Opposition by legalism 5: By their Facebook status you will know them

A tree is known by its fruit

Matthew 12:33–37

The conflicts of Jesus

40 Blogs of Lent: Day 21

33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Matthew 12:33–37

Ripe oranges on a tree branch
Some people have been suggesting a social media fast for Lent for some years. I do not believe that is a good idea for two reasons.

Firstly, there are a lot of housebound people, amongst them elderly and disabled, who rely on social media for contact with the outside world. Are we to leave them alone? Taking a social media fast is a great disservice to these people.

Secondly, there is a lot of good stuff on social media. Hashtags such as #ActuallyAutistic and #AskingAutistics are a help to both autistic adults and parents of autistic children. May are both in the community that has sprung up there. There is good and bad on social media. Leaving it to the internet bullies would do no good at all. We need to keep it as good as we can by being a positive presence there, not abandoning it for six weeks.

On Twitter, it is by their Tweets that you will know them. Other platforms have a similar problem. We see the bad side in stories in the newspapers and television news bulletins. Bad news sells. The good side is there, but not promoted by the press and TV. I’ll go so far as to say that the good outweighs the bad.

We’ve been here before. Back in the sermon on the mount, Jesus said we will know people by their fruit, here he expands on that. If the fruit is to be good we have to make the tree good. Jesus is talking to the Pharisees here, it is a continuation of yesterday’s passage where Jesus is accused of using satanic power in his ministry of healing and casting out spirits. Like internet bullies, the Pharisees are being negative and pulling people down rather than doing their job of building them up. Unlike most internet bullies, the Pharisees were doing this from a position of power.

It is when you knock against a glass of liquid that what is inside comes out. Disagree with someone online and, depending on the person, watch the backlash. Even when the person is happy to disagree with you, their followers and friends can pile on you. Knock against people and you see what is inside them spill out. Even if you feel no ire it is easy to join in the slagging off of those you disagree with. I have been guilty of this more than once.

Earlier in this passage, Jesus offered forgiveness to those who repented. Jesus was at loggerheads ere with Pharisees who were threatened by the possibility that the people would follow his lead. Their reaction was to spread false accusations.  Which begs the question, Why did Jesus spend so much time with the Pharisees? After all, he could just have ignored them.

Legalistic and judgemental people need to hear the Gospel too. Not all the Pharisees were against Jesus, Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin also. The book of Acts tells of Pharisees becoming Christians. Jesus words broke through the narrow legalistic mindsets and present grace and love to them.

What is your mindset? Is there anywhere that rules or status or money keep you from Jesus? It is not too late, you can still come to Jesus now. God uses all circumstances — both good and bad — for His greatest will.

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2 thoughts on “Opposition by legalism 5: By their Facebook status you will know them

  1. I’ve had to fight for my friends’ right to disagree with me online, because someone comes piling in to fight ‘my corner’ when it doesn’t need defending, when I’m perfectly happy to say, ‘well, we disagree on this one, but I respect your position’. It has even come to it that I’ve unfriended the one who was ‘defending’ me because I objected to their full-on attack on the other person.

    1. Hi Elspeth

      Society, in general, not just on social media, seems to be moving towards polarised positions where there is no room for people with other with different views.

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