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STREAMSBy John D. Pierce

Age doesn’t necessarily bring wisdom, but we can learn a few things over the years if we pay attention and are willing to consider new light. I claim no higher perch from which to speak than others.

However, there are some lessons gained along the way that have become beneficial to me. Since I have a place to express them, I will — in hopes that others might find them helpful or offer better ones in their stead.

ONE: Beware of comment streams.

Those who have the least to say tend to say the most. And those who can speak publicly with anonymity are prone to rudeness at a level not exhibited in real-life relationships. Due to rampant incivility, some media are eliminating these forums that rarely reveal anything constructive. It’s a shame that most online conversations run to the gutter like summer rainfall. Ignore them.

TWO: Facebook is better for wishing birthdays than expressing political opinions.

That’s my opinion — after watching resurrected online relationships between friends devolve over the years. Sure, there’s a place for politics in social media. But so much posted political expression is simply harsh, factually weak repetition. Can November get here soon enough?

THREE: Avoid the ditches on both sides of the road.

Extremism is dangerous wherever it’s found — religiously, politically and socially. And all truth does not reside in any of us or any political/religious persuasion.

FOUR: There’s a difference between being bold and being belligerent.

Discerning that difference requires some much-needed wisdom and caution. This is especially true for Christians whose “witness” is more condemnation than grace.

FIVE: Ignorance is a particularly tragic condition in that it tends to remain unrecognized by those most afflicted.

None of us knows it all. There is always room for clearer understanding. I keep seeing more and more evidence of the truth in Charles Bukowski’s great line: “The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.”

SIX: Being Christian is hard but not complicated.

Jesus was clear that it all could be summed up in love of God and neighbor. But we keep adding, subtracting and qualifying what he showed and said. The hardest parts are turning cheeks, giving generously, loving enemies and walking extra miles. Many would rather put the emphasis on believing certain things than actually doing what Jesus said marks his followers as being faithful. Go for the hard part; it is more rewarding.

 

John Pierce

About John Pierce

John D. Pierce is editor of Nurturing Faith Journal — the signature publication of Baptists Today, Inc. He is also publisher of Nurturing Faith Books and Resources. Previously he served as managing editor of The Christian Index and as Baptist campus minister at Georgia Tech and Kennesaw State University. A native of Ringgold, Ga., he is a graduate of Berry College (B.A.), Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.), and Columbia Theological Seminary (D.Min.). He speaks frequently in churches, consults with congregations concerning communications and holds interim pastorates.