Friday, 6 January 2017

Lies our culture tells us

I have a constant love-hate relationship with social media. The main reason I hate it is because it is filled with superficial, twee nonsense. Sometimes I gag; sometimes it gets me angry. You know the type of post I mean. The artfully created (often misspelled) quotations or axioms that make you feel good but hold little actual value or wisdom. They're superficial, often egocentric and selfish and are devoid of any nuance. However, they often reveal something that our cultures believes to be true and important. The biggest problem for me, however, is that they often go directly against Biblical wisdom, wisdom that I believe is profound, true and helpful.

So, here are some lies you can find on Facebook, and here are the Biblical truths instead.

Follow your heart

It sounds so nice, doesn't it? Don't be constrained by the world. Be free! Follow your desires and your wants. But it's all about me, me, me. People are inherently selfish, fickle and emotional. I know when I'm tired or frustrated, my heart is rank with bitterness and anger.

Yes, God has given us all passions, and yes, these should be listen to (sometimes), but there are other ways to seek guidance.

What the Bible says

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
Our hearts aren't to be trusted. So what should we trust instead? Verses 7-8 tells us to trust in the God, and then we will be like trees planted near an ever-flowing stream.

Matthew 6:33 tells us to seek first the kingdom of God. We are to set the priorities of God before our own. The second bit of this verse is an encouraging promise: then everything we need will be given to us.

We are also told to guard our heart in Proverbs 4:23, and in Psalm 51, David calls on God to create in him a clean heart.

We are to in God with all our heart (Proverbs 3:5-6). We should use his word to guide our paths.

If they don't know your value, then you don't need to know them

The first thing is the blatant double standards that people seem to miss in posts like these. It goes along the lines of "if they don't realise how good and significant are brilliant you are, then ditch them like the trash they are." Well, I'm pretty sure that this attitude negates the value of the other person. 

It plays to the innate human desire to be admired or appreciated and respected.

What the Bible says

Our ultimate model (and saviour, redeemer, creator and much more than that) is always Jesus. Philippians 2:6-8 says
Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
Jesus was 'despised' and 'rejected' (Isaiah 53:3). The Christmas story is all about how the God of the universe became a baby. He was later to be rejected and put to death on the cross. If the world didn't know Jesus' value (and still doesn't) then why should we expect others to know ours?

Furthermore, Paul tells us how he became all things to all men in order to win them to Christ. He wrote, in 1 Corinthians 9, how he shared in the weak's weaknesses.

We should not be looking for our own glory or for people to admire us, but instead that God should be praised.

If they drag you down, let them go

This one is relatively similar to the previous idea. However, it suggests that if people are irritating or difficult, they should be ditched as soon as possible. I know there are some extremely difficult people out there that are abusive and cause harm, but this isn't about those cases. Those cases need particular wisdom and it's not really something that can be covered in a simple blog post.

What the Bible says

A good place to start is in Luke 6. It tells us to love our enemies and bless those who ill-treat us. Then there are the many verses on being patient with one another. It's reassuring that it was obviously a big enough problem in the early church to warrant repeated mentions, but it's also important enough that it's reiterated quite a few times. If there are people that drag you down, I'd advise that you pray, bless and build them up. Remember that you will be doing it in God's strength and not your own. He gives you the power, but also receives the glory.

Let's get lost

The idea is to escape the confusion of this world, to be free spirits and to be a reed bent by the wind. Be explorers, be adventurers. Let go of your identity; forge a new self.

What the Bible says

It's all very romantic. But "lost" is our status before our salvation. We were once lost, but now we're found. This is made clear in the various lost parables in Luke 15. We are the lost sheep, coin and son. God is the searching shepherd, the rejoicing woman, and the thankful father. We don't need to get lost, we're already very much up poo creek without a paddle. But thankfully, there's a heavenly search and rescue going on. God longs to find us and to bring us back to him.

What to do with what we read

Often we read something and think, "that sounds nice!" so we stick a digital thumb up and we share it for our friends to see. But we should always be testing these words against Biblical wisdom. If they don't agree with it, then they are wrong. We should be spreading God's truth, not the worlds.

Quick Questions

  • What do you think of these quotations you find on Facebook? Are they helpful or are the dangerous?
  • What have you seen which has frustrated you?
  • What do you think is the biggest lie our culture tells us?

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