Blog Archives

Our failure to T.H.I.N.K. first

Have you noticed the escalating level of harsh and hurtful comments in the public discourse? Does it seem to you that people with differing opinions and ideas are more interested in degrading and dehumanizing the “other” than in listening and learning and creating a better community? I have an idea that might help.

You might think I’m going to throw some Bible verses at you, which I could. But I’m not. It occurred to me the other day that when I take couples thru pre-marital counseling, I recommend a strategy for dealing with important (and often emotional) conversations. It’s an idea I learned many years ago, and I don’t even know who thought it up originally. But it’s this:

THINK before you speak.

And I would extend that to say, “THINK before you post, too.”

THINK is an acronym representing five check-points. If what I’m about to say doesn’t check off ALL FIVE of these boxes, then it would be wise to go back to the drawing board and figure out a better way to say what I want to say. Is what I’m about to say…

  • True
  • Helpful
  • Inspiring
  • Necessary
  • Kind

If you wanted to you could probably summarize all these questions in the idea of “loving one another.”

To clarify, inspiring doesn’t mean all I say is “rah, rah, you’re a great person.” But it does mean I want my comments to inspire the other person to become the best version of themself; to stir up a desire for something better within them. If you prefer a Bible passage, you could check out some comments in Ephesians 4:25 – 5:4, or Jesus very challenging words in Luke 6:27-36.

None of these ideas are intended to say we shouldn’t discuss important, or even difficult matters. But the manner in which we carry on these conversations is vitally important. And the culture around us beckons us to stoop to the lowest denominator, to make assumptions about those with whom we disagree, and to participate in dehumanizing the “other.” Jesus’ plan is for a very different kind of community, one in which people from diverse backgrounds, opinions, beliefs, and traditions become formed into a family of brothers and sisters who are learning to think and act like Jesus himself, IOW to love one another.

This is a challenge. This may be the defining challenge of this age. Jesus himself said that the way in which we love one another would let the world know if we truly are his disciples. (John 13:35)

-Pastor Mark

We need a “like” button

In the world of Facebook, you can “like” someone’s picture, update, status, or whatever.  The more people who click on your “like” button, the better you feel about yourself.  But what if we all had a literal “like” button?

What if you could just randomly walk through the room and hit people’s “like” button?  Think of what a Seneca Creek Sunday worship gathering may look like.  Hundreds of people walk in with the cares of the world on their shoulders.  They walk in knowing they’ve blown it this week.  They walk in wondering if the horrible things others have said about them are really true.  And then…they walk out with the full awareness that they are “liked” by those who know them…and even those who don’t!  They walk out encouraged!  I mean, seriously, who DOESN’T like to be liked?

What’s interesting is that Jesus’ instructions to his followers were to “love one another.”  And as Jean Vanier put it, “love reveals the beauty of another person to themselves.”  Do you remember the last time someone revealed something beautiful about you TO you?  I’m guessing that you remember it very well indeed.  You’ll probably never forget it, right?

If you think that gathering on Sunday is just about listening to me preach, or rockin’ with the music, you’ve missed a big part.  If you slide in after we start, and slip out before we finish, you’ve been robbed!  Part of the value of gathering together is to “reveal the beauty of others” to themselves.  It sounds like, “You know what I really appreciate about you…”  Our gatherings are about conversations that result in hitting someone’s “like” button.  That means yours.  And that means the other person’s.

Maybe the writer of Hebrews was thinking about Facebook when he wrote,

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.  Heb. 10:24

So this week, when you step into the facility at 13 Firstfield, see how many “like” buttons you can press before you leave.  And see if you don’t end up encouraged and ready to take on the week!

-Pastor Mark

P.S. There’s a “like” button at the bottom of this post…in case you were wondering. 🙂