One click and it's gone!

Galatians 1. 1-12


Think before you type
Our passage today comes from Paul. It is a letter to the Galatians. 

The early church fell into all sorts of problems and Paul had to sort them out and put them back on the right road again.. how often do we face problems and we shout help and someone comes and help us back on the right road again??

We can’t help it. We open our mouths and it’s out there before we know it.  We are in trouble again.  These days it’s not just our mouths that we have to watch, but what we write, with a click of a button our thoughts are right out there in the public domain ready to be forwarded, cut, copied and pasted, and gone viral before we even realise what we have done.

Many of us – including me, want to take those words straight back.  But too late, you have clicked. 

I had a barrister once said to me: when you get a controversial email or text wait 24 hours before answering.  Then write the answer and wait 24 hours before sending, and NEVER send anything if you have been drinking! (I am writing to the adults on that one)

Young people have grown up with text messaging, Facebook, twitter, mobile phones – and the new fad seems to be explicit photos of parts of their bodies.  How can we get the children to understand that those pictures will be there forever?  That once it is out there you can’t take it back?  The concept of forever for children and youth is tomorrow.  They can’t see how much damage this could cause when applying for jobs and if they are nasty/bullying on social media to anyone, the point is coming where you can be prosecuted, and that means a criminal record.  Just because you sit at home with the computer on and the person isn’t there in front of you doesn’t mean that what you write doesn’t have consequences.

This is also true for adults, think before you post!

Just as Paul is writing to the Galatians to help them no social media in those days and if there were I wonder what Facebook would have said about their situation?  But it seems like they didn’t need it as Paul heard what was happening and wanted to stop them listening to the wrong people.  Paul makes it very clear that he wasn’t chosen by man but by God.  This fact was important – he told them twice. He makes it very clear in his first verse 1. “Paul, an apostle – sent not from men nor by man but by Jesus Christ and God the Father.” And in verse 12. “I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.”

In today’s church we have people chosen by God – they go through a time of testing, they go through training.  For exactly the reason as Paul was addressing.  So, that congregations know they are called by God, that what they preach is through prayer from God. 

Our job as teachers and preachers are to make sure that those teaching are trained, and continually assessed.  Also, that we check ourselves – that we take time to listen to God, to take retreats, to talk to our spiritual directors. 

It is our job as those chosen by God – to think before we press the button. 

It is our job to help children and young people to understand that clicking can change lives, in both a positive and a negative way and that listening to those who tell us “it’s ‘ok’ I won’t send it to anyone.” is dangerous and to help them think through how far it could travel.  To help them think through the decision to attack someone online and if they are being bullied by social media, point them in the direction where they can get help. 

As our society becomes more technological so we have to be aware of the dangers, and keep ourselves safe, and those who we minister to, especially the young and vulnerable. 
For more information:

Keeping children safe online

J
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About Michelle Bailey

Reverend Michelle Bailey is the Rural Officer for the Bishop of Brecon and Swansea  She previously worked in Children's Ministry and was ordained in the Church of England. Her blog includes ideas on presenting concepts of faith to young children to the age of eleven and furthering faith development in an educational context. Michelle currently lives in Wales and is also developing a rural ministry blog.
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