Masks are optional.
The Reverend Dr. John Callahan is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Princeton Theological and Pittsburgh Theological Seminaries. He served as associate pastor in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, and as pastor of the Clinton United Presbyterian Church in Saxonburg, PA. He began his ministry with Morrow Presbyterian Church on Sunday, May 4, 2008.
John served on an administrative commission of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta and the Good Shepherd Clinic Board of Directors of Morrow, GA. He also served for six years on the Examinations Committee of the Presbytery, which admits pastors into membership of the Presbytery. He currently serves on the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta and as a Pastor Nominations Committee Liaison to Stockbridge Presbyterian Church.
John’s wife, Tamara, is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and served as Sunday School Superintendent and Moderator of the Presbyterian Women of Morrow Church. She participates in the Sunday School as a teacher of our fourth and fifth graders and in the music program of Morrow Church, playing the piano and singing in the choir. She and John have two children, Parker and Amanda. Parker graduated from Union Grove High School and is enrolled at the University of Maryland with a focus on architecture. His talent is the trumpet, which he plays during Sunday worship. Amanda is a Sophmore at Valdosta State University. She shares her talent of singing in our church. She joined the Children’s Choir of Spivey Hall for five years and sang and danced for her school through the Advanced Women’s Chorus and Union Groove.
Since we are using Facebook in broadcasting our worship services, it might be a good time to talk about how to deal with negativity on said social medium. The same may apply to TikTok, YouTube, emails, texts, and other means of communication over the Internet.
Back in the early 2000s, the TV program The West Wing aired an episode in which Donna Moss, the Senior Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff, discovers a website devoted to her boss. The site is called LemonLyman.com, and said boss Josh Lyman chooses to get caught up in the conversations. Soon, things fall apart. The fans do not believe he is the real Deputy Chief of Staff to the President, but Josh feels obliged to prove them wrong. A battle of words ensues, and Donna has to step in to stop Josh. He will win no battles with what he thinks are correct comments about himself.1
He should have read Proverbs 9:7-8 which says, “Whoever corrects a scoffer wins abuse; whoever rebukes the wicked gets hurt. A scoffer who is rebuked will only hate you; the wise, when rebuked, will love you.” If we post anything on social media, at some point we may get a Thumbs Down. We may receive comments from a person we don’t know from Adam or Eve, telling us how wrong we are. The question is not how to respond but should we respond. Is it necessary to counteract what we may consider misinformation or even attacks on our character? Is it worth escalating the tension?
God willing, we don’t get into heated exchanges over the Internet, trying to outdo another person word for word and only increasing blood pressures. Each person feels the need to prove a point and nothing is proven. People only end up hating one another. Again, is it worth it? If it gets that personal, it truly is time to stop. Maybe it is time to step away from social media altogether.
The Proverb above speaks of scoffers. In an article I read from BibleStudyMagazine, scoffers use words or actions to deride people of faith. They vehemently oppose “moral behavior and genuine interpersonal decency.” They use “sarcasm, cruel humor, and a twisted wit” to make people of faith look bad.2 Sounds like the inflammatory commenters we might see on social media, whether the topic have to do with God or not. The article says, supported by Proverbs 9:6-7, that if we try to face off with such people, we will be met by hatred and violence. We will get hurt, and nobody wants that.
So, the question again is not how to respond but should we respond. Are we dealing with people who could understand us, and we could understand them; or are we dealing with individuals who just like to insert chaos and pain in the comments? Do such people have the ability to learn and grow, or are they stuck in their negative, conflict-ridden ways?
Better to leave scoffers alone. Better to keep blood pressures even and any negativity absent. A Thumbs down might come our way. Someone might think we are stupid for what we posted. Let it be. God’s peace will return to us, and we will remain unscathed.
Peace in Christ,
Rev. Dr. John
2 Duane Garrett, “Handling Online Scoffers,” BibleStudyMagazine, July/August 2021, 34.