Life has really changed. With all of the amazing connectedness we have through social media, we are more alone than ever. We see people via Facetime but we cannot touch them. We “chat” without talking. We “like” without truly feeling emotion, we “follow” without knowing where we are going and we “join” without ever going anywhere. As a result of all of this non-active activity, when someone crosses us in any of these virtual environments we can snap back at them in so many ways with without having to actually face them. We tweet, post, Instagram, email, text – all with anonymity. Funny, Jesus specifically taught us to “turn the other cheek” - not to virtually smack them upside their head! What does turning the other cheek even mean and how do we apply it in both our real and virtual worlds? Is this teaching of Jesus still as relevant and powerful as it was centuries ago?
The world is full of provoking and it is NOT A GOOD THING. First, there is the provoking that takes place among children by way of demeaning and bullying those who seem weaker or different. Then there is provoking on an adult social level as those on various sides of issues regarding personal freedoms and beliefs poke and prod one another. And let’s not forget the provoking on a political level as those on opposite sides of the aisle name call and cast aspersions at one another. Basically, provoking stinks! Now that we have proclaimed that provoking is a problem, there is a verse in the Bible that tells us to provoke one another in a good way. So, how does that work? What are we supposed to say or do and how are we supposed to do it? Can there be a positive place and purpose for provoking?
Peer pressure. When we say those words we typically think about teenagers, school and bad decisions and those thoughts are accurate. Young people face inordinate amounts of peer pressure on a regular basis and its effects can be devastating! Here’s the thing – adults are also subject to peer pressure and its place in our lives and its effect on our lives is far greater than we might anticipate. So, for the sake of not only our young people but for our own sake as well, what do we do about it? How do we recognize address and deal with the pressures of life that press us into compromised circumstances and bad decisions? Even more importantly, how do we reverse the process and create an environment in which positive, righteous and loving peer pressure is the order of the day?