If you have been on Facebook in the last 24 hours, you have probably heard the news. Evil was acted upon and innocence was lost in a Sedalia area church, a safe haven for the hurting and broken. The events have become too common in our world and yet, we always suppose “it’s not here.” I am not going to post a link to the news article, nor will I refer to it directly. The reason for this silence is the purpose of this blog…

When the news broke, people began immediately posting links to their social accounts. Comments included disgust for the criminal, opinions on justice, and a few thoughts on churches being prime feeding ground for predators. I confess that at first I was shocked…then I was angry…then I was broken. As the 24 hour news cycle has continued to tell the story, I had a thought…

“For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they (sinners) do in secret” (Ephesians 5:12). In a generation of social media, nothing stays quiet very long. I’m not going to argue the merits of exposing criminals and criminal behavior, nor am I going to suggest that the public has “no” right to know. I am just asking you to pause for a moment…right before you post…think. We live in a time where information is readily available (though often false) and people have an insatiable appetite for more. But the apostle warned against such an appetite. In fact, he said we shouldn’t be discussing it.

Speaking of this specific case in Sedalia, the apostle wrote, “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among the saints” (Ephesians 5:3). I understand that some things have to be talked about, even difficult subjects that are unpleasant. But there is a proper setting, time, and place. I’m not condemning, I’m just asking you to consider whether Facebook is the proper place?…

Let’s consider a few things this morning. First, if it was your daughter, would you want it perpetuated on every news cycle and on countless social media feeds? Today, there is a hurting 15 year old girl that will probably spend a lifetime trying to overcome this terrible trauma. Except for the grace of God, she will have the rest of her life to be reminded of these events. As someone who has counseled victims on many occasions, these events will always be there. In the coming months, she will have to relive these moments in court, with attorneys, and be cross examined. What if she is one of your friends on Facebook? Or her parents? Is it healthy, even though the news does not name her, to have to scroll past the story every time she logs on? Our prayers should be fervent for this young lady and for her healing. Second, there is a church – a good church. A group of committed believers are hurting and broken. They are probably asking a lot of questions. There is probably uncertainty in the future. If it was your church, would you want it all over Facebook? I don’t know the facts in the case…I don’t know their security system, I don’t know if this evildoer came in unnoticed,…that’s the point – I don’t know. But I do know some of the folks at this church and though I have not spoken to them, I know they are hurting this morning. Third, there is the leadership/pastors of the church. Speaking as a pastor, every failure of the church you pastor is taken personally. We go over every detail and see where it went wrong, where we failed, what we should have seen…and the list goes on. These pastors are broken for this young lady and her family. Every repost of the news…just cuts them that much deeper.

This blog isn’t really supposed to be about this one evil act – it’s about social media in general. Too many times believers post without thinking about the hurt it causes to another. This time, let’s stop and think for a few moments. The English language could never compose words to express the brokenness in this young lady, her family, and the committed believers of the local church today…let’s not make them see it nonstop in every Facebook feed.

As for the criminal, justice needs to be done. The Bible is clear about that and even who is responsible for handing out that justice (Romans 13). It is the responsibility of the government to bring to justice those who perform evil deeds and to strike fear in the hearts of others who might consider doing likewise. But this young man is a sinner. We believe that even the most vile of sinners can be saved through the precious blood of Jesus Christ. We should pray for justice, but if we properly understand hell, we should also pray for repentance and the grace of God.

Again, this post is not meant to condemn anyone for “sharing” the story…I just want to ask God’s people to think before they “post.” “For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret” – how would this change your Facebook feed?

Held by Grace, Pastor Chris