The social media site Facebook seems to divide people into two very different and opposing groups. Those who don’t have a problem with it, and probably use it, and those others who have no time for the nonsense which pervades its pages. It is usually the case, that the latter group are very vocal in their distaste of the medium as a way of communicating. So, I have a simple question for you. Does Facebook do more harm than good?
There can be no doubt that Facebook is successful, with over 2 billion active users worldwide by Sep 2012, and used extensively by all ages. But that alone does not mean it is a good thing. I know generalising is not a good thing, but I find that regular internet users are normally on Facebook (ok, ok so not in all cases!) and those not on Facebook are a very vocal resistance group. Maybe there is good reason for this opposition, but what is it based on?
As a Facebook user, let me give you some annoying irritations:
* The posting of nonsense
* Sharing personal stuff that should stay private
* Expressing bad language or outrageous opinions
* Posting something publicly that you wouldn’t say in person
There are these benefits:
* Choosing my contacts (friends)
* Offensive people or posts can be ‘unfriended’ or ‘blocked’
* Finding and keeping in touch with old long lost friends
* Using ‘Groups’ to keep contacts together, for example a Church
For me, it comes down to a communication tool which I may, or may not choose to use. I have given you a start, so what do you think? Is Facebook a good thing, or do the negatives outweigh the positives such that we should pull out?
This question has been on my mind recently, because I read part of a magazine given to me by a member of another faith group which said about the second coming of Jesus Christ: ‘ the righteous dead and the righteous living would be taken to heaven, but the unrighteous will die’. It is the words ‘unrighteous will die’ that got me, so I did a bit of self reflection. Do I believe in hell, or more importantly does the Bible say there is a literal hell?
The group in question believe that the saved will get to heaven but the unsaved will be annihilated, and that from earthly death until the resurrection, everyone is in a ‘soul sleep’ without consciousness until the second coming, and then the righteous go to heaven, and the unrighteous ‘really die’. So, the bad and evil people of this world will not suffer in hell for their murder or abuses, but just fade away. Not only that, but after their earthly death, they would not be aware of their previous existence, never mind their evil deeds. The word that comes to mind is ‘convenient’, after all who wants to think about a place of torment, let alone believe in it? Personal story. Some time ago I met parents who turned from Roman Catholicism to Jehovah Witnesses because their daughter had taken her own life, and their church saw it as a mortal sin, but if their daughter did not go to hell, or heaven, that gave them comfort, hence the move to become Jehovah Witnesses. Seventh Day Adventists among others also hold similar views, but is this right according to Scripture?
The absence of hell from some doctrines does not mean it doesn’t exist, after all the vast majority of mainstream faiths do believe there is such a place, and it isn’t enough to naively say that a loving God would not send anyone there! Isn’t our God one of love, but also justice? Without both there is no balance, or reason for either. That’s what my Bible tells me anyway. So, it’s a sobering thought, but in case you are wondering, yes I do believe there is a place of punishment for willful sin after we die, and in my opinion, that would be a literal hell.
Here we are, into 2014. We made it in spite of the pitfalls of the past year. For many, 2013 will be remembered for bad health, bad news, bad decisions, and the list could go on, but here we are at the start of a new year. It’s like having a blank piece of paper and starting to write your own story. Last year, this year, they are just the same except time has moved on, right? Oh so wrong!
Looking back we can see the whole year as it was. We have the benefit of hindsight, but no one has the gift of foresight to see what we will write on our blank sheet of paper in 2014. So we must take it slowly and patiently. No use in wondering or worrying what we will be doing in September, when we don’t know what tomorrow holds. When I was (a lot) younger, I went to camp and loved the fun and games, especially at night. We didn’t have a torch as we looked for hedgehogs in the nearby woods, but we did have a hurricane lamp that hung on the centre pole of the bell tent. You know one of those useless lights that you held above your head to see as much as you could while stumbling in the darkness, trying to find the path (and the hedgehogs)?
It is no surprise then that we have this advice in Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” There is good reason that we cannot see too far ahead of our lives. Who would really want to know what awaits us in the coming year? I don’t. Looking back gives me good reason to be thankful I didn’t always know what the next step was. So back to the verse. I am sure that God knows what is best for us, and only allows the light to shine on our feet, and that next step we take. Useless for finding hedgehogs, but great for living our life. What is this light? It is His Word. The Bible. So where better to set your year in motion than by reading the timeless light He has given. His Word. It is eternal, and can be trusted to get us through this day, and indeed every year we are given!