In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul gave the Corinthians excellent advice when he told them to follow his example, as he was following the example of Christ. Leading by example is not a new concept, yet it’s an often forgotten concept. As parents, we know that telling our children to “do as I say, but not as I do” is an exercise in failure. As Christians, we should also know that telling ourselves that we’re following Christ while acting in ways that ignore His example is also an exercise in failure.
The intention of this blog is to integrate these concepts with my experiences in social media to share what I have learned over the past few years. I’m a work in progress, and I will further note the times in which I have failed to practice what I preach, since my failures may help others to recognize whether their own approaches are consistent with Christ’s example.
A few of my nonbelieving friends in social media drew my attention to four or five of my tweets over the past couple of years that they considered offensive. In one of the tweets, I implied that Christopher Hitchens’ early demise was appropriate since he had led millions to atheism. Christopher Hitchens was a prolific and highly influential writer, which led to some frustration on my part and ultimately resulted in the tweet. In another tweet, I suggested that a nonbeliever who blocked me should unblock me if he is interested in achieving salvation. Now, I know what you’re thinking so I’ll go ahead and admit that particular tweet must have been composed in a moment of indiscretion on my part.
Yet these tweets pale in comparison to some of the tweets I composed over the past summer when my warped sense of humor unleashed itself. In those tweets, I said things such as “atheism should be an Olympic sport due to its extreme mental gymnastics.” Such tweets served to form a schism between me and some nonbelievers I had befriended. The final straw for several of them came when I created a blog based on a handful of meta-analytic studies that correlated atheism with several negative health variables. The blog was accompanied by a few tweets that suggested that atheists were not putting their children on a positive path without giving them the foundation of God. I have deleted those tweets and any tweets that I could find in which I was poking fun at nonbelievers – and I would like to apologize unreservedly to anyone who was offended. From what I have observed, many of them are excellent, caring parents who leave the door open to their children’s decisions to believe or not believe in God.
This apology returns me to my original point: I was not leading by Christ’s example. The last thing Jesus would do is poke fun at nonbelievers. His ministry made it clear that he welcomed people from all walks of life into His life.
One of my favorite stories from the Bible is from the book of Luke 7: 36-47:
“When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.’
Jesus answered him, ‘Simon, I have something to tell you.’
‘Tell me, teacher,’ he said.
‘Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?’
Simon replied, ‘I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.’
‘You have judged correctly,’ Jesus said.
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.’”
The message from that passage speaks volumes to me as it supports the notion that Jesus works most closely with those who need Him most. Many times I have fallen and I often wonder why God has given me so many signs of His divinity, as I fall short of His glory in many ways. I do not have the grace that I have seen in some of my Christian sisters and brothers. Yet that passage informs me that I have even more to appreciate. Though I have fallen often, I have learned from my failures and have grown.
In closing, I would like to thank Professor Flynn and Tony Murphy for drawing my attention to these offensive tweets and suggesting that I formally apologize. I would also like to thank my pastor for his excellent sermon this morning, which influenced the title of this post (1 Corinthians 11:1). God has an excellent sense of timing, and his sermon on being ambassadors of Christ could not have come at a better time. Click here to listen to the sermon: http://www.fishhawkfc.org/resources/sermons/made-for-this-influencing-others-sun/
Thank you for your time.