‘Engaging someone in the present and embodied exchange of ideas offers a depth of knowing that simply cannot be fully experienced through disembodied media.’

Dr. Jeren Rowell challenges his pastors to weigh carefully their words on social media, but more importantly to be committed to true relationship with others. The NTS CPL will host a webinar on Tuesday September 19th on the topic of social media. Register here: https://cpl.nts.edu/index.php/lifelong-learning/webinars?wid=1085 

Good Morning, Pastor

I have been reading Brian Zahnd’s new book, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God. It’s a good work. A quote that jumped out to me in the context of some other conversations was, “An enemy is someone whose story you haven’t heard.” The “other conversations” I refer to are just some notes I received from friends pointing me to some fairly acrimonious posts that are occurring among Nazarenes. Frankly, I am growing fairly weary of this. More importantly, I have been reminded in my own journey that so many of our “concerns” or judgments of others come in a vacuum of face-to-face dialogue. This is a problem. We confess that ours is an embodied, incarnational faith. We affirm that we are a Body and are members of one another. Yet, it seems that we so easily slip into the sin of assigning all manner of motives to those we’ve never actually met, much less sat down to engage in conversation. I am guilty of this. On several occasions recently, I was reminded that when you actually sit with someone and listen to their story, you can gain a whole new perspective on who they are and why they say and do things that on the surface may seem offensive or at least ill-conceived. Engaging someone in the present and embodied exchange of ideas offers a depth of knowing that simply cannot be fully experienced through disembodied media. This does not mean that all points of disagreement will be erased. To the contrary, they may be confirmed. But it seems truer to biblical instruction to confirm this in one-to-one, face-to-face conversation than through the contemporary sport of ruthless scrutiny of every posted word, or lack thereof. Is someone driving you crazy, making you mad, or even misrepresenting your ideas? Talk to them. Call them and, if possible, meet together. Could it be that in order for the body of Christ to live together in ways that answer the prayer of our Lord for unity, then posts, tweets, and emails give way to Christian conference? And by conference I simply mean gathering, getting together, breaking bread with one another and listening to each other as together we listen to God. For the sake of the gospel, what if our “public square” words were only those that had already been worked out in direct, personal relationship? Maybe our witness would be redeemed. This is how I want to live, by the grace of God. I would simply invite you to join me in surrendering my need to be heard, to be read, or to be right to the better goal of loving others by doing the hard work of getting to know their story, and thereby, to make “enemies” my friends.