fruity

Recent tragic events where high profile people have taken their life or had their reputation destroyed, and the ‘abdication’ of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have brought into the spotlight issues about kindness.

One of the issues is how people use social media. A response to these events that has grown from the general public has been a rise in awareness of the need for kindness. I have been tempted for a while to unsubscribe from some of the social media sites I use because of the abusive nature of some of the comments and the apparent inability or unwillingness of the social media companies to monitor and clamp down on this. I find it abhorrent how some people feel justified in writing hideous things about other people, often only known to them by their public reputation, and can’t begin to understand how painful and hurtful it must be to be on the receiving end of this. (I have not left yet because I feel it is important to try to be a positive influence in the cesspool* of hatred, trying to write positive words of encouragement in the face of the abuse.)

And I almost weep as I write this, but Christians can be some of the worst in being judgmental and condemning others who hold different views to them. How that fits with Jesus saying that people will know that we are his followers if we love one another I don’t know.

Of course it’s not just social media. Look again at how the mainstream media treat people in the public gaze. Every so often when there is a tragedy or they get caught being unethical or illegal they talk about self-regulation and not being intrusive into people’s lives but it seems that they can’t help themselves and before you know it they have crept back into their old ways. And we (the general public) encourage them. If people didn’t buy the newspapers or watch the TV programmes they would either have to change their ways or fade into obscurity, but we fuel their intrusive, abusive and accusative approach to ‘journalism’ by avidly consuming what is presented to us.

It strikes me that recent the call for kindness may be tapping into something that is in the heart of human consciousness. I think it’s part of the way that God put us together – a glimpse of his nature inherent within us. And it’s something the Bible talks about, and which God’s Spirit cultivates within us if we seek it, nurture it and practice it (in Galatians 5, NIVUK):

22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance [patience], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

I don’t think we can generate these things on our own. We need to seek the help of the One who created them. Pray that these things would become hallmarks of who you are. And if you are a follower of Jesus think about your social media profile and see how much of that fruit is evident…

But we can’t leave it to him either. Find ways of doing these things and you will find that they grow faster within you – God’s Spirit will have fertile soil to do his work. And notice that all of them are for the benefit of others (in part or in whole). They are not much good to us if we are not in relationships with other people. But other people will be blessed if we bear that fruit.

And I may be a bit ideological here but what if we all bear more of that fruit, even just a little bit? How much more like heaven on earth will our existence be?

Be blessed, be a blessing.

*If you think I am being melodramatic or overly critical here, just read some of the comments below almost any news article online or when a high profile person makes a mistake.

connectivity

networkSomething very interesting happened yesterday. I posted my sermon joke that I had planned to use on Sunday morning but then didn’t use, along with a picture of a sign about the procrastinator’s meeting being postponed. A friend saw the picture and asked me via Facebook where I got it. I was able to tell her and noticed that she posted it on her Facebook page soon afterwards.

(If you click on the picture from yesterday’s joke it will take you to the source website. Getty Images have made many of their images free to use on blogs and social media, but ask that you use the links to embed the image so that it links back to their site. They aren’t free for general use, though, so do pay for them if you are using them elsewhere).

By the end of the day another Facebook friend ‘shared’ the same image which he had seen on one of his Facebook friend’s page – someone I don’t know at all. It had come full circle. I would love to follow the trail to see where the sharing led me but I don’t have the time. But it did remind me just how interconnected we are in the modern social media era.

I have commented before on how surprised I am at the countries from which people view the bloggages I lob out into the ether. Do you know where the Aland Islands are? Me neither, but someone from there seems to have inadvertently landed on my blog (if it’s you and you have come back, BLESS YOU!).

So how can we make the most of this interconnectedness? (I mean more than sharing jokes, funny pictures of cats and wishing friends happy birthday without having to buy them a card…) I can share ideas and thoughts and get reflections from others that I would probably not have considered myself – using the collective wisdom of a cyber-diasporatic community (a new phrase I have coined – you can work it out I’m sure). When I see a friend’s post and comment on it or reply that can remind them that I am thinking of them, or that I exist and it will enhance the connectivity.

And, for me perhaps the most significant thing, when I see a friend in need (and that can be anywhere in the world) I can pray for them. And seeing a friend’s post of good news can also be a trigger for prayer. In fact I could spend a whole day praying for friends who post online. I don’t think it would be a day wasted…

So next time you see a friend’s post online (or even one of mine) why not use it as a prompt to pray for them?

Be blessed, be a blessing.