Christians and Social Networks

On November 13th, 2016 elder Denis Pomerleau in his sermon raised the following question “What’s my priority in life as a Christian?” This question fell on me like a bomb and inspired me to do some reflecting of my own about the place of social networks in the Christian’s life. Since then I have given it some thought and in response I am asking Christians “Is social media or the gospel of Jesus Christ my priority in life?”

Let me be clear. I am not saying a Christian should put aside social media. However, this worldly thing should not be a priority in the Christian’s life. As you know, nowadays, people spend a lot of time on social media. Every single day, more people use social networks in North America than anywhere else in the world. Actually, in 2016, 70.2% of North American internet users accessed social networks and the number is growing rapidly. As a social fact, I think it’s important to consider the possible repercussions that it has on the church, and specifically on the Christian life.

What is a social network?

According to “The Economist”, March 6th 2010, a social network is “an online service or site through which people create and maintain interpersonal relationships. And millions of people have become comfortable using smart-phones to share information about themselves, via mobile apps that access social networks such as Facebook and Twitter”. Do people really create and maintain interpersonal relationships through social networks? If so, what kind of relationships? Do they share only information about themselves? Answering these questions would take several more pages, which I am not about to do. For now, I would prefer that you, the reader, provide the answers from your own personal experiences. Needless to say, I will share my own comments about this last question, “Do people share only information about themselves?” at a later point.

Be sure that this phenomenon about telling others about our lives leads to something we term “cyberdependence”, where large amounts of time are spent on social networking. Whenever a Christian is taken captive by social media, it is clearly not for God’s Glory. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3 verse 1a, “there’s a time for everything”. You should be careful with your time and not spend it on something that does not bring glory to God. Some people might think “if I go to church regularly, pray, read my Bible and so on, there should be no problem since I am spending my time as I wish, and it is not a sin to do so.” The apostle Paul has it right when he says in 1st Corinthians 10 verse 23, “all things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not”. What that means is that the Christian chooses his actions based on whatever may be beneficial (expedient) or constructive (edify) in regards to the Church and his own spiritual well being and ultimately God’s Glory.

Going back to social media, people share all kinds of content on Facebook, and not just people revealing things about themselves as “The Economist” reports. Facebook may claim that they do not allow nudity, hate speech, excessive violence, self-injury….…it is clear that we see these things all the time on Facebook. Whether we admit it or not, if we spend too much time on Facebook, inevitably we will be exposed to pornography, questionable videos, spiteful comments… which of course does not edify any. Before long, our minds are affected by what we have been exposed to. A Christian should fill himself with the Word of God instead. Remember what the Lord said to Joshua, “this book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” (Joshua 1:8)

If someone were to ask the questions “What is too much time spent on social network?” or “How much time should I spend on it?”, I may not have all the answers, but one thing I know for sure, is that as God told Joshua to meditate on the Word of God day and night, we should do the same instead of passing excessive time on social networks. My priority in life as a Christian must be to read the Bible, “meditate therein day and night”; live by the Word of God, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee”, Psalms 119:11; Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path, Psalms 119:105; and to share it with nonbelievers, “And He [Jesus] said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature”, Mark 16:15.

Next time you feel like spending time on social media, ask yourself this question, “Am I doing it for the glory of my God?

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” 1st Corinthians 10:31

Jean Sosthène Félix

Why Do We Go to Church?

As we live in a broken world, it’s urgent for believers to ask themselves, “Why do we go to church?” Is it for meeting people? Is it for chatting with folks? Is it for something to do, only so that it can be added to a plethora of other activities?

While still a child, I had different reasons to attend church: being with friends; playing music; participating in plays to name several. My parents used to go to church with me. In fact, I went every Sunday to church as well as on Monday and Wednesday nights and Saturday. I was involved with a group named “Citizen of the City Celeste”. The C.C.C was a youth group. We learned songs, Bible verses, Bible studies, played games along with activities to help me learn about such things as how to make knots, fix a tent, and other things.

At that time, I never questioned why I went to church. For the most part, it was fun because I was with friends. More than that, my excitement for Sunday school was about being taught the Scriptures and learning missionary stories, like “little Kinza” a story that I could never forget of a young girl who lived in Africa. In my primary school, an evangelical school, we used to prepare for holiday events like Christmas and Easter. Everything stood in relation to the Bible including songs and plays.

Much later when in secondary school, again an evangelical school, each Friday, before class, all students would gather in the amphitheatre to attend a presentation. It was more like a contest. We prepared an evangelical program with gospel songs, a gospel theatre play, and a few minutes of preaching. It was really fun and I played guitar with the group. I truly enjoyed those times.

From what has been said so far is it reason enough to attend Church?

Some might say yes, others no. In my opinion, the best way is to think through what the Bible has to teach us about the real basis for going to church.

Before going any further, let’s see how the Bible defines the church. In the Bible the word church is used in different ways. First of all, as the body of Christ, the church is often defined as a local assembly or group of believers (1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1-2). Second, it is defined as the body of individual believers (1 Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13). Finally, it is defined as a universal group of people who have trusted Christ through the ages (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 5:23-27). From these verses we can clearly see that for believers church is not optional, but an obligation.

Many passages in the Bible explain why believers should go to church. In the following text, I’m going to underline seven important reasons that support going to church.

First, we must go to church to be together, to encourage one another, fellowship, and pray. (Hebrew 10: 25; Acts 2:42; Acts 9:31; Matthew 16:18)

Second, we must go to church to be in the presence of God. God is among us; by whom we can seek His Kingdom. (Matthew 18:20; Matthew 6:33)

Third, we must go to church to know and praise God. (Colossians 3:16; James 1:22)

Fourth, we must go to church to grow our faith in Christ. (Romans 10:17)

Fifth, we must go to church for Christian ministry. (Ephesians 4:12)

Sixth, we must go to church to be prepared for service. (2 Timothy 4:2)

Seventh, we must go to church to share the gospel. (Matthew 28:19)

In my opinion, the church is a place for encouragement, strengthening, inspiration, forgiveness, hope, and fellowship. The church may not always be what it should be and while we do live in difficult times, my prayer is to see believers in church and live like real brothers and sisters; because church is a family, the real family, the family of God.

Haiti to Canada – A Story of Faith

As a result of a friend’s advice my wife and I decided to apply for Canadian immigration. We were working in Haiti; my wife in a hotel and I was a philosophy teacher. Our two boys were at school. We were trying hard to builld our lives and raise our children, which is not easy in my home country. Our friend in Canada tried to convince us that Canada is a good country to raise children and start out. Even though I was skeptical about his optimism, I was hoping that he was somehow right.

When in 2010 the earthquake struck Haiti and caused more than 250.000 deaths, we realized just how unsafe the situation had become. In addition to the disaster, the process to move to Canada was going slow, mostly because of the devastation throughout Haiti. In that very same year, we had a couple of rendezvous at the embassy where we submitted personal papers and completed forms.

I can still remember our first appointment to have our certificate of qualification. Three months prior to that meeting, I had started one of my biggest experiences with God. In secret I had prayed to God, “if it’s your Will for us to go to Canada, may the authorities give us this qualifying certificate right away; if it’s not may they not give it.” That very day, after a couple of questions in French and English, producing our diploma and along with making a couple of jokes, the government representative told us that he was going to print out the certificate. Right after that I explained to my wife my earlier request to God. She was very surprised. We had trusted God. We had all the money that the process required such as fees for our folder, medical fees, installation fees, tickets and money to provide for our needs for the first three months in Canada. God provided all this money for us.

When we left our country, I made another prayer to my God. I told him that I’m convinced that it was His plan for us to come to Canada. We has not cheated or lied in order to be granted the right of passage to come here. Some people, even “believers” had cheated when they sought to apply in order to come to Canada. Everything was neat and clear. “God you know me, you see my age, I’m not 20 years old anymore; I’m here because you have a bigger plan than what I can think and imagined. You have brought us here, I don’t want to complain for anything. I’m your child, I’m in your hand and you will take care of me”. To move to another country when you are 39 years old is really challenging. Nevertheless, when you have God for your Lord and your support you are confident.

Our first year in Canada was spent in Montreal. I prayed that God would lead us to a church where Jesus Christ our Saviour is the center. We went to three churches and we didn’t feel comfortable.

In December of 2012, we went to Ottawa and visited some friends. While there, one of them told me to move to Ottawa. My wife and I had our jobs in Montreal and our children were at school. Despite the winter season, we could see in Ottawa a community that was totally different from Montreal, more quiet, and friendly. We decided to move here on June 2013.

When we arrived to Ottawa, praise the Lord, my wife felt led to call Pastor Georges who later came and pick us up every Sunday for church. It was such a blessing. He didn’t bring us to a Haitian church, but a Canadian church. I didn’t know why, but he was right. Even though our English was limited, God was helping us to understand the gospel. Every Sunday at Emmanuel Baptist church, it was such a blessing for my soul.

Another blessed experience was finding a job. I applied to work at Target and didn’t know a lot of English. When they called me for an interview, I didn’t know what to say. I said to God, I’m like Moses. I don’t know what to say. You’ll talk for me. Trust me, He did. I was hired. Step by step, I learned the basics of English at Target.

God shows me that He’s with me, and He will never abandon me. One of the biggest blessings was when the college (CEGEP) at St. Hyacinthe in Quebec called me to replace a teacher who was sick. I applied in 2012 to teach there. I had an interview as well. They told me that everything was good, but they would give the course to a more experienced and mature teacher. In fact, my application would be available for two years. In less than two years, they called me to be a substitute teacher. When people said it’s kind of complicated to teach in Canada, God says nothing is impossible.

God is so good to me. Even though I’m not in my home country, I feel like I’m home, because of this church that God led me to, I feel like Emmanuel Baptist Church is my real family. In fact, it is my real family, God’s family. It is in this place that God continues to work in me.

I never expected to sing. I used to play guitar in church, played in a gospel band with artists, but singing wasn’t my field. At Emmanuel Baptist Church things were different for me. One Sunday, Pastor Bob asked me to prepare a song to sing. I was astonished and scared too. I prayed and got prepared to sing. God was helping me a lot. I’m pretty sure, because since my first time I sang to now, I probably sing once a month on average. As I said I am not an accomplished singer, but I’m convinced that God is using me to work for Him. I’m so delighted to be able to do something for my mighty God. I don’t deserve that, because I’m a sinner. By grace, Jesus redeemed me by his sacrifice on the cruel cross to save me. I can’t pay Him back for His sacrifice, but one thing I can do is to praise Him every day, every moment of my life. It’s my great joy because my God uses me to sing. It is like Moses. He couldn’t talk, he didn’t know what to say. God told him, “Go I’ll talk for you”. I feel like God said to me, “Go I’ll show you how to sing for my glory and for my people’s edification”.

In conclusion, I realize that God is so faithful and He’s with me step by step. Discouragement and persecution come many times. I pray to God and seek His advice. The Word of God also helped me to get through difficutl times. By the grace of God I stand steady.

My father was a pastor and so I know that to faithfully serve God isn’t easy. I know that because I saw how hard it was for my father to run several churches and deal with his ministry. I am only now beginning to understand what it means to serve God. Praise the Lord He is with me, and He teaches me by his Word and His Holly Spirit leads into a Christlikeness.

This is my desire to become like you, O Lord.