Christian Brotherly Love in Online Relationships

Christian Brotherly Love in Online Relationships

A little rant today.

In the past year or so my heart has been broken more than once as Facebook friends I’d come to hold as dear sisters in Christ blocked me for challenging a traditionally held teaching, voicing the wrong opinion or just asking the wrong question. (I couldn’t be sure which it was with some because they never even gave a reason.) There was no dialogue, no debate, no careful searching the scripture together. Just a rebuke, then a “block” on Facebook indicating that they were right and rejected not only my view, but me. I was left with no recourse; no way to talk things through and be reconciled.

I’ve had several friends share their hurt over the same thing happening to them. Maybe it’s happened to you.

We’re grown ups, so we try to shrug it off, take the moral high road and see it as God revealing the person’s true character to us. We forgive. But the experience is traumatizing. It leaves us to do the emotional/spiritual work of reconstructing our worldview and even our personal identity in the absence of our lost “friend”. God made us to be social creatures. Divisions and rejection hurt and leave us ruminating…

Were they ever really my friend?

Were there warning signs I missed?

Is there something wrong with me that caused me to be rejected?

What about our mutual friends? Will they reject me too?

Will there be talk behind my back?

What about all the deeply personal things I shared with them? I feel so foolish now!

Situations like this can make us calloused and distrustful of new friendships. We might pull away from social media (which may not be a bad idea). It’s hard to commit our emotion to a friendship when we know that one misstep can get us “blocked.”

So many of us who’ve come out of churches for our various reasons are finding common ground and much needed fellowship with people we meet online. But navigating the insecure nature of online relationships is still a relatively new thing. In this untouchable, digital environment devoid of the human elements of eye contact and the subtleties of facial gestures (emojis notwithstanding), it’s easy to forget that there are real people on the other end sitting at their computers or on their Smartphones; many who love Jesus and are desperately trying to make sense of these confusing times. It’s easy to forget all the instructions about our differences outlined for us in the New Testament (Romans 14:13,19, Ephesians 4:2, James 3:18, Matt 18:15‑18, Matt 5:23‑25, 1 Corinthians 1:10‑13, 1 Corinthians 12:12‑14).

But we shouldn’t be surprised at this. Shills and trolls exist for a reason and one of them is to perpetuate an atmosphere of distrust and division under the guise of “discernment”; which, unless it’s Holy Spirit-led, feeds human pride. Divisions and strife are always accompanied by pride and an unteachable spirit on at least one side.

Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice. (Proverbs 13:10)

he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, (1 Tim 6:4)

Social media gives everyone a platform to “teach”. We have to be so careful of pride as darkness gains strength in these times.

We also shouldn’t be surprised that this atmosphere is accompanied by a myriad of teachings that are turning believer’s focus (even further) away from their true, blood-bought identity in Jesus as SPIRITUAL BEINGS who are ALIVE in a way that non-believers are not.

  • Consider the Sacred Name movement, replacing the simplicity of a heart-cry to Jesus with a Pharisaic/Kabbalistic focus on the pronunciation of His name.
  • Consider the Physical/Worldly focus of so-called Christian groups who, on the one hand are (rightly) exposing Zionism, but on the other are promoting FEAR, borrowing “truth” from New Agers (ie. Celeste Solum) about the plans of evil men.
  • Consider the political right; Trump and Q followers (again, a PHYSICAL movement), the newly “woke” who are all about #savethechildren. (Don’t get me wrong! Child trafficking is very real and an unspeakable nightmare, but many of us have talked about this for years only to be accused by our church friends of being too focused on the devil.)
  • Consider the parade of fad doctrines and obsession over ancient fables that do nothing to advance Christ’s kingdom or strengthen a believer’s faith.
Just name the twist of scripture; it’s out there. And all of them have one thing in common: the removal/obscuring of the true gospel of Jesus Christ and the believer’s identity in Him which is inseparable from the supernatural indwelling of His Holy Spirit.

“I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” (John 17:23)

And what does removing that truth produce? I’ll tell you what it DOESN’T produce, and that’s the fruit of the Holy Spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (even temper): against such there is no law. (Gal 5: 22-23)

It doesn’t produce brotherly love (Col 3:14).

What we’re finding instead is exactly what we would expect of mere men who are lost and finding their identity the only place they can: in the flesh.

But if ye bite and devour one another take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal 5: 15,19-21)

For you are yet carnal: for while there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are you not carnal, and walk as men? (1 Cor 3:3)

What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? (James 4:1)

Friends; I’m speaking to myself first when I say that before we engage the ocean of information on the internet we spend time in the Word EVERY DAY, filling ourselves up with THE TRUTH. Pray for discernment – test the spirits.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)

And as we try to stay informed, we need to do so with a humble examination of our own hearts, knowing that “knowledge puffs up but love builds up” (1 Cor 8:1). He is LOVE (1 John 4:8). Always keeping in mind that humility and brotherly LOVE are the outward signs of every believer in Jesus Christ.

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. (Romans 12:15-16)

Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:8-10)

The enemy has worked long and hard to twist the gospel, resulting in anemic church filled with believers who lack the knowledge of their true personhood in Jesus Christ and many who don’t know Him at all but tragically think they do. Bobbing about in the sea-of-truth-and-lies that is the online community, that same anemic church needs the anchor of God’s Word like never before.

I’m not saying that there aren’t times to cut relationships and I have also blocked people on Facebook. I’m only saying that, like we would any personal relationship, we always

Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph 4:3)

Beloved; Love one another. (John 13:34-35)



 

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