Playful Banter Can Be Really Fun
I am a sucker for a good meme. I readily admit it. Especially when it comes to sports memes. As a fan of the Dallas Cowboys (oops…… just lost a few readers already), I am often the recipient of many……….let’s just say “mildly to majorly” sarcastic memes. But among guys this is understood to be normal behavior when it comes to the NFL. We know that we are just joking with one another, having some fun banter back and forth. I have a co-worker who is a diehard Redskins fan, and occasionally we exchange a funny sports meme………..trying to playfully (or painfully) outdo one another. And, of course, to make sure he knows that I am right about the Cowboys…….ahem…… winning it all this year. That’s the other important reason. Anyway………it’s fun competition. And as long as it doesn’t get nasty or aggressive, it is just part of being a sports fan. Certainly, not everyone who enjoys football exchanges these memes, but most of the people who participate mean no harm at all. We need a good laugh sometimes. We cannot take ourselves so seriously all the time, especially when it comes to sports. Big games come and go. Champions celebrate one year, and are dethroned the next. Teams often have memorable seasons, and then are all but forgotten in a few years. Chicago Cubs fans probably would not agree with me on the “forgetting” part. They may be the exception for the moment. By the way, congratulations on the win!
Our Audience Is Always Watching
However, sometimes we are not talking about the trivial nature of a person’s favorite sports team. Sometimes we are talking about reaching people for Jesus Christ. We are talking about building relationships with people who need their sins to be forgiven. We are talking about becoming all things to all men (1 Corinthians 9:22). We are talking about reflecting the character of Christ in all that we do (Matthew 5:16). We are talking about putting others needs ahead of our own agenda (Philippians 2:3-4). Although I am very conservative politically, I have liberal friends whom I love. In fact, I love both groups. And I have disagreements with both sides on various issues. But if I disagree with them, I want to do it Biblically. I don’t want to hurt them or cause them stress. I don’t want to make fun of them. This is not the way of Christ. Remember, people are always watching. Whether you realize it or not, people look at your posts. Your family sees them. Your co-workers see them. People at your church see them. Millennials see them. Are you being careful about what they see you posting? Are you thinking through your comments on other people’s threads? Even if what you post is correct factually, how is your tone behind it all? Do they see love, or do they see one–upmanship? And please, no jokes about “safe places” here. I know you were tempted.
But Millennials Are Being Unrighteous!
No, only some of them are. Not every protester is being violent, and it is wrong to present all of them that way. In fact, not all of the protesters are even Millennials. Some are X-ers (my age group). And some may even be Boomers…….I don’t know. The point is this: We should be careful not to paint with a broad brush when pointing out the faults of specific people. It is unfair to classify all millennials as liberal protesters who are angry that they didn’t get their way. Or even worse, to present them all as flag burning cry babies is without excuse. Does that describe some of them? Sure. But all of them? No, of course not. The violence on the streets is being committed by wicked people of all different ages. Age is not the problem. The human heart is the problem. And it is as much of a problem for millennials as it is for baby boomers. Let’s swallow our pride and be honest. Some millennials just want to be heard like anyone else. Some of them are feeling very scared right now, and are trying to discern how to best express themselves lawfully. Many of them are very respectful. And this one might hurt a bit, but it needs to be said: Gen X-ers (myself included) and Baby Boomers could learn a lot from some millennials. And don’t forget, some millennials are your brothers and sisters in Christ. Be careful of stereotypes. They hurt. They hurt really bad sometimes.
That meme you post could offend some Christian’s best friend in college. Ya know, that unsaved friend that they have been witnessing to for the last 2 years! Do you think it could hinder the work that they’ve done thus far, when that person (either the Christian or their unsaved friend) sees professing believers posting sarcastic memes about their age group on Facebook? You bet it hinders the work! More than you can imagine. And yes, God is sovereign and He is not going to lose any of His elect. I get that. But that theology is no excuse for us to throw stumbling blocks in the faces of our young people. Our actions on social media (or anywhere else for that matter), have a ripple effect on other Christians. We are supposed to be an example to young Christians…….an example worth imitating. Not an example for them to be embarrassed about. Not an example that ruins their evangelistic labors on their college campus. And our behavior certainly has a ripple effect on how the lost view us. If millennials view us as sarcastic and unfeeling toward them, why should we expect God to bless our evangelism? The Bible shows us a better way: the way of Christ! He didn’t marginalize or mock people when He reached out to them. He simply loved them and told them the Good News that He came to deliver them from their sins. Praise His Name!!
The Golden Rule
Even if some of them are protesting, but they are doing it peacefully and not causing any harm to others, is this wrong? No, they have the right to protest, as long as they are peaceful about it. So, let us be careful not to misrepresent others, especially when we link them with people who are committing crime on the street. It is unfair, and quite frankly, slanderous to even imply that all unsaved millennials are trouble makers. Imagine if they associated us with the worst behavioral examples of our generational age group?! I would hate to be stereotyped that way! You know the command of Christ as well as I do. I am preaching to myself here, as much as I am to you my fellow believers. Jesus said, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12) If we don’t want millennials to stereotype us in an unflattering way, then why on earth would we do it to them? The Apostle Paul said, “Love believes all things.” He meant that we ought to give people the benefit of the doubt, not assume the worst about them. Stereotyping assumes the worst. Love does not.
Use Social Media Wisely
Social media can be a dangerous place. Why? Because people are watching. Millennials are watching. Are you being careful about what they see you posting? Lately, I have written a lot about our use of social media as Christians. Since we spend so much time on that medium, we ought to give due diligence to doing it right………as best we can by God’s grace. So before you post that meme, think……..think hard. If you poke fun at the “Me” generation, what will it say about you? What will millennials think about you? More importantly, what will they think about that gospel you keep posting about? Ya know, the message about Jesus that invites people to come to Him if they are weary and heavy laden. Ya know, the message that you once posted about 10 minutes after the meme showing a twenty-something college woman crying on campus after she found out Hillary lost. Will that meme further conversation about the cross, or will it end it altogether? Think before you post. Think long and think hard. What is funny to us is often anything but funny to our larger, possibly unsaved, audience.
Memes Are Not Always Sinful
No, they are not. In and of itself, a meme is neither righteous nor sinful. They are neutral. Often they can be a source of good clean fun! They make us laugh. And laughter is commended in Scripture, when the humor is of a good sort. Memes are great. Use them when appropriate. Pray for discernment though. Because knowing when it is appropriate to use a specific meme requires wisdom. And we lack that big time. But God has an infinite abundance of it. Ask Him. We don’t always get it right. But He does. And when we fail on social media, turn to Him in repentance. He also has an infinite supply of forgiveness, love, and grace. He will forgive you, and His Spirit will guide you when you are ready to click that all-important “Post” button.
So Christians, if any of these sinful traits describe you, be very careful. I pray that, by God’s grace, we would begin to mortify our thoughtless sarcasm and biting humor. Love is much better than that. Remember, all people are created in God’s image, no matter what generation they belong to.
And on that note, I need to get to work on something very important. The Cowboys are playing the Ravens this weekend, and I have nothing to send their fans yet.
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