Tuesday, December 23, 2008

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Living in a Twittering world
December 1, 2008
By Chuck Lawless

Chuck Lawless, Dean, Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth, Southern Seminary

If you haven't begun to use "Twitter," you're already behind in the social networking world. "Twitter" is an Internet-based program that allows you to "communicate and stay connected through the exchange of short status messages." That is, you can tell someone where you are and what you're doing at any moment during the day. Dial the Twitter system into your mobile phone, and you can follow and be followed by all kinds of people all day long.

I, too, am guilty of playing the Twitter game, but sometimes I'm surprised by what seemingly insignificant information others share. "Got up early this morning." "On my way to the store to buy bread." "Reading a book." "Working out." "Raking the leaves." "To the office many meetings today." "Tired this morning." "Can't sleep." On and on the text messages go. To be honest, I'm just waiting for someone to let me know when he is having a bowel movement and that kind of sharing becomes the norm. Nothing, it seems, is private in
a twittering world.

But, maybe that's not all bad.

Sure, some privacy is important. The physical joys of marriage are meant to be enjoyed privately. Not every confession of sin should be spoken so publicly that additional problems are created. Some prayer needs are so deeply felt that sharing them with more than a few people is emotionally draining. Ministry often requires us to hold information responsibly, being careful not to make publicly known what is shared privately.

On the other hand, too much privacy sometimes results in tragedy. You know the story a follower of Jesus falls into sin, hides it and soon finds himself entangled in a sinful mess. This course of sin should not surprise us, as it began with Adam and Eve and has continued since then. Having wrongly chosen to eat from the forbidden fruit, the first human beings hid themselves (Gen 3:8). Indeed, they were so deceived that they thought they could hide "from the presence of the Lord God" as if that were even possible! The enemy so ensnares us in his web of deceit that we somehow believe that God Himself does not know what we do in private.

Having studied spiritual warfare and the enemy's strategies for many years, I have watched far too many men and women mess up in their spiritual walk. What I have never seen, though, are believers who just "wake up" on the other side of sin, as if they unexpectedly and unconsciously find themselves there. Instead, what I have seen is the believer who makes one wrong choice that leads to another wrong choice ... that leads to even more wrong choices ... and eventually to a fall. Almost always, secrecy marks the downward process somewhere:

pretending that I am faithful in my practice of spiritual disciplines.

viewing Internet pornography when nobody else is around.

finding it easier and easier to lie to my spouse about anything.

hiding text and email messages so that no one reads my communication with that particular person.

meeting alone to have lunch with that person who is attractive to me.

finding excuses to avoid planned accountability meetings.

Moral failure almost always involves our covering up secrets, even while convincing ourselves that our actions are acceptable. The result is ultimately spiritual disaster. And lest we find ourselves arrogantly inattentive to the warning signals only a fool thinks he is immune to the possibility of falling.

How do we remain faithful when a very real, supernatural enemy seeks to lure us into the darkness? Here is one step in the process: make sure that somebody who loves us ALWAYS knows where we are and what we're doing. If we are never in a place, never in a situation, and never with a person that demands our hiding, the likelihood of our falling
decreases significantly.

Sound complicated? Perhaps, but I don't think so. Call your spouse or email her when you get to work. Get in touch with her when you go to lunch and when you return to work. Let her know when you head home. If you are running an errand and get detoured, let her know. Frankly, you might even find that talking more with your spouse is good for your marriage.

Or, if you are not married, find someone of the same gender to carry out this accountability role for you. The cost of falling is simply too heavy for any of us to give ourselves per-mission to live secret lives.

In fact, I probably need to rethink my opinion about Twitter. If using Twitter makes it more difficult to hide, it's likely a smart move to start sending text messages about everything we do.

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