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1248. How Can I Love My Neighbor Through Social Media, Pt. 2

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
The Truth Network Radio
May 11, 2022 7:00 pm

1248. How Can I Love My Neighbor Through Social Media, Pt. 2

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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May 11, 2022 7:00 pm

Dr. Mark Ward Jr. concludes a series entitled “Technology and Entertainment” with the second part of a message titled “How Can I Love My Neighbor Through Social Media” from Matthew 22:34-40.

The post 1248. How Can I Love My Neighbor Through Social Media, Pt. 2 appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.

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Welcome to The Daily Platform. Our program features sermons from chapel services at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Every day, students are blessed by the preaching and teaching of the Bible from the University Chapel Platform. Today, we're concluding a short series on how Christians should use technology and entertainment.

Dr. Mark Ward, Jr. of Faith Life Technology the makers of Logos Bible Software, will be preaching Part 2 of the series. In this passage, Jesus is approached by the Pharisees and gives them an answer to their question that we must understand. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second, which is where we have focused, is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

And the paragraph here ends with Jesus saying, on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Now guest speakers aren't supposed to do this, but I've already done several things guest speakers aren't supposed to do. I see a problem with the decor in this building that needs to be addressed. I'm going to fix it. In fact, I'm going to kill six birds with three stones. I'm going to sum up several books that I wrote for BJU. I'm going to fix this problem in the FMA decor, and I'm going to introduce my chapel sermon.

Three stones will fly, six birds will gently fall to their deaths, and I'm sure we'll go to bird heaven. Don't worry about them. That is much better. I am not criticizing whoever made that graphic.

Just let me be clear here. There are definitely times when the arrow needs to point down. When your reason, guided by the Bible, needs to overrule your feelings. But you might have encountered one of the books I've written for BJU Press, such as biblical worldview, creation, fall, redemption. And in these books I tried to show from scripture why that arrow cannot only point in one direction, biblically speaking. You cannot always trust your reason to tell your heart what is true.

Your reason has fallen like the rest of you. As Dr. Pettit said recently in a message that I just listened to, the mind has been completely enslaved to sin. So, an illustration I've used, when Abby Johnson, have you heard of her? She was a Planned Parenthood clinic director. When she was called back to assist with an abortion, she had given her life to defending and promoting this practice. And suddenly as she saw the baby on the ultrasound monitor, she was overcome with emotion.

What was happening? Her heart, her feelings were telling her a truth that her mind had concocted expert rationalizations to justify. She had justified sin. The Bible does not finally separate head and heart anyway. It speaks of you as a unified whole. God does not command your reason or command your emotions.

He commands you. Look at it in verse 37. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind.

And yes, heart, soul, and mind have their different nuances. But the point that Jesus is making is not for you to carefully parse out all those, but to say the totality of you needs to be devoted to, pointed to God, and something that every image-bearer knows called love. If we are refreshing this year, getting back to biblical basics, finding our brass tacks and arranging them all neatly inside our row of ducks, then we need to let the Bible guide our thinking and our loving and our thinking about our loving and our thinking about our thinking and our loving for thinking, all of it. If we're going to love our neighbors as ourselves on social media, which is my topic for these two days in chapel, we're going to have to reckon with the role that our loves play in our reason. And before I get to three more ways to love your neighbor as yourself, I need to talk about love. One of the charitable writers and thinkers that I have followed for years, John Jacobs, who wrote a book called How to Think, a book I highly recommend and I asked the campus steward to get some copies of.

If you like what you're hearing in chapel in these two days, you want more help, Jacobs has just been a huge help to me as a teacher and as a model. One thing he said in his book is that it's a pervasive misconception that in order to think well, one must be strictly rational, that being rational requires the suppression of all feelings. No, it is the opposite. If you don't love your neighbor as yourself with all the feelings that entails, you won't be able to reason correctly with him or her. Your reason will be twisted in the service of love for yourself or for your tribe, which is kind of the same thing. You will only really and truly speak truth to your neighbor in its full orb sense if you love your neighbor. I don't know that it's possible to speak truth without love. The Bible says speaking truth in love, they go together.

I find that neighbors know if you love them or not, they sniff it out pretty quick. And just as a reminder, look at verse 39, the second greatest commandment in all the Bible. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Now, I've got to tackle a bad idea about this passage before we can understand and apply it well. I assume that you've heard that it hath been said by them of old time that the Greek word agape, agape love, Christian love, is a rational, volitional choice to do what is best for someone else regardless of how you feel.

And agape is indeed the Greek root that's used here in Matthew 22. This is a college audience, I'll get a little academic with you. And I assume that many of you have heard that agape love is independent of feeling. I'm just curious how many of you would say, I've heard that before. Quite a number, not everybody.

It's a very common idea out there. Scholars say it, preachers say it, Christian internet memes say it. I've even heard a secular Jewish psychologist say it. But I say unto you that the love Christ commands for God is one that necessarily includes your emotions, heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love your neighbor like you love yourself, that too includes emotion. You just can't tell me that you love yourself with a cold, dispassionate, rational, non-feeling. The Bible does not teach that your head ought to rule over your heart, that your reason ought to dominate your feelings.

The Bible just doesn't split the human person into interior warring factions like that. The Bible addresses not your reason, not your emotions, but you taken as a whole. You love your God with your whole heart. You love your neighbor as you love yourself. Let me spend one more nerdy, exegetical second on agape love before I get into some more application of the love commands to social media. My brothers and sisters in Christ who insist that love is merely a choice, they're getting after something true.

And here's what it is. You need to uphold your commitments even when you don't feel like it. You do need to obey God outwardly even when your heart is not in it.

Pray, read your Bible, go to church, stay married to your spouse. That's the truth that a lot of this talk about agape love is getting after. But I add, you cannot reduce God's love commands to outward obedience.

You know this. Part of obedience is to feel Godly feelings. God knows when people honor Him with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him. When they say the creed and learn their memory verses for Bible doctrines, but their loves are not oriented toward God. Wives know this too, let me tell you men. And if you want to get super nerdy, as some of you gifted Greek students should do, pull out Logos Bible software and look at all the ways the verb form of agape gets used in the New Testament.

Make a list. It's used for righteous loves but also for wicked ones like the Pharisees who have agape love for the best seat in the synagogues. Or people who have agape love for darkness rather than light. So the best translation of that root word agape or the verb form is just love. Just like the English word love, agape is flexible. It doesn't name a special kind of love every time it appears. And if you want to know more about this, go read my dissertation in the library.

Here's the upshot of a long discussion. Love is what drives all you do. The question is not whether you love, everybody loves. The question is not how you love, I don't even know what that means. The question is what is the object of your love and the amount? Where is your love directed? Jesus said direct the greatest amount of love to God. And second is your neighbor. And how much should I love my neighbor? As much as you love yourself. If you do this on social media, you will be salt and light.

You'll be distinctive, that's what salt is. And you'll be sharing truth, that's what light does. Yesterday I gave three ways you can love your neighbor through social media.

Use the hermeneutic of love, mind your own affairs, pick the best representative of the other side in any given debate. Those are just three of countless valid applications of this text in Matthew. Because look at that final verse, verse 40, the last of the paragraph. Jesus said, on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. So in a very real way, literally everything the Bible says is an application of these commands. Paul said in Romans 13, love fulfills the law. If you really love people, you will end up doing what the law commands. So these love commands have an incredibly wide range of application.

The whole Bible hangs from them. And I want to give you today three more ways that you can love your neighbor through the God-given tool of social media. Number one, work in love to hone your persuasion skills. You guys know the class English 102, right? I'm curious, if you have taken that class or you are taking it, raise your neighbor's left hand. I'm just kidding.

I know you've taken it. When I was in grad school, I had multiple friends who taught the poor hapless freshmen in English 102. Some of these poor freshmen were totally hapless.

Not a single hap was seen among any of these poor students. And one of their teachers told me with deep feeling what maybe Dr. St. John or the venerable late Dr. Horton had said about it. She said, we're wasting such good material on some of these students, the hapless ones, who just don't see how valuable this stuff is. And I remember being young and feeling like I was that student.

I'm honest with you. Feeling like people in here are getting more than I'm getting out of it because I'm not mature enough. I wasn't getting all my teachers were trying to give me. My English teacher friend told me, I'm learning more than my students are. If you struggle with English 102, if you wonder in all caps, why do I have to learn all this stuff? You need to find the Christian loves that should be motivating you to learn all this stuff. Those logical fallacies that you, I assume, still have to memorize, they are absolute gold for loving your neighbor on social media. You need to trust that the skill of organizing your thoughts into a coherent whole of the proper use of sources, of keeping commas as far away from those places where they're not supposed to be as possible.

Those are all tools for love. For taking dominion over the part of the world that God has allotted to your care. So work and love to hone your persuasion skills. When you use glittering generalities, ad hominem argumentation and insufficient sampling, do they still teach that in English 102?

I didn't check, I should have. Everyone's looking at me blankly. Well, they taught it when I was in school and you learned something similar, I'm sure. When you use those things, your opponents in argument won't always know exactly what you're doing, but they will smell a rat and they will feel your hatred for them. I am perfectly serious.

They will know somehow that you are cheating and usually in this fallen world they will lash back. This may be the only time in your life in which you will have a competent person repeatedly telling you how exactly your thinking has gone wrong. That's what an English teacher is and this is the best way to improve your skills. Take it from someone who's an editor and has had the privilege of writing with the help of editors for many years.

All my adult life, I hate not having an editor. Precisely because I love my neighbor as myself, I work to discover and use arguments and appeals that they will be conscious bound to see as fair, even if because their hearts are pointed in the wrong direction, they ultimately go in a different direction. I'm going to give a touchy illustration again because I just don't see the point of Christian love. If it doesn't get me through the disputes and questions I have, why have a Bible if it doesn't help me with the COVID crisis?

I'm still going to try, however, not to take sides or unnecessarily alienate someone. So let's talk about a logical fallacy, insufficient sampling. Think about vaccines. A lot of serious people, you can't deny this, I don't think, believe that vaccines are life and death matters, one way or the other.

It seems to me no matter what side you're on, it's a very, very important question to know how many vaccinated people are dying of COVID or are hospitalized, what percentage of people hospitalized with COVID are vaccinated versus unvaccinated. If it's 50-50, as my barber said to me last week, that's a powerful argument against vaccines, right? But, and I'm not taking sides here, not telling you what I've done, as evidence, my barber cited some nurses whose hair she'd cut. Now, is that valid?

Well, yes, as far as it goes. They have valid experience that they can report to her. But this is the logical fallacy of insufficient sampling if you stop there. And if you use that kind of argumentation with people, you actually are, to some degree, failing to fully love them, only if you've been given the opportunity to know about that logical fallacy.

So this barber has become a friend of mine, and I encouraged her gently, without taking sides. I said, you should probably take a bigger sample. I didn't use those words, but I said you ought to check with more people. You probably ought to check some studies.

That really is the only way to know. Careful thinking about statistics will help you weigh proper loves. We love life for Bible reasons, and we love liberty for Bible reasons. When those two valid biblical loves are in tension, we need the persuasive tools of logic that we learned here in class, in school, to help us know which one should weigh the most in this circumstance. Let love drive you to make the clearest, bestest, most persuasive arguments for truth by God's power you possibly can.

Point number two, seek restoration. Jesus' goal is the restoration of the cosmos to its created intent. He will rule, the Bible says, until all enemies are put under his feet, and then he will deliver the kingdom up to God, who will be all in all.

That's the whole point of history. Now, that will be a time when nothing will be allowed to rebel. I don't have Christ's power. I can't make that happen. But I do want to participate with Christ in that work.

I have his same goal. I want my sinning neighbors, whether they're Christians or not, to be restored to the full image of God, as I want for myself. So Galatians 6 says that if someone is, in the King James, overtaken in a fault, ye who are spiritual restore such in one in a spirit of meekness, the spirit I've been promoting in these two days. If neighbor love means wrapping up my neighbor's good in mind, letting my love extend to him or her, then what is the good that I seek for those with whom I disagree on social media?

It is restoration to the good, repentance from whatever sin is making them wrong, if indeed it is sin and not just human finiteness, which I also try to consider. I wanted to give only positive illustrations of these truths, but I have to give a negative one here. It's a story, actually. I am a proud alumni of Bob Jones University. And before all you judgmental English majors roll your eyes and say, it's not alumni, it's alumnus.

I know that. I am an editor. I am the writer of the Word Nerd column for Bible Study magazine. I am the most prolific red-headed biblical studies writer in Mount Vernon, Washington, I'll have you know. I know alumni is plural, but I don't just have one degree from Bob Jones.

I have three. I am an alumni. Anyways, on one of my three graduation days, I was celebrating with my family, taking pictures in my cap and gown, and my kind and godly brother-in-law was holding my little niece, and he suddenly looked off into the distance. My eyes naturally followed, and there I saw some protesters off campus with a very large sign that was critical of the university I had just graduated from. If you go to BJU, a lot of you already know this, you're going to run into some people who share this critical perspective. Now, I will once again be vague, not tackling the actual issues.

I'm not sure I know them all, to be honest, but I will say, I actually tried listening to these critics who were behind this protest. I did treat them as sincere, as long as I could, which is going to be my next point. And I came to feel that they scored a few genuine points against me and the institution that I loved. I think they revealed some errors in my thinking. BJU, newsflash, has always been full of fallen and finite people. It was BJU who taught me that.

And the Bible, more importantly, tells me so. Surely that is good reason for constructive suggestions to be appreciated here, even if they come on a protest sign. One of my proudest days as a BJU graduate was when we apologized for a past public sin.

I thought that was excellent. But the more I tried to listen to these particular protesters, the more I saw them do underhanded things online and treat people I love with open malice and mockery, the more something became apparent. I ultimately came to realize I couldn't listen to them because I couldn't trust them, and I couldn't trust them because they did not love me.

Or Bob Jones. I looked, but I just never saw any evidence that they'd be glad if we repented of any sins that they were saying we were committing. They didn't seem to have any plan or any thought for what a restored or redeemed institution would look like.

They were like Jonah sitting up on Paris Mountain waiting for God to rain down fire and brimstone on this place. There are some institutions that are so wicked, I just want them completely destroyed. The American abortion industry.

Prostitution, neo-nazism. But you're learning about a biblical worldview here. A biblical creation fall, redemption worldview never sees anything or anyone except for Satan as finally unredeemable.

That would be to limit the power of Christ's blood or the reach of his great scepter that the Father has handed him. Read Psalm 2 and Psalm 110. And if you and I are capable of being redeemed, so are they.

My negative illustration boils down to don't be Jonah. Hold on to hope for the restoration of sinning people that you disagree with. 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter, says that love believeth all things and hopeth all things. It always trusts and hopes. It endureth all things, too. It hangs on even when people don't give it much reason to hope.

If you have to criticize other Christians or Christian institutions in public, and the Bible says you do, the elders who sin are supposed to be rebuked before all so that others may fear. But if that is your calling in a given case, love should maintain hope inside you that they can be restored like you have been. What do you have that you didn't receive, my brothers and sisters? And finally, a third way to love your neighbor through social media. Regard your opponents as sincere, as long as you charitably can.

I'm going to get personal here. I believe I am called by God. That doesn't mean everything that I do is right, but I believe I am called by God to try to rescue brothers who are overtaken in a doctrinal fault, one commonly called KJV-Onlyism. And those of you who came to my lectures, you heard my heart behind this. And I hope graciousness. To be clear, as I was yesterday, I am not opposed to the King James Version.

I absolutely love it. I'm absolutely chock full of King James Verses in my mind. And from the biggest King James ever to appear in chapel, I am confident. But the Bible does not teach that we should have and use and trust only one Bible translation.

And BJU has never held that position. BJU taught me something many years ago to get benefit out of many good English Bible translations, and I've been enjoying the riches of those for 20 years. I want to see the church using and not rejecting our embarrassment of riches in English Bibles, and I'm working toward that end.

I have a YouTube channel that spends a lot of time on this. I try to be gracious. I try to be loving.

I try to practice all the things that I'm saying that you should do. But that does mean I get a lot of interactions from King James-Only brothers online, especially in the comments on my YouTube videos. Now, I love these brothers, even and especially when we disagree and I hold out hope for their restoration. Yet I simply cannot tell you how many King James-Only Christians hear what I have to say about the difficult and archaic words of the Elizabethan English of the King James.

I'm just trying to teach what these words meant back then, and they respond with a one-word argument. Liar! That's what they say to me. Somehow they've read one headline from one video of mine. They've watched 1.8 minutes of my YouTube content explaining an archaic word, and they're already certain that not only am I telling an untruth, but I know I'm telling an untruth. That's what a liar is, somebody who says what they know to be false. Now, love believes the best, and that's not what they're doing to me in that case.

But for me on my channel, everybody gets at least one chance, and usually a lot more than that. I will try to respond with patience as long as I can. There is a passage in Scripture that I follow, the servant of the Lord must not strive. This, by the way, is another false friend of the King James. It doesn't mean the servant of the Lord should keep trying real hard. It means he shouldn't be quarrelsome. But he should be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, which in 1611 meant able to teach, not inclined, patient in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if God, peradventure, that is perhaps, will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth. I pray and work to live by these words. The Bible does not forbid me to give tart answers. Elijah did it on Mount Carmel. Jesus sent withering and excoriating words to the Pharisees in Matthew 23.

Paul wished the Judaizers afflicting the Galatians would emasculate themselves. But I tend to think that these responses were targeted at people who had lots of opportunities to know better. And that is not most of my audience in this debate. But I will never ever call someone a liar unless I have positive evidence that they know that what they're saying is untrue and they're saying it anyway. And how many times has that happened in my entire life?

0.0 times. Loving my neighbor as myself means believing in their sincerity as long as I charitably can. I'm going to end with a real quick positive illustration. I ran into, in an online forum, a very intelligent defender of the King James Version, exclusive use of the King James. He was very intelligent, but it also became quickly apparent that he was what sociologists who study the internet call a jerk. All I'm saying in video after video is that there are some archaic words in the King James that are hard to understand, but he called my work trash and he called me an actual snake. Jesus said, Cast not your pearls before swine.

And how do I know who swine are? It's those who turn again and rend me. So I didn't lash back out. I just decided to avoid interaction with him. But over the course of many months, his comments kept popping up on my YouTube channel. He was weirdly fascinated with my work and he started giving some grudging hints that he found some value in it. And then one day, something inside him clicked in place somewhere and his comments just changed on a dime. And suddenly, though he still disagreed, he was courteous. And suddenly, he wanted to talk with me.

I put him off for a little while, but I couldn't forever and I finally talked. And I said, What happened? And he said, I apologize for all the things negative that I said about you. I used to regard you as insincere, but I came to realize that even though I still think you're wrong, you are sincere in what you're saying. You're trying to help people understand the Bible.

Whereas before, when he didn't love me enough to regard me as sincere, he couldn't understand what I was saying. But when he, by the Spirit of God that was within him, loved his neighbor as himself, suddenly, his heart speaking up to his head, made it possible for him to understand. My brothers and sisters, my young brothers and sisters, my faculty and staff brothers and sisters, by this shall all men on social media know that ye are Jesus' disciples. If ye have love one to another, love your neighbor as yourself.

Thank you, Mark, so much for that engaging challenge. Let's pray. Lord, thank you for your grace and mercy, and thank you for the challenge that we have received in a very special way to love our neighbor. In Jesus' name, Amen. You've been listening to a message preached by Dr. Mark Ward, Jr., who works for Faith Life, makers of Logos Bible Software. Join us again next time as we hear more messages on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-20 02:06:34 / 2023-04-20 02:17:53 / 11

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