Thursday, August 20, 2020


The word  eschatology" is  composed  of the  Greek  words 'eschatos' and 'logos' - literally translated  as  "the word about the last things".  Eschatology   is the doctrine or the word about the last things, or if you like, the doctrine of the future

Everybody has a view about the future, even if it is vague or not thoroughly thought through.

Atheists or Agnostics believe that there is no God.  If this is what you believe, then it is also likely that you will believe that after you die, you will simply will vanish into a state of non- existence.  The effect that this eschatology has on your thinking  will probably lead you towards  living a self-centered, hedonistic (pleasure centered) lifestyle. Since if there is no afterlife, you  have  to get the maximum out of this life. According to this view  there  is no point in living a moral life.

Other major world religions  such as  Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism believe in the existence of  gods or  God. Their followers tend to be mindful of   their continued existence of life after death. They all believe in some form of future judgement and a golden new age. All these religions have a moral or ethical code associated with their respective religion. The fear  of their god(s)  will inspire them to restrain themselves  in  areas  which that religion may prescribe,  because they know  that they will have to give an account  of their deeds before their god(s)  in the  afterlife.

In Islamic eschatology, the Day of Judgement is characterized by the annihilation of all life, which will then be followed by the resurrection and judgment by God. The righteous are rewarded with the pleasures of Jannah (Paradise), while the unrighteous are punished in Jahannam (Hell)[1]. A Muslim will think of the performance of  the  5 pillars of Islam [2] as  his  door  into paradise.  A  radical Muslim suicide bomber will think of his suicide as a pleasing work to Allah, and he will think of paradise and its sensuous rewards in the afterlife.

Salvation and  the future  for a Hindu is called Moksha. Moksha is when an enlightened human being is freed from the cycle of life-and-death (the endless cycle of death and reincarnation) and comes into a state of completeness (Nirvana). He then becomes one with God.  There are four ways to Moksha[3].

The Buddhist sees human evil not primarily as sin against God; human evil is grounded in fundamental ignorance and blindness  to  our true nature.  A Buddhist  works  for his future salvation  by seeking  liberty  from such bondage through the transformation of his  consciousness  towards  an awakening  of his true  Buddha nature.

The Jew will think of his salvation has been primarily conceived in terms of the destiny of Israel as the elect people of Yahweh. Good works and the keeping of religious rites are  seen as sufficient grounds of acceptance before God and entrance into the afterlife.  

This also goes for the many pseudo- Christian groups who teach their followers that their entrance into a heavenly future is by means of keeping a system of religious rites and good works. 

Jehovah’s  witnesses  believe in an afterlife  but  not in  an eternal hell.The Seventh day adventists similarly  believe in an afterlife, but teach the  annihilation of the wicked 

We thus  see that all these religions  have a future state  in view. Their followers think, work and  act accordingly.


Biblical  Christians  similarly live in anticipation of the future life.  Christians believe that they must give a future  account of themselves to God. Whilst biblical Christians have an ethical and moral code and an understanding of the importance of good works   in this life, they know that ultimately they will be admitted into God’s presence only through trusting in  the merits of Christ’s righteousness alone.  Salvation is  through faith alone, by God’s  grace alone, in Christ alone.


It is very clear that the Bible points Christians towards  an optimistic  future. 

Jesus  the Christ, the  promised Messiah of the Old Testament  was miraculously conceived by Mary [4], and born in time to  bring about  God’s  consistent promise  to redeem  a chosen  people  for Himself.  When Jesus [5]  entered upon His ministry, He taught that with Him the kingdom of God had arrived[6]. By His death on the cross He had secured the salvation of His people and by His death He had destroyed the stronghold of Satan[7]. When He  ascended back to the Father[8], He promised to come again to judge this earth, and  to usher in  the new heavens and earth[9] and to crush Satan's present dominion. Christians have a strong and positive eschatology of victory. They have a strong view of the future.

Much of the  New Testament is concerned directly or indirectly with eschatology- with future issues.   So,  in terms of eschatology Christians  are not dealing with a minor doctrine. 

  • The Bible strongly encourages Christians to think about the future and plan for it with the wisdom that God has given them in His Word.
  • Christians are encouraged to think of and plan for their day of death.
  • Christians  think about their  future standing before God.
  • Christians think about  their  material investments now in terms of gaining riches in heaven. Christians think about the doctrine of  future rewards in heaven.  (e.g. Matt 6:1-6)
  • A significant component  of the  completion of their  salvation (death- glorification and  resurrection)  is still before  the Christian. 
  • Eternity  awaits. The most significant part of a Christian’s  life is yet  before  them.

Eschatology makes a difference  to the way Christians  view  and  act in their world.

Christians believe that  their  world must become a better place as it  comes under the progressive influence  of the gospel, as each  Christian  takes responsibility for  the gospel in their sphere  of influence.  This pattern of thinking  was deeply embedded  in  the 16th Century Reformation, particularly  under  John Calvin’s teaching. John Calvin consistently taught that all of life was  under the rule of  God  and needed  to be redeemed for His glory. This led to the incredible spread of   the Protestant theology of the 16th century.

Sadly,  following  the  spread of God centered  Protestantism and  its resultant blessings,   Christians  became increasingly passive  about their future. This may have been  the result of increasing material  prosperity, which tended  to make them unguarded, lukewarm and apathetic about the future.

A number  of thinking Christians  have also argued  that the  advent of the 19th century   pre-millenial,  and  in particular the  dispensational form of eschatology did much to destroy  the  a-millenial and  post millennial  optimistic eschatological frameworks  that once governed 16th century  Protestantism.

One of the strong tenets  of the pre-millenial  view is that the world would  get more and  more wicked. The thought that the world  would get steadily  worse before Christ’s  return, plus the thought that the great tribulation, and the rapture of the church  was on  the  doorstep,  gave rise to  the popular idea that Christians  had to withdraw  from society until Jesus came  to deliver them.

Many Christians influenced by such thinking  have withdrawn  from many major battles that  were being fought  in the  20th century (e.g. the battle for the authority, inerrancy  and sufficiency of the Bible). Many Christians  have been quiet  in the recent  battles of the 21st century  over  issues of biblical  marriage, gender identity, human sexuality  and  anthropology.

Christians now more than ever must remember that the future  belongs to God and to them. 

Eschatological ideas – the way we think about the  Bible and hence the future,  do have consequences!

It does matter how Christians think, pray, work, save, plan, invest, and commit or don’t commit to do things in the present.

Our view of the future affects our philosophy of life.  If there is no faith in the power  and promises of God then  there is no power in the present.  

It seems  as if  the present  church and society are  driven  far too little by biblical  eschatological realities. Modern Christians  tend to  be  more concerned  about existential  issues (personal safety, what shall we eat, what shall we wear, what car shall we drive and  where  do we live)  than they  are  about  the  future  life to come. Few are future minded.

Make this a matter of self- examination and prayer.  Ask God to help you to rethink your life's ultimate  priorities in  the light  of  what the Bible teaches about the future.  


[2]  THE 5 PILLARS  OF ISLAM: 1. Profession of Faith (shahada). The belief that "There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God" is central to Islam. 2. Prayer (salat) Muslims pray facing Mecca five times a day: at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and after dark 3.Alms giving(zakat). 4. Fasting (sawm) 5. Pilgrimage (hajj).

[3]FOUR WAYS TO MOKSHA 1. The Way of Action: This involves carrying out certain religious ceremonies, duties and rites. The objective is to perform works without regard for personal gain.2. The Way of Knowledge: This requires using your mind and philosophy to come to a complete comprehension of the universe.3. The Way of Devotion: Salvation is reached through acts of worship, based upon the love for a God (there are thousands of gods in Hinduism).4.The Royal Road: The use of meditation and yoga techniques. This method of reaching salvation is typically only used by wandering monks.

 [4] Matthew 1:18-25

[5] Jesus’  name – means Yahweh saves ( Matt 1:21)

[6] Matthew  3:2,4:17,23; 16:19; Luke 11: 20 ; 17:20,21

[7] Luke 11:14-23;

[8] Luke 24:50-53

[9] The Olivet Discourse in Matthew  24 & 25

Monday, June 29, 2020

The Ultimate Reason Why We Should Be Against Abortion

The ultimate reason we should be against abortion is because we need to fear God.

This is not a crusade against abortionists.

It is not an expression of contempt for those that advocate such a practice.

I am not engaging in a harsh censure against any woman that has had an abortion. On the contrary, I have a deep compassion for those who suffer as a result of having made such a choice.  And I will labour to help such as are heavily burdened to find peace with God (Matthew 11:28-30). 

You see, I am not the offended one. God, the infinite, holy and righteous God, the Creator of this world, He   is the offended party, and He will not let the guilty go unpunished (Exodus 34:7). I have a deep and pastoral concern for the well- being of the immortal souls of my readers.  

I love God, and I love my community.

But I love God more than my community.

The happiest times I experience are when my community practices that which God loves – righteousness, justice, kindness (Micah 6:8). But when my community disagrees  with God’s Word, and when my community practices that which is  detestable in God’s eyes, then I must labour  to help my community and warn  my community. That is the true work of the Pastor.

God, simply because of who He is, cannot be mocked or trifled with. My community needs to know that. And I must warn my community that the wrath of God   will be revealed against all our ungodliness and unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God! (Hebrews 10:31). 

Dear reader, I mention these things because I truly care for you, and I do not want to see you have to face the terrible wrath of  a holy, righteous God.

Abortion is murder. The law of God says so (Exodus 20:13).  There is no easy way to say this. The taking of a life is murder and there is no difference between that life in the womb, and that life, seconds after it is born. Anyone who is informed about abortion techniques knows that the child must first be killed in the womb, before the child is removed from the womb.    

I am writing this article against yet another attempt to legalize abortion in Namibia. The voices at government level appear to be getting stronger and louder. What appeared to be once the domain of liberal newspapers, the feminist movement and the LGBT lobby is now moving into the political mainstream!  

Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader McHenry Venaani says he supports calls for Namibia to legalize abortion. The Namibian newspaper reported on the 22nd June 2020 that Venaani said that abortion and the rights of minority genders would be some of the topics to be discussed at the PDM's policy conference later this year.[1]  I say that Venaani is playing with fire! And in saying what he said, he has lost  the  vote of every right thinking voter in Namibia.

In the Name of God, and for your own sakes, I beg you to resist the foolishness of those community leaders and politicians that would push now to legalize abortion and who would advocate  abortion on demand in Namibia.  God will surely hold our national leaders and our nation, by implication, accountable for the shed blood of the unborn.  Fear God and shun evil!

Friday, June 5, 2020


The social media  sorely tempt  many people whose tendency is  to let their emotions  fly off the handle without  properly evaluating  the consequences of  their  angry words. 

I see this sort of behaviour frequently on  the social media in general,  and I  dare say that  it has unhelpfully contributed  to the current  racial tensions, world wide, in the wake of the  murder (what else can we call it?)  of  George Floyd  in the USA. 

In the Bible, the book of James helpfully  warns  us concerning the  huge damage our tongues can cause... 

"How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue  is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell..." ( James 3:5-6).

The book of Proverbs likewise has a lot of instruction and warning on the use of the tongue. We do well to rehearse the truths  contained in this book of wisdom. Here are a few samples...
  • Proverbs 10:11  The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth  of the wicked conceals violence .
  • Proverbs 10:18,19  The one who conceals hatred has lying lips and whoever utters slander is a fool. When words are many, transgression is not  lacking, but whoever  restrains  his lips is prudent.
  • Proverbs 11:12  Whoever belittles his neighbour lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.
  • Proverbs 12:19 Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment
  • Proverbs 18:8 The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down to the inner parts of the body.
  • Proverbs 18 13  If one gives an answer before he hear,  it is his folly and shame.

I came across this  helpful article  by  Alan Jacobs [1]. These  are  some helpful  rules to  govern our tongue,  helping us  to  think before  we act. 

May it help me and you to be careful with our words. 
  • I don’t have to say something just because everyone around me is.
  •  I don’t have to speak about things I know little or nothing about.
  •  I don’t have to speak about issues that will be totally forgotten in a few weeks or months by the people who at this moment are most strenuously demanding a response.
  •  I don’t have to spend my time in environments that press me to speak without knowledge.
  • If I can bring to an issue heat, but no light, it is probably best that I remain silent. Private communication can be more valuable than public.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

A Tribute to Pastor Irving Steggles

This tribute was written by Pastor Ronald Kalifungwa of the Lusaka Baptist Church in Zambia. It is reprinted here with permission.

Irving Steggles was the pastor of the Birchleigh Baptist Church (Gauteng- SA), a member church of SOLA 5 - an Association of God centered  evangelicals in Southern Africa. 

I first heard about lrving Steggles when he was considering a move to South Africa from England. A Reformed Baptist Church in SA that had unceremoniously 'fired' its previous three pastors in quick succession had called him to become their new pastor. A number of pastors where concerned that should he accept that call, he would be setting himself up for a short tenure at that church. Our concerns where duly communicated to him but inspite of knowing about the rather disconcerting situation in that church, he still went ahead and accepted that call and moved to South Africa. And although his pastorate at that church was unsurprisingly short-lived he maintained a fairly good relationship with his former flock up until the time of his death.This spoke of his graciousness.
My next real interaction with Irving was at the Grace Ministers Conference at Mount Grace, in 2006 where l was preaching alongside Derek Thomas and Nelson Kloosterman. He was in the audience and appeared rather 'sleepy', like he was not paying attention to the proceedings.He surprised me when he came up to me to introduce himself and to give me a fairly good feed back on what he was learning from the sermons. "He was paying attention after all" l said to myself.
My relationship with lrving really kicked off at the inaugural African Pastor's Conference in Pretoria. He was the organiser and l preached alongside Errol Hulse (The brain behind the APC) and Robert Dickie (his church was one of the sponsors of the APC). We became friends then and even though l did not not sit on the governing board of the APC, he asked me to help source speakers for the conference in Zambia and elsewhere in Africa.Over the years, we spent a lot of time together travelling between cities and countries on the African continent in our endeavour to train pastors.We prayed together, taught together, ate  together (and drank lots of English Tea), and in one instance in Kenya we even acted as mediators together in a church leader's dispute.
Irving passionately loved the Lord.He was humble (i.e. Although he was a much older man and a more experienced Christian, he occasionally sought my advice on various ecclesiastical and pastoral issues and he seemed to take my advice).He was friendly, loyal to his friends,an encourager of men, consistent and a true man of integrity. He no doubt had his flaws too.He would be the first one to admit that he was a man with feet of clay.
Irving was a devoted pastor. He had many bright moments as a pastor at Birchleigh but He didn't always enjoy a thriving ministry. That notwithstanding, he was always devoted to preaching and to pastoring his people. He had a burden for black communities (i.e. Tembisa) and in various ways tried to support efforts at reaching those communities with the gospel with a view to planting solid biblical churches there. He helped inspire many black young men and women to understand and love the doctrines of grace. He also inspired and supported a number of promising black young men to seek reformed theological training (mainly at London Seminary) with a view to preparing them for future ministry in South Africa. Some of these young men are now serving the South African Church as pastors and elders and deacons.
Irving endeared himself to the saints in Africa at large and Zambia in particular.Through the APC he ministered to many and made several friends on the continent. Regarding Zambia, he was a regular attendee of our Reformed Family Conference to which be brought a number of his flock and even a family member. He also actively supported the African Christian University project.
Irving enjoyed preaching in the Zambian Churches.Over the last three years, whenever he had a opportunity to visit Zambia, he phoned me to ask if l could arrange some preaching opportunities for him. Opportunities where always aplenty in Lusaka. And when he arrived at each of the Churches he would  be ministering at, people generally thought he was not fit to preach because he was walking on crutches and had to be helped to stand up and walk to the pulpit. He seemed fit for the bed. But when he began to preach, there was a clarity, an authority and a demonstration of the Spirit's power that was unmistakable and that made people cling to his words and forget about his apparent weakness.
No one could keep him from the pulpit. My guess is that if he had woken up from his sick bed, he would have gone right back to the pulpit.His zeal for ministry was irrepressible. He seemed to be echoing George Whitefied who once said, "...for as long as the Lord lendeth me breath l will spend and be spent for Him" . Truly our brother spent and was spent for the Lord. May the name of the Lord be praised.
We will sorely miss pastor lrving Steggles, but are comforted to know that he is safe in the arms of Jesus and that we will see him again in the glory.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Christians and the Coronavirus

Christians and the Coronavirus
Josh Hooker

At a time when the globe is gripped with anxiety over the Coronavirus outbreak, it is important for Christians to be turning to the Bible for help and perspective.  Here are a few biblical reflections:

The gospel and God’s punishment of sin

The first thing to realise is that this an opportunity for Christians to explain the gospel to others.  Situations like this one seem to result in a greater honesty among people about their fears.  Often people will tell us that they are not scared of dying, but the reaction to the Coronavirus across the world shows that that is clearly not true.  It shows that the Bible is right in its assessment that people need to be rescued by Jesus not only from death itself, but also from their fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15).  We need to use this opportunity to talk about the one who gives hope beyond the grave.

Secondly, we should expect global disease as a sign of the times in which we live in -the end times -the time between Jesus’ first and second coming.  If my reading of Revelation is correct (Revelation 6:7-8; 9:1-21) then not only do these verses describe the age in which we live now, but they also show us that God allows these things to happen so that people will turn to him in repentance (Revelation 9:20-21).

Thirdly, we must not understand this outbreak as the punishment of God on a particular people group for their sin, which is somehow worse than that of others.  We must not think that those who have been infected (and have died) are worse sinners than the rest of us.  In Luke 13:1-5 Jesus discusses the fates of some Galileans who died at Pilate’s hands and some people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them, and states that those who died were no worse sinners than the rest of the population.  He twice states in these verses: ‘I tell you, no!  Unless you repent, you too will perish.’ 

We do not have the right to point fingers at others about God’s judgment because we are all guilty of sin before God and need to turn to him before it is too late.  Tragic events like these happen, the Bible tells us, to warn us all that life is short and that one day soon we will stand before God on the judgment day.  Trusting in Jesus is our only hope of survival. 

To fear sickness and death because of the Coronavirus is to focus on the wrong global disaster.  God has set a day for his coming judgement (Acts 17:29-31).  He loves a rebellious world and waits patiently to bring his final judgement because he wants people to come to repentance (John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9).  That is the ultimate disaster.  The one we must rightly fear -the anger of a righteous God at our rebellion on his judgment day.  Jesus said ‘…fear him, who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell.  Yes, I tell you, fear him’ (Luke 12:5).  It is only Jesus who can deal with our sin problem once and for all time through his work on the cross.

Christians and God’s sovereignty

The Bible reminds us that God is a good God who loves his people, who protects them and rescues them from danger (e.g. Psalm 116).  But that truth does not mean that Christians are immune to the deadly effects of the Coronavirus; it means rather that God can be trusted to be working in all things for our good (Romans 8:28). 

We live in a fallen world and that reality affects Christians too (Romans 8:20-23).  Christians have, no doubt, died (and will die) because of this virus.  But we can be assured that every day of our lives is mapped out in God’s sovereign plan (Psalm 139:16) and that God always does what is right and good.  He has authority over sickness -even death itself (e.g. Mark 2:1-12; 3:1-6; 5:21-43).  He has a thorough knowledge of us as human beings (Psalm 139:1-6).  He knows where the outbreak began (better than the conspiracy theorists!) and he knows where it will end.  The world is not spinning helplessly out of control.  We can rest in his sovereignty.

How Christians must respond

Let’s think about how we respond as Christians to this crisis. 

First, we must recognise our duty to love.  Jesus summarised the Old Testament law in two statements -love of God and love of neighbour (Matthew 22:34-40).  These commands to love must shape our lives as Christians, especially at this time.  We love God and our neighbour by acting in a way that preserves life.  We must take all the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the disease.  We must carefully follow the health advice given to us.  Even though we believe in a sovereign God who orders our lives, we have a responsibility to act wisely and well in this situation.  And these commands to love do not just extend to seeking to prevent the spread of the virus.  As Christians we must actively and courageously serve others where we have the opportunity (Mark 10:45).  Christians should be on the frontline in caring for those who are badly affected by this disease.  God cares for the broken-hearted and the grieving (Psalm 34:18; John 11:35).  And so should we.  As people face illness and bereavement Christians have a duty to love as God loves.

Secondly, we must remember where our priorities lie.  Jesus calls us not to worry about our bodies, but to trust God’s providential love and to seek first his kingdom (Luke 12:22-34). 

Thirdly, we must not be afraid of this disease and the worst it can do to us.   We need to remember that Jesus’ victory over the grave means that death is not the last word for Christians (1 Corinthians 15).  We do not need to be scared of dying because this life is not the end; we live in hope of an eternity with Christ (John 10:27-30).  Even in the face of physical death we have hope in the risen Jesus who has taken the sting of death away.

Finally, as we (naturally) feel concerned about the Coronavirus and its effects across the world, let’s remember that we have a God-given way of dealing with anxiety.  We can bring our anxiety about this situation (and every other situation) to the Lord in prayer so that we can know his peace at this troubled time (Philippians 4:6-7). 

As shock waves about this virus are still being felt throughout the world, we need to be reminded as his people that we have not been forgotten by God.  He knows us.  He cares for us.  And he calls us not to be afraid (Luke 12:6-7; 1 Peter 5:7).

[Josh Hooker  serves as theological  trainer, and is based  at Eastside Baptist Church, Windhoek,  Namibia. Josh  serves  the Namibian church in partnership with Crosslinks (UK).  He is married to Cathy, and they have three children.]

Monday, February 24, 2020


"Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways“ 
Psalm 119:37

Time is a precious commodity, and to spend it wisely is one of the Christian’s  absorbing goals. 
We don’t want to waste our lives.  

So, how do we manage the social media? 
It is very clear that we must manage things before they manage us, otherwise we become slaves of our things.[1]  The Christian is not to be controlled by things, but by the Spirit of God[2]. The social media  greatly challenges  our stewardship of time. 
But not only  of time... 

There are  some subtle challenges  connected to this phenomenon - such as information overload.   So many images and messages  pass through our mind  - each crying out for our attention. It becomes quite bewildering and downright  impossible to sit down and adequately reflect and process all that is being thrown at us from the  many media channels. 

The long history of human innovation proves that every technology has inevitable consequences. It is very difficult to see what a given technology may lead to, and what changes it may produce in society over time. Only time can tell.  
We can  now for instance see the development of consumerism and its related problems. We never thought that  consumerism would produce  an ecological challenge. But consumerism,  fed by the media and advertising is responsible for the plastic pollution that we now face. Everything is packaged atttractively  in plastic  to make it appealing to the consumer, but it leaves us with mountains of plastic that  polluite our soils and seas. 

Intellectually we have become addicted to sound bites. Our attention spans are shorter. Our powers to think through consequences are reduced, because we are  bnow taught to focus on immediate gratification. 

This media  bombardment began  to intensify in the last century with the advent of the Radio and TV. It is now amplified many times over by the advent of the social media. 
Should we be alarmed?  
Should we have reasons for concern?  

Many among us have embraced Facebook … Twitter … SMS… WhatsApp …Google ... Blogger … Others have shunned it. 

Each one has their own reasons.  

I freely confess that I have a love – hate relationship with the social media.  There are times when I think that these   are tremendous forums of information and communication.I have located a number of old,long lost friends via Facebook. I have been able  to see  how people were doing  and stay  in touch  and see their photos. I have been able to send brief communications world- wide, at the drop of a hat. I am enabled to remember people’s birthdays[3].  But there are other times when I find that the social media are too time consuming.  They do have an addictive element.  Also, I confess that never have I felt more connected to the world, and yet, never have I felt more watched. There is more than enough evidence on the world wide web to condemn me for being a Christian.

The social media has revolutionized our world. Facebook is now the most successful civil forum in the world. It was instrumental  in  the    Arab  spring revolution  in  2010 [4] (some called it the Facebook revolution), replacing dictators  and replacing them … well with other dictators.
A new language is appearing.  In 2013, Oxford English Dictionary declared “selfie” to be their Word of the Year.[5] Other new  words are  photobombing and unfriending  and ‘lol’. English, as the most dominant language on the Internet, is becoming a new type of Pidgin English.
The Christian world has not been slow to buy into the social media.  Most churches now have blogs, websites, Facebook pages. It is one of the new ways to let the world know about the gospel of Jesus.  On a number of occasions people have visited our church (and have stayed)  because  they have seen my blog, or our  Church’s  Facebook page.  A number of  my Christian friends use Face Book  and Twitter  to share  Scripture,  and to post  useful  articles  or links  to Christian websites. That is all very positive, and yet, there are subtle dangers!
Tim Chester in his book, “Will you be my Face Book  friend” (2013)  writes, “while  the benefits of  new technologies are immediately apparent, the negatives  are more hidden.[6]   
Let us consider  the apparent  and the more hidden dangers. 
Apparent Dangers
Time wasted on social media.  According to research done, nearly half of FB users (ages 18-34) check in  within minutes  of waking up in the morning. Repeated  checking thereafter absorbs large portions of time.
Constant interruption. We feel the constant need to check our  social media accounts, interrupting valuable time with others. The same is incidentally true for the cell phone. We allow ourselves to be interrupted because the phone rings. We cut conversations with people because the phone rings. The phone rules and overrules. We need to develop a Christian mind on this.   
Not using proper grammar and sentences is affecting the way we express ideas. We are losing  our ability to construct an argument.  
Social Media users  tend to  skim  text  rather than read it.  I am constantly amazed to see how often people misread information posted  on  social media  because they do not read thoroughly. 
A lack of careful analysis and evaluation due to information overload. We know the facts,but we don’t know how to analyze them. We do not engage in  critical thinking.I can think of no better method to promote  critical  thinking  than reading  a book with a pen in hand, interacting,  arguing or agreeing with the writer as I go along. I am forced into a conversation, but in skimming a book I am just looking for information  (which has its place). 
Changing our attitude to learning.  Having Smartphones with their Google capacities means that we can now access information whenever we like.  In that sense technology makes us more efficient.  We do not have to go to a library or find an outdated Encyclopedia Britannica  to get outdated  information, but now have the latest information  at our fingertips.  
But here’s the challenge,  

  • Why learn or memorize when you can google?  
  • Why learn historical dates when you can look them up on Wikipedia? 
The problem is that we are  prone to no longer want to hold information in our minds, preventing us to make connections between ideas.  
Why learn Bible verses when you have your Bible on the phone?  Yet the Bible itself calls us to meditate on it and retain its words. We are to have the word in our hearts and not on our cell phones, “I have stored up your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you”  (Ps 119:11)
Getting hooked to digital cocaine: If you want to know whether you have an obsessive relationship with the social  media,  here is a quick  checklist [7]:

  •   Do you check your FB page often in a day? 
  • More than 20 mins on FB per day? 
  • Do you find it difficult to imagine a day without social media?  
  • Do you ever  gone online  to check  messages/ FB status during a church meeting? 
  • Do you answer phones or messages during meals or conversations? 
  • Do you keep it in the bedroom ‘on’ all night?

More Subtle Dangers[8]
On FB/ social media I can recreate my world to gain approval.  
I have a forum to reinvent myself to the watching world.  
I can create a new identity by selective reporting; by uploading pictures that portray me in a certain way - usually having a good time or looking good. There are no ugly pictures of me. My life takes place on a stage and I write the script, creating or recreating myself. Doesn’t this sound idolatrous?  I am re-creating myself in my own image? Are you in the process of reinventing yourself? Do you see the subtle process behind this kind of thinking? Who is it that made  you in His image? 

The obvious question here is - "that which I am  seeking to portary to the world- is that really me?" Is your FB image self more attractive or more successful than your real world self?"  The Bible teaches me that I do not need to recreate myself. Jesus recreates me. 
My identity is in Christ   and my Christian mind needs to learn to be content with that.
FB/ social media   can create a very “me centered” world.   

An Australian study entitled, “Who uses FB?“,  found a significant correlation between the use of FB and narcissism (self- love).  The study concluded, “It could be argued that Facebook specifically gratifies the narcissistic individual’s need to engage in self- promoting and superficial behaviour[9]. Think about this every time you post something, “Why am I doing this? What am I trying to achieve? Who is at the center of this post? 

The underlying need of continuous posting on social media may be the seeking of the approval of others. This need to be  ‘heard’ by others, and by what other’s should think of us, can be very intimidating. 

Our overriding concern should be what God thinks of us.  “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ (Gal 1:10). Paul here addresses the fact that the Galatian Christians had allowed themselves to be bullied by the information  which the Judaizers gave them,   into taking on another gospel.  Paul thinks  that they were submitting to  the fear of man  which was crippling their  thinking and therefore their actions, thus becoming legalists,  when in fact Christ had set them free. The Christian view is  that we ultimately  stand and fall before God. God is our ultimate judge  - see Paul again in  1 Corinthians 4:3-5. 

Not only can I recreate myself on FB,  but I can measure myself  through FB. i.e. I can rank myself through the number of  FB  friends  or  the amount of followers on my blog and the comments I receive on my blog, or I can score myself through the amounts of ‘likes’. These  become the index of my self- worth,  and again  we point out  that  the Bible teaches that our   identity and worth and sufficiency  is in Christ.

Self - absorption   can cause depression.  A study at Stanford University  found people often depressed after spending time of FB. [10] Why?  FB  is geared to project positivity. Everything can only be liked.  You see pictures of people having a good time, and on holiday and doing things. There rarely are  pictures of someone feeling bored, unhappy  or miserable. In the meantime  back in my reality, the day that I have had  at  work  seems dull and  sad.   And I feel bad. 

 Superficiality:  Listen to this actual FB entrance  which I  actually read  on FB some years ago:“My beloved wife and companion  died  yesterday”. Response: 2 comments and 8 likes!  
I like the  fact that your wife died yesterday?” That  tends to be the problem with skimming. It  does not produce  analysis. It easily fosters thoughtlessness. 

Temptations: Online flirting can lead to relational breakdown. Apparently more than a third of UK divorce filings in 2011 contained the word “Facebook” [11].
What Is The Spiritual Problem Behind All These  Dangers?

It is ultimately  a lack of contentment  in terms of  who we are  and the way God made us.  This   lack of contentment is rooted in our fallen natures.  Through the fall, we like Cain have become restless wanderers in the earth. We are never happy with ourselves and for this reason the  church father  Augustine  wrote, “Oh Lord’s our hearts are restless, until they are found in Thee!” The Bible teaches us that our heart’s content needs to be rooted  in Christ.
In Philippians 4: 10-13 we find the portrait of a contented man – the apostle Paul,   “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

These words were written by Paul who sat in prison because of his faith in Jesus Christ. Jealous and corrupt people have done this to him. He is now awaiting possible execution over their false charges. In this prison, Paul writes some of the greatest words on the nature of contentment.  He does this by way of a letter of thanks which he writes to the Christians in Philippi. He wants them to know that he is very happy and thankful to have received their generous gift, BUT he also wants them to know that he feels himself wonderfully sustained by God in this very difficult situation.  His contentment and his happiness is anchored in the LORD.   He doesn’t want them to think that he had been discontented before the gift arrived,  but he does want them to know that their generosity was truly appreciated. So he combines his thanks with this valuable lesson on the secret for contentment.

Christian contentment comes as we find ourselves rooted  and established in Christ.  Christian joy is not conditioned by human approval, or by being liked (or disliked). It is not dependent on   material comforts, a healthy body or a good job.  Christian contentment is rooted in the fact that Jesus loves us, and if He is with us, no matter what we may lack, we have that which matters most.

Let’s  see the social media  for what they are. They are useful, but we must learn to waste  our precious  time not on  these tools, but in real relationships,  firstly with our Tri-une   God, and  then in terms  of  real relationships, to which we are called  by God  in the context of His body the church.

[1] See Galatians 5:1 for warning
[2] See this principle applied  in Ephesians 5:18
[3] while the list grows longer it  becomes more and more impossible to keep up with the birthdays 
[4] Arab Spring is the media's name for a series of uprisings and protests throughout the middle east, beginning in December of 2010 including Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen.
[6] Tim Chester: Will you be my Facebook friend p.11
[7] ibid p.17
[8] ibid p.19ff
[9] ibid p.22
[10] ibid p.24  A study done by Alex Jordan
[11] ibid p.30


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