more when I’m bad.

But then I remember… my kids.

When I look at my children, I smile.  I really like them.  When my kids draw me a picture, I put it on my fridge.  Their pictures are in my wallet and on my phone for daily viewing.  When they are near, I love to get them close and hear about their day.   I love hearing them talk – particularly to me.  It makes me smile big when I hear them laughing.  I don’t like them more when they get along with each other.  I don’t love them less when they do bad things.  I love them simply because they are mine.

I am their loving Daddy.  They are my beautiful children.  I stare at them when they are sleeping.   I think about them during the day.  I give them whatever I have.  I serve them constantly.  I provide for them in every way I know how.  I would protect them from the fiercest attack.  I would help them at any hour.   I do my very best to teach them everything I know.  And there is no corner of the earth that they could go where I would not follow.  There is no crime they could commit that I would not forgive.  And if I needed to, I would die for them without hesitation. That is what I think about my kids.

THAT is how God thinks of us.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39

******* SHAMELESS PLUG *******

“Like” me on Facebook: “Rod Arters, Writer”     ALSO…

If you haven’t heard of Curt Cloninger, you need to check him out.  Curt is a gifted actor who does an amazing presentation called “God views”, a humorous look at 5 different ways we view God.  Here is Curt playing God as “Party Host on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aV7c70l54i4

For more about his ministry, visit him at: www.curtcloninger.com or on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/curt.cloninger