PAUL AND SNAPCHAT FILTERS
Have you ever tried Snapchat filters? I’m not on Snapchat, but I have a similar app that my son put on my phone when I last visited him in China. It is called Faceu. Through this app, as with Snapchat filters, I can give myself a pig face or bunny ears or a crown of flowers. I can add a photo frame or change the color tone to “sunshine” or “berry” or make it black and white. It’s a fun way to create silly pictures.
You might be surprised to know that this made me think of the Apostle Paul and this specific passage:
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 [KJV] 19 For though I be free from all [men], yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all [men], that I might by all means save some. 23 And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with [you].
Paul did not change who he really was. He definitely did not change the Gospel message. He simply helped others see the Gospel message from the filters of life that they were already wearing. To me, it would be like using a sports analogy to explain the gospel. Oh, snap! Paul did that:
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 [NIV] 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
Or appealing to a common heritage and purpose with believers of different national, ethnic and religious backgrounds. Well, guess what, Paul did that when addressing the Ephesians: Ephesians 4:3-6 [KJV] 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 [There is] one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who [is] above all, and through all, and in you all.
We have to meet people where they are and show them the love of God and the plan of God through a filter they understand and connect with. The Gospel is the Gospel, but we can filter our words and focus on a specific aspect of the Gospel that will resonate with those we are speaking to. Paul did this in Athens – speaking to them thru the filter or from the focus of the many altars and gods they worshipped.
Acts 17:22-24 [ESV] 22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: "Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, 'To the unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,
We all do this to some extent. For example, we don’t teach six-year-olds the Hebrew and Greek roots of words. We teach them “Jesus Loves Me” and how to pray and that they should share with others. We get down on the floor with them and act out good behavior. For teens, we discuss the Christian living concepts to help them in dealing with the pressures they face at that time in their lives. For a dying senior citizen, we focus on having peace within their current trial and encourage them about the reward ahead when this life is over.
Recently, I heard a story about some “church ladies” who decided to try to reach out to the women who danced at a local “Bikini Club.” These are women who live a life of continually being exploited – their bodies on display – for the lustful pleasure of the patrons and the financial gain of the owner. These church ladies did not go in with righteous indignation or condemnation. In fact, all they did was to take food to the dancers to show that someone cared. Here is a excerpt from an article found in the Longview News Journal form December 2016 (note: Teresa was the club owner):
The world of nightclubs is the only life that Teresa knew. That is until this summer, when a "church lady" walked through her doors, asking nothing more than just to get to know her. During the summer, weekly meals with a group of the women from Mobberly Baptist Church transformed into prayer circles in which the women would pray with Teresa and the girls working in her club before it opened for the night.
Those prayer circles transformed into weekly worship services. Men and women from the church took to the club's stage — normally reserved for women in bikinis to dance — to lead Bible studies and worship. Teresa says those weekly meetings culminated in her closing the doors to her nightclub, giving her life to God and getting baptized this past Sunday, ready to start her life anew.
You can read the full article here: https://www.news-journal.com/news/2016/dec/10/the-salvation-of-teresa-lynn-fears/ Powerful stuff.
The church ladies used a filter on their words and deeds – the filter of love. We are called to allow love to filter every aspect of our lives, as Jesus also did. John15:13-14 [ESV] 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. John13:35 [ESV] By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (See also John 13:34; 15:12, 17; and Romans 12:10)
Sometimes we fail at filtering everything through love because we are humans. However, we can determine each new day to put on that filter, letting it change how we see and interact with those around us and how they see us.
Snapchat and Faceu do not have a “love filter,” but Christians should. It is required if we are going to reach each hurting member of this world that needs God and Jesus with the message they need to hear in a way that they can more easily receive it.
Filters on, ladies! Let me know if you try something new to reach out to someone in your sphere of influence.
I welcome your thoughts, comments and questions. You can write me at Nancy@DynamicChristianMinistries.org.