James 1:27 NLT – “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”
This verse hit me differently this week.
See, there’s this weird thing going on in my head recently, and I’ve debated writing about it for a long time simply because I don’t know if I have it fully processed and I’m sure there’s a chance, depending on my wording, I could really piss some folks off.
I feel like there’s this technology induced trend right now where every charity out there is fighting for who is the most charitable. Have you seen it? Twitter wars, Facebook ‘Like’ battles, who can raise the most awareness or get on the most morning talk shows. There’s even people out there that seem to bounce from one charity to another depending on it’s popularity or influence. Folks creating new charities based on other charities, but they do it better. Come on, tell me you haven’t seen this?
This is a good thing….. right?
I mean, what’s wrong with everyone on Twitter fighting over who’s going to give the most clean water? What’s wrong with these charities being ‘popular’? It’s helping. Right?
Have you ever watched someone online and thought, “Man, that must be the most loving, charitable person on the planet. They are constantly Tweeting about what they are involved in and how they are changing the world. How do they even find the time to pour themselves into so much ‘good’?”? Then you’ve met that person and they are too wrapped up in their own world to give you the time of day? They blow you off because you’ve got nothing to offer their ’cause’?
Have you ever felt that way? Or is it just me?
I’ve met some folks, who from the outside look like the most charitable, giving, loving people in the world and have treated me and others around them like absolute garbage because I can’t further their efforts at that exact moment. They are too busy pursuing their charity to even bother speaking to the ‘normal’ people.
Then this week I stumbled onto this verse. See that ‘and’ right there in the middle of that verse? It’s interesting isn’t it? Now, I’m no Bible scholar, I don’t know the original Greek or any of that, but I know what the word “and” means. I know it means “also”.
“In addition to.”
See we’re told, “pure and genuine religion means caring for the orphans and widows”, but that’s where most people stop. Unfortunately there’s that pesky “and” there. ”AND refusing to let the world corrupt you.” Interesting.
How many times have we seen people corrupted by the world through ego, arrogance, fame, recognition? We have shows following the ‘famous’ folks through rehab. We’ve watched pop-stars destroy their lives because of their fame, politicians corrupted by money and power. We’ve even seen powerful pastors crack under the pressure of popularity. I wonder if that’s where that “and” is going.
What about a more ‘well known’ verse?
1 Corinthians 13:3 NLT - “If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”
I wonder what the word “others” means there. Other countries? Other states? Other cities? Other neighborhoods? Other churches? Or all ‘others’? Does it matter if the person sitting next to you at church can’t further your cause? Does it matter if the Home Depot checkout lady can’t fund your missions trip expenses? Or has the world started corrupting?
I wonder how Jesus would have handled this online charity trend. I wonder what he would have thought about everyone announcing publicly how much they are doing to ‘personally’ change the world for the better. But then again, I wonder if he kind of already said something about it.
Matthew 6:3 NLT - ”But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand (*or your 20,000 Twitter followers) know what your right hand is doing.” ( *I added the Twitter part.)
I saw on Twitter the other day a guy laying into MercyMe because he thought that the “theme” of their new song had been over done. Apparently ‘Worship and Love’ is so 2009. He went on to berate the guys publicly for a while and then I saw it. The Tweet that I had been waiting for. It went something like this: “Am I the only one on Twitter who tells it like it is?” then he went on to say how everyone else was weak and he was awesome or something like that. Funny thing is, the guys in MercyMe dealt with it graciously and he ended up apologizing a couple days later. But I thought he was just ‘telling it like it is’?
Now, that’s not even remotely the only instance where I’ve heard someone proclaim on Twitter, Facebook or blogs that they are “just being honest”. It seems that we are all allowed to ‘just be honest’ whenever we want even if that means that we come back a day later and apologize because we realized our ‘honesty’ may have been inappropriate at that time or place. You’ve seen it too haven’t you? Someone spouting off from their soapbox that is Twitter or Blog and tag it with “I’m just being honest here”. Then there’s a whole bunch of comments about how “authentic” they are, or how “real” they are being. Meanwhile the destruction in their wake leaves people feeling beat up and hurt.
I think if we’re really being ‘honest’ the posts would look a little more like this:
I’m an insecure person. Technology has allowed me to have a platform to a handful of people who agree with my views and opinions on certain things. Because I have this circle of people digitally surrounding me I feel safe to lash out at people I’ve never met because I know that a good percentage of ‘my people’ will agree with me.
Because of this digital expression I have also found a small niche of things that I have thought about maybe a little more than others, and can now claim to be an expert on it, thus giving me the right to berate people who feel differently or haven’t thought about it as much as me. After all ‘my people’ will agree with me right? And if they don’t “I’m just being honest and, they apparently just can’t handle my honesty. That’s not my fault. It’s theirs.
Never mind that we are called to love each other, this is an expression of ‘me’ and if you don’t like it, that’s just too bad. Jesus never had a blog or Twitter, so there’s no rules on what can or can’t be done there. It’s fair game blanketed by ‘honesty’, and the way I am ‘honest’ makes me feel better about myself as a person. In fact, when I attack people digitally I walk a little straighter that day because I ‘stuck it to someone else’ and proved to my readers how much I know about my niche topic. It makes me feel good about myself and that’s really what I’m after. That’s what we are all after when it comes down to it.
I know that I’m supposed to put others before me, but I try not to let that affect the way I Tweet or blog because sitting in my room it’s really about me and what makes me feel good. And that’s just me being honest.
So, Kristin laughs at me because pretty much from now until around August any time anything awesome happens I throw out the phrase “It’s a Christmas miracle”. So now with the awesome developments of Twitter and trending topics and hashtags and all that, we can now categorize and follow our ‘Christmas miracles’ as they happen.
So here’s what we are going to do. I know there are “real” Christmas miracles floating around out there, and I absolutely want to include those, but I also want to include the funny awesome things that happen in life this time of year. Like finding a picture like the one above, and the #ChristmasMiracle that these people even exist. Or the fact that we were told all day yesterday that we would wake up to an inch of snow and we woke up to this snowy #ChristmasMiracle.
So, the rules are simple. Anytime you ‘Tweet’ something that can be considered a #ChristmasMiracle funny or serious just hashtag it with #ChristmasMiracle. Then we can go back and check them out here.
Now, I know that everyone has their own opinions on how Twitter ‘should’ be used and I agree with the thought that it’s really best when each specific user is using it in a way that makes them more comfortable and effective. I also know that there’s certainly not a shortage of ‘articles’ written out there about the different ‘styles’ of Tweeting. This is not going to be another one of those posts. This is more of an observation over the last couple days and I thought I’d share.
As most of you know I’ve been working with Billy Currington for the past few months. Now this hasn’t been a SkörInc thing necessarily, but more of a ‘consulting / online presence management’ type of thing. You know starting him off on Twitter, making strategic web moves, gathering content, that kind of thing. Well, when I first sat down with Billy, he had 94 Twitter followers. It was a few radio stations and some fans that were paying attention. Not that big of a deal though, because he had just signed up and hadn’t even started using it. At that point we decided that we’d take the “follow everyone that follows” approach. You know, to boost the numbers. Well, we’ve been using that method for over 15,000 followers now and yesterday we decided to change that. See, Billy has figured out his Twitter experience and it doesn’t involve managing 15,000 different feeds. Makes sense right?
So yesterday, literally all day long, Billy and I were clicking the ‘unfollow’ button. Not because he doesn’t like people, but because he wants to follow the people he wants to follow. You know, like Twitter was made for. Now, one thing I did notice in the fifteen hours of ‘unfollowing’ was how much spam there was out there. I can not believe how many real estate companies, money making schemes, and porn Twitter accounts are following Billy, and in turn he was following back. Not exactly something you want on your list of “Following” right? So, in this ‘unfollowing’ process Billy has lost about 70 followers and my guess is that he will lose about 100 more. But that’s okay right? I mean who cares if @EarnMoneyFast stops following you, right?
So here’s my thought. Billy’s ‘Followers” number is dropping the more people we stop following from his account. Now, that’s less impressive when I go to the label and show them what we are doing. They see the end result. The final number, and over the last two days that number has dropped. They aren’t going to like that. But I see a number that is free from porn and spam and a more cohesive list of “Followers” wanting to connect with Billy.
So here’s my question to all you “Follow Everyone That Follows” people. How do you deal with the porn sites, the money making schemes and the businesses just looking for a massive number? Do you deal with it? Or are you just another one of those same things?
***And here’s the other thing I realized throughout this whole process. How can I confidently and morally advise a band like MercyMe to “follow everyone that’s following them”, when I know that anyone with Twitter can check out their list of “Following” and be subject to an array of adult content? Is it ministry or numbers?
Here’s what I’d advise you to do. Take a second and go browse a few of your favorite “Tweeters” Following list. Check out who they are endorsing. Who they are publicly proclaiming that it’s “okay to follow”. Who they are okay with “Following” themselves. Let me know what you come up with.***
I have an auto-response on my Twitter. Most of you know that. Most of you also have auto-response messages on your Twitter. And while I think they are a hair cheesy, and I’m accentuating it’s cheesiness but pointing it out, I still have one… and so do you. Here’s what mine says.
This is a completely automated message, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends. www.skorinc.us/brodyharper.com
Simple enough right? I mean, I’m accepting the fact that it’s an automated message. I’m telling you it’s an automated message and I’m giving you the option to connect with me on a personal level over on my blog. Seems like a pretty decent situation right?
Well, this morning I woke up to an ‘@ reply’ message from someone apparently offended by my ‘auto-response’. I will leave off their Twitter name and all that to protect them from further ridicule, but here’s what their @ message said:
@brodyharper: Who the Hell do You think U are DM Me With BS.. Dude B Real Or B Fake… Don’t B sending Me auto DM.. I wanna Hear From You!!!
Goodness. That seems a little angry, don’t you think? Now, normally I would just blow something like this off, but I decided to do a little research and at least check out the link that this person has in their bio. You know, to check out their blog or ‘hear from them’ and the link goes to this place. The Christian Foundation for Children and Aging. Seems like a good organization. I wonder how this person is connected. Must be through Christ’s love. Yep, that must be the connection. I can tell. I will be honest though, I’m starting to feel a little like Noah, or at least his third verse.
So, there you are Mr. or Mrs. Twitter message person. Now you’ve ‘heard from me’. And no this was not an automated message… and it still doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.
So, I’ve been thinking about this a while and I wanted to throw something out to you guys and see what you thought. Now, a lot of you have been amazing at participating in Positive Post Tuesday, and this Tuesday, I wanted to try this out with sort of the same mindset. Here goes.
To anyone with a blog, Twitter, Facebook or any other one of the numerous social online network things, it’s no secret that at any given point of the day we can hop on thee old laptop and at the same time hop on thee old soapbox. We can speak our mind freely and openly without really much consequence. And those that are especially gifted with their wording can get away with saying whatever it is that they want despite the feelings of their readers. We can talk about what social networks are stupid, or awesome. We can talk about what our church is doing right and nit-pick everything they are doing wrong. We can discuss drama at our workplace, school or family. The freedom of our speech has never been more available. And I’d like to challenge you… and at the same time challenge myself. Are you ready?
I’d like to see us all who participate online to follow up everything we write with one simple symbol. + (positive) or – (negative). It’s that easy. Here’s the thought behind it. ”Is what you just wrote a positive statement / blog post / Tweet / ect? Or a negative one?” So what’s the challenge? To be completely honest with yourself and your readers. And I dare you to try it. I dare you to add one little character at the bottom of all your Tweets, blog posts, Facebook status updates, or whatever else you put online for the rest of the world to read.
My hope in this whole thing is to really focus on what I am sending out into the world. What’s my “emotional footprint” on this whole interweb thing? Am I one that is constantly throwing out negative (-) statements? Or am I focussing on, what I believe to be, a bigger challenge and keeping things uplifting and positive (+)? Now, sure the world is a negative place, and there will be times that I spout off and say something with more of a negative (-) tone, and I can only hope that I’m honest enough with myself and you guys to put that little dash (-) down there when I do.
So what do you think? You guys up for it? I dare you to give it a shot and tell your readers what you are doing.