Social Awareness, Spiritual Discernment, and Forgiveness

But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.” James 3:8-10

I have never liked the old truism, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” It’s a borderline ad hominem fallacy. If someone is correct, even if that someone is a jerk or socially inept, people should give heed to what he is saying. People generally won’t. This reality often works out poorly for me. I have a remarkably low social IQ. That’s not just conjecture; I can put a number on it. A few months ago my former employer brought in experts to test the emotional intelligence of our department; my social awareness score was woefully low. I often times struggle to relate to others and must intentionally remind myself to try and be more socially aware (I even have a daily reminder set on my phone). Strangers reading this blog can judge my words only and never consider my personality because they don’t know me. My wife, family, and closest friends know that I am actually a very caring and compassionate person. However, I can be off-putting to other friends, associates, and acquaintances. There have been many times where people don’t care how much I know because they don’t know how much I care. I experienced one of those times today on Facebook, much to my chagrin and disappointment.

A Facebook friend posted an link to an article with the headline, “’NBC News: All Americans Will Be Microchipped In Less Than 3 Years.’” The article likens RFID chips to the Mark of the Beast. Such a comparison is representative of the end-times hysteria that has recently gripped popular culture. In my opinion, such a comparison is improper and sensationalistic for reasons I will below elucidate. The particular friend who posted the article is a conservative Christian. Unfortunately, her post was typical of a pervasive pattern that I’ve noticed on Facebook. Many conservative Christians seem very prone to post any and every conspiracy article that they can find from internet news sources of dubious repute. Often these articles are some sort of unholy religiopolitical hybrid. Christians, being the recipients of the revealed word of God in scripture and the beneficiaries of the inner witness of Holy Spirit, should exhibit far greater discernment than the world and display this great discernment to it. I believe, in accordance with set of 2,000 year-old books and letters written in Greek by several different authors, that the incarnate Son of God came to earth, died on a Roman cross, came back to life in 3 days, ascended to heaven, and will return to judge the quick and the dead. Some people doubt the veracity and authorship of these writings. To such people, I will defend the veracity and authorship of the biblical text. For example, I may try to make a reasonable case that Peter is the author of both 1 Peter and 2 Peter, despite noticeable differences in the style of the Greek text of the two epistles. If I also believe and pass along every questionable religiopolitical article written from the BaldEagleChristian’MericaInternetPost, I’ll just look gullible, if not politically brainwashed, to the rest of the world. My defense of the veracity of the biblical text will be called into question along with with my discernment. As an ambassador of Christ, making an appeal to the world to accept Christ as Lord and be reconciled to God, I do not want to look that way.

So many people do.

My friend asked a commenter on her Facebook page who questioned the reputation of the news source of the article posted, “Don’t you believe the Bible?”

Taking my friend for a premillenial pretribulationist**, I told her that I personally wouldn’t mind having one of these microchips. As a Christian, I cannot receive the Mark of the Beast, thus these chips couldn’t be the Mark of the Beast. I furthermore noted that since the Mark of the Beast is said to be midtribulational, Christians will be raptured before the Mark of the Beast comes and thus shouldn’t worried about it. Even if Christians aren’t raptured before the tribulation or all all, Christians won’t actually receive the Mark and thus shouldn’t be worried about it. I explained that the Apostle John couldn’t have known what RFID chips were when he wrote Revelation. I finally made the comment, that I already made above, that Christians should be more discerning.

Then I was unfriended.

My friend wasn’t interested in my reasoned, logical response. She was concerned about how I treated her…not today but in the past. I wasn’t socially aware enough to think about the history I had with this particular person. She wasn’t just any Facebook friend, but an old girlfriend. I’m ashamed to say, she is one that I acted sinfully toward. Without going into too much detail, our break-up wasn’t pretty and we both said some unkind words to one-another. Franky, I was downright mean to her. I treated her in a way no Christian should treat another Christian and no person should treat another person. I was downright viscous in some of the things I said to her when we parted ways romantically. We’ve had almost no relationship since that time but we have apologized to one another about how we treated each other. I was surprised that she friended me on Facebook in the past couple of months. I took it as a sign that she was over any past animosity from over ten years ago. We’ve both moved on with our lives a long time ago.

She apparently was not over some of my more hurtful remarks. She reminded me today of the viscous, unchristian things that I said to her all those many years ago. I can hardly blame her, she has faced a potentially fatal illness with the past year. She lives everyday with the realities of an ongoing sickness and I once basically wished her dead. As I’ve observed her struggle to hold on to life at the relatively young age of thirty, my sinful remarks from over a decade ago have have haunted my conscious. Looking back, I can imagine the incredulity with which she must have looked upon every spiritual thing I’ve said on my Facebook feed and every biblically-themed blog article I’ve posted.

God will always believe and accept our genuine repentance but others may not. We can never unsay the hurtful things we say to others. We can never undo the harmful effects we’ve had upon others.

Please learn a lesson from my own life and don’t endanger the witness you have with others. You may never get it back. Also, please remember to forgive those who have wronged you. Jesus Christ offers ultimate forgiveness and reconciliation. Let Him be your example and forgive and reconcile with others.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

**I am premillenial myself but have not yet worked out a specific position on the timing and nature of the rapture.

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