A few years back I read If You Can Keep It by Eric Metaxas and he tells this story: In 1787 after the last Constitutional Convention met, Benjamin Franklin walked out of the meeting house and was approached by a woman who said “Well Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?” And Franklin responded “A republic ma’am… If you can keep it.”
Benjamin Franklin was obviously talking about maintaining our freedom. In other words, freedom doesn’t just happen and it isn’t some magical thing that occurs on its own. Our founding fathers knew that freedom required responsibility to maintain.
And taking responsibility to maintain a goal or a desired way of life is prevalent throughout daily life. For example, if you want to be fit and stay fit, you have to take the responsibility to eat healthy and exercise. To capitalize on and maintain a goal, we have to take responsibility.
And when COVID-19 stepped onto the scene, the church was given a great opportunity that must be maintained.
In a matter of days, church as we knew it was turned upside down. We went from drinking our coffee, eating our donuts, and gathering in our buildings to drinking our coffee (notice coffee is always present!), wearing our PJs, and watching a live stream. And over the last several weeks the Good News of Jesus’ love displayed on the cross has been streamed and sent out all over the world. On Sunday mornings Facebook and Youtube is flooded with the Gospel! Churches are now doing daily bible studies and live prayer times. And people are loving their neighbors by delivering groceries and checking in on each other. While it may not feel like it, the Church has grown up at an exponential rate.
But that’s not the only digital message that grew. As more and more information about COVID-19 continues to come out, I see more and more experts on my Facebook and Twitter feeds (SEE CERTAIN TIMES VIDEO). According to many of my friends, Bill Gates and 5G networks are responsible. To others, the republicans and the democrats are in bed together to screw us all over.
Not only that, but many have become scientific experts on viral diseases and seem to know exactly what to do to make sure we beat this pandemic. Wear a mask. Don’t wear a mask. Social distance. Who cares? Quarantine the oldies. Build your immune system. Sanitize your groceries.… And the list goes on. And as we have continued to live through this pandemic, it seems that our hate, shaming, and judgment of others has also grown at an exponential rate.
So, what do we have here? Well, we have an opportunity, if we can keep it.
The irony is incredible to me. The Gospel has gone out over the interwebs at increasing speeds… Yet, the same people sharing those links to the livestream are often the same people spewing hatred and more through their keyboard. We have somehow gotten to the point where we think we are so special that everyone wants to hear our opinion.
And it needs to stop. As horrible as this pandemic is, God has given us, the Church, an opportunity… If we can keep it. And here’s how I’d suggest we keep it.
First, decrease your time online. The more time we spend online, the more we get sucked into the vortex that is social media. Stop scrolling. Go outside. Open your Bible.
Second, filter what you do post. Before you post maybe ask some of these questions:
Is this a positive message?
Is this true?
How does this portray Christ living in me?
Is this kind?
What is it about this post that makes me so mad?
Have I considered what the other person might be going through?
Can I have this conversation via a more loving platform (phone call, video call, etc.)?
Even if I’m right, is it worth risking the relationship over?
In times of crisis the church has a great opportunity to step up and be the Church… But we can’t keep this opportunity if we’re praising on Sunday and shaming on Monday. We have an opportunity to share the Gospel in ways we never have… if we can keep it.