A Word From Our Pastor…Michael Priest
In October of 1993 our family was preparing to move from one ministry location to another. I had submitted my resignation from my church and we began the heart-wrenching 2-week process of packing and saying goodbye to people we loved. On the day I submitted my resignation a cute little kitten wandered up to our house. Now, you have to understand, we are not cat people. We aren’t haters, but we aren’t lovers either. I told my tender-hearted wife, “Do not feed that kitten. If you do, it will not leave and it will be ours.” The truth is, I did not want that kitten! Well, that little girl sat in our carport for 2 weeks, meowing and begging for food. When we walked out the door, she would lovingly snuggle up against our legs. She was obviously hungry and wanted attention, but again, I knew if we fed her, the cat would never leave. The two weeks flew by, and on the day we loaded the moving truck to move to our new ministry assignment, the kitten was still there! I knew what that meant: Carolyn was secretly feeding the kitten. When I confronted her she admitted that indeed she had been feeding the little feline because she just couldn’t bear to see it starve. So that day we said our goodbyes, hugged people who had been so kind and loving to us, and loaded our 2 boys (our family was still growing at the time), 2 dogs, and 1 cat into our car and drove off to Biloxi. That day we became cat owners! Here is the moral to the story: whatever you feed will stick around!
In Ephesians 4:30-32 Paul wrote, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
That is a tall order. Yes, that is who Jesus was. He was a loving, kind, forgiving man who never hung on to anger or bitterness and He never slandered anyone. And yes, we are to be like Him, but it is tough, right? I know what Galatians 5:22, 23 says. I know the Spirit of God produces those traits in us, but I also know that the more I feed bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, malice, hard-heartedness, and an unforgiving spirit the more difficult it is for the Spirit to do His work in me. I have recently come to understand that I have been feeding those unsavory character traits. I have become who I don’t want to be. I wasn’t doing it intentionally. In fact, I didn’t realize it was happening . . . until this past weekend.
Social media can be a great tool and a fun way to keep up with friends and family who live far away. But social media also creates a dangerous and fictitious cloak of anonymity. People will say things on social media to others or about others they would never say to them face-to-face. Christians are now using social media outlets to vent bitterness, demonstrate wrath, rant in anger, clamor at the top of their keyboard lungs, slander brothers and sisters, exhibit malice, make obvious the hardness of their hearts, and bear their unforgiving spirits. It seems to me that social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook (not to mention the more student-oriented Snapchat and Instagram) have become a place for either sharing recipes or spewing venom. I have plenty of recipes and I don’t need the venom. I don’t need the venom because it is impacting me negatively.
I understand I am a responsible adult. It isn’t the fault of Twitter or Facebook. I can easily ignore the hatred and anger of social media—which is why I am about to stop feeding the cat. I understand that what I feed will stick around. It’s time for me to take a social media break. So I’m off, disconnected, socially uninformed for the month of February. I don’t know if this will become a permanent disconnect or a social media vacation to rejuvenate my spirit and allow the Spirit of God to make me like Jesus. So if you send me a Facebook message and I don’t respond, it’s not because I am mad at you. If you direct Tweet me and I don’t get back with you, it’s not because you have offended me. I’m just not feeding the cat for a month. And I hope, since there will be no food, the nasty cat that has become my spirit will go somewhere else!