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“Ser ou não ser—eis a questão.” Esta frase, dita pelo príncipe Hamlet na famosa peça de Shakespeare com o mesmo nome, tornou-se ao longo dos tempos uma das frases mais citadas na sua versão em Inglês. Em tempo de pandemia, todavia, uma pergunta mais relevante parece ter surgido: “Postar ou não postar? Eis a questão!”

Tal pergunta torna-se ainda mais crucial quando vemos servos de Cristo correndo para as plataformas sociais a fim de debater uma questão que talvez seja a mais consequente da nossa geração, ou seja, como explicar os erros gritantes de líderes que estão reagindo à essa crise, quem sai incólume, quem não sobrevive, e, mais importante, o que fazer para reverter a maré contrária e ainda conseguir livrar o nosso povo desse vírus implacável.

Diante de uma comunidade global que não se cansa de clicar, cristãos, como um time de futebol mal treinado, se embolam no meio de campo, provocam os adversários, xingam o juiz, e, no desespero, partem para a violência contra jogadores de sua própria equipe. Alguns espalham notícias falsas contra o outro time, outros, já semi-robotizados, simplesmente espalham slogans sem ao menos checar o que eles significam. Enquanto isso, pessoas sem Cristo continuam sem resposta às questões mais perplexas que afetam suas almas. E assim parece não haver esperança vindo dos espaços midiáticos dos cristãos.

Diante desse quadro, eu resolvi criar um pequeno recurso mnemônico com o intuito de ajudar a responder à pergunta sobre postar ou não postar. Sugiro que, ao deparar-se com essa questão, o cristão faça as seguintes perguntas:

1. É P-ositivo?

2. É O-bjetivo ?

3. É S-olidamente bíblico?

4. E T-estifica de Cristo?

5. É A-propriado?

6. É R-eal?

Consideremos agora cada uma dessas perguntas separadamente:

1. É P-ositivo?

O mundo, sem dúvida, está repleto de pessoas negativas. Frequentadores assíduos da mídia social normalmente estão à procura de algo que momentaneamente os eleve além da monotonia sufocante do dia-a-dia. No entanto, muitas vezes eles só encontram uma dose maior de drama, negatividade e discussões pueris.

Mas não deveria ser assim com o seguidor de Cristo. O apóstolo Paulo ensina que de tudo o que existe apenas três coisas permanecem, ou seja, fé, esperança e amor (1 Coríntios 13.13). Note, nenhuma delas conota qualquer tipo de negatividade. Fé requer uma convicção positiva que vira certeza. Esperança reflete uma visão promissora e inabalável quanto ao futuro, e o amor, a maior das virtudes, para ser amor verdadeiro, não pode ser sobrecarregado de tons destoantes de negatividade. Uma pessoa que busca passar fé, esperança e amor através de sua participação na mídia social não irá perder seu tempo com postagens negativas.

2. É O-bjetivo ?

Em poucas palavras isso significa: “conheças suas fontes”. Resista à tentação de compartilhar sem antes verificar. Nesse caso, é muito mais importante saber de onde vem do que para onde vai. Vale retificar antes de ratificar e passar no crivo antes de jogar na rede. Além disso, não se deixe enganar por manchetes sensacionalistas, truques de lógica ou grau de confiabilidade de amigos virtuais. Seus melhores amigos também podem ser os piores propagadores de opiniões que são despojadas de qualquer objetividade. Se esquecer de tudo o que eu disse acima, obedeça à sabedoria do adágio que diz: “Está bom demais pra ser verdade”. Já vai ser um bom começo.

É importante que não só você seja capaz de verificar a objetividade e confiabilidade do que você está prestes a postar, seus leitores também devem ter a oportunidade de fazer o mesmo. Portanto, facilite as coisas pra eles deixando de postar qualquer coisa que os levem a um beco sem saída.

Por exemplo, recentemente eu li uma postagem na página do Facebook de um amigo. O texto dizia: “Se você tomou vacina contra a flu nos últimos dez anos, irá testar positivo para o COVID-19”. Ora, eu estava 100% seguro de que isso não era verdade no meu caso. Como o texto era “assinado” por um “doutor”, eu fui procurá-lo no Google. Inicialmente, não o encontrei, mas depois de muito fuçar descobri que o sujeito é um nome importante no movimento anti-vacinação nos E.U.A, o que explica a postagem, mas ao mesmo tempo o desqualifica completamente para falar sobre o assunto com objetividade. Resultado: retirei a postagem da minha página.

3. É S-olidamente bíblico?

Entenda que aqui não estou me referindo a transformar o seu espaço na mídia em uma espécie de púlpito ambulante virtual. Estou mais interessado em falar do controle da língua, que é um tema constante na Bíblia. Por exemplo, somos admoestados a aprender a controlar a língua. De fato, o apóstolo Tiago até fala de “domar a língua” (Tiago 4.1-12). Deduz-se, então, que aquele uso desenfreado da língua não deveria fazer parte das interações de cristãos, quer sejam elas em pessoa ou virtualmente.

Há muitas pessoas que se descontrolam quando debatem nas redes sociais. Assim, elas acabam escrevendo ou compartilhando mensagens que servem apenas para denegrir a imagem de uma outra pessoa ou grupo. Alguns usam palavras de baixo calão ou jargões vulgares que atacam pessoas que são diferentes delas. Cristãos precisam evitar o uso dessas palavras. Às vezes eu penso que muitos cristãos na mídia social estão mais interessados em humilhar os seus oponentes do que em não entristecer o Espírito de Deus. Afinal, o uso de palavras torpes, como diz Paulo, é uma das maneiras seguras de deixar o Espírito triste (Efésios 4.29-30). O que alegra o Espírito são palavras plenas de graça, diz Paulo. Portanto, alegre o Espírito, não poste nada que não venha a ser benéfico pra alguém.

4. T-estifica de Cristo?

Não vou tentar amenizar esse problema. Muitos Cristãos na mídia social parecem estar mais engajados na causa politica ou social do que na causa de Cristo. Isso pra mim é um problema de uma magnitude gigantesca.

Recentemente eu tive que confrontar um amigo sobre esse assunto. Sem rodeios, perguntei: “O que você acha que as pessoas que frequentam sua página no Facebook pensam—que você tem mais paixão por Bolsonaro ou por Jesus?” Vindo assim de supetão, a pergunta o deixou meio sem jeito.

O comportamento desse amigo, por quem eu nutro admiração, é mais uma evidência da convicção que eu tenho de que se cristãos utilizassem a mesma paixão, tempo, energia e criatividade para com Cristo que eles demonstram para com causas político-sociais, ou até mesmo por esportes, já teríamos chegado muito mais longe na tarefa de ganhar o mundo para Cristo.

Creio que para o cristão todas atividades na mídia social, incluindo postagens, deveriam deixar pistas, espécies de pegadas virtuais, que remetessem diretamente à pessoa de Cristo. Se isso não for absolutamente claro para aqueles que seguem você na mídia, então eu diria que você falhou no teste básico sobre qual é a maneira mais eficaz de atuar nesses meios. Portanto, não enterre seu talento na nuvem. A começar com a sua próxima postagem, faça como Paulo ensina quando ele diz que devemos “aproveitar cada oportunidade” (Efésios 5.16).

5. É A-propriado?

No contexto religioso, “apropriado” refere-se à uma liturgia que é específica para um certo feriado no calendário religioso. Em outras palavras, esse conceito tem a ver com algo que se adequa aquele momento, que não está fora de lugar, e que, como uma luva, encaixa-se perfeitamente na mão.

Plataformas sociais são espaços comunitários que estabelecem suas próprias regras. Ninguém é forçado a entrar, mas, em entrando, a expectativa é de que a pessoa irá obedecer às regras. Nesse contexto, “apropriado” é tudo aquilo que não foge à regra do jogo. Por sua própria definição, vale dizer, o termo exclue comportamento “guerrilheiro”. Ninguém é excluído de seguir as regras e espera-se que todos o façam para o bem do grupo como um todo. Vejam que até o presidente dos E.U.A. foi recentemente repreendido pelo Twitter por postar algo desprovido de qualquer tipo de sustentação.

O uso arcaico da palavra “apropriado” tem a ver com algo que é “virtuoso” ou “respeitável”. Tais conceitos chegam bem perto do que Paulo quis dizer em Filipenses 4.8, quando ele instou os cristãos a pensarem em coisas que são “nobres” ou “louváveis”.

Mas alguém ainda poderia perguntar: Como saber se algo é “apropriado” para postar ou não? Primeiro, diante da possibilidade de seus filhos verem o que você postou, qual seria a sua reação? Vergonha? Decepção? Se sim, não poste. Segundo, se o assunto é algo que seria mais apropriado tratar em uma conversa face-a-face, não poste. Facebook não é um lugar para postar desaforos sem nome e Twitter não foi feito pra “torrar” ninguém.

Há muita gente aí passando lição de moral ou jogando impropérios contra outros simplesmente porque o podem fazer por detrás de uma tela. Isso é um comportamento muito feio por parte de um cristão, sem contar com o fato de que quem não tem coragem de dizer algo pessoalmente, mas daí por aí esborrifando as mesmas coisas pelo mundo seguro de uma rede social está agindo como um mau-caráter. Plataformas de mídia, lembre-se, não foram criadas pra serem um experimento em atos de covardia.

6. É R-eal?

“Real” tem a ver com aquilo que corresponde à realidade, ou seja, é verdadeiro. Se você não tem certeza que algo é verdadeiro, não ponha nas suas redes sociais, não importa quão convincente o assunto pareça.

“Real” também pode se referir a um artigo que é “genuíno”. Quem lida com dinheiro falso sabe muito bem que a razão pela qual ainda há um mercado para essa atividade criminosa é que os falsificadores são bastante astutos ao ponto de fazerem imitações quase perfeitas das notas legais. Eles não cometem erros óbvios nem esquecem os pequeníssimos detalhes. A olho nu, toda nota parece genuína. São necessários olhos de especialistas para distinguir o falso do verdadeiro.

E cristãos que se interessam por não espalhar falsidades nas redes sociais necessitam aprender a ser esse tipo de especialistas. Temos que nos esforçar para ser verdadeiros caçadores de mentiras, a começar pelas já famosas “fake news”, uma expressão que agora tornou-se popular. Não se deixe iludir: “Fake news” significa “notícias falsas”. E elas só cresceram em popularidade justamente porque se parecem assustadoramente com o artigo original. Seja implacável, aprenda a distinguir a verdade do erro e elimine o erro sem medo de errar. Não é tão difícil assim, basta um pouco de esforço.

A Bíblia diz que Jesus é a verdade (João 14.16). Em outras palavras, Ele é a essência da realidade, a entidade verdadeira original. E quem passa informação inverossímil sem qualquer cuidado em checar pode estar fazendo tudo mas não está exibindo o caráter de Cristo. Aliás, pode até ser que o hábito de “dar um like” em algo que não é verdadeiro reflita o caráter do “pai da mentira”. Pense: Ao fazer isso, você estará “curtindo” uma inverdade. É isso que você quer? Não estaria na hora de alinharmos definitivamente nossas postagens na mídia social à verdade de Cristo?

Resumindo então esta exposição, vale ressaltar que quer você utilize-se dessas perguntas para decidir se deve postar ou não, seria aconselhável lembrar-se de que a raiz do problema do comportamento esdrúxulo de alguns cristãos na mídia social, especialmente em tempos de pandemia, deve-se à mania que muitos cristãos têm de imitar os padrões do mundo nas relações humanas. Deveria ser o oposto, mas infelizmente o que se vê com muita frequência são cristãos que em vez de líderes são seguidores.

Note o contraste com 1 Pedro 3.15, um texto dirigido a cristãos que estavam sendo alvo de perseguição. O apóstolo ensina que quando fossem questionados sobre a razão pela qual eles ainda tinham esperança, os cristãos deveriam estar preparados para responder. Mas aí ele faz uma ressalva: A resposta deveria ser caracterizada por “mansidão e respeito”, não agressão e despeito, não importando se os indagadores eram os mesmos perseguidores.

E aí jaz o problema: O mundo vive à base da filosofia do “bate-pronto”, já o cristão, se quiser seguir a linha do seu Mestre, deve viver à base do “bate, pronto”. Quem disse que necessitamos viver em constante estado de beligerância, prontos a devolver instantaneamente com a mesma moeda? Está na hora de fazer jus ao nome de “discípulos de Cristo” e praticar o que Ele disse: “Se alguém o ferir na face direita, ofereça-lhe também a outra” (Mateus 5.39). Assim, e assim somente, ganharemos o mundo para Cristo, virtualmente ou não.

“To be or not to be, that is the question.” Those words, uttered by Prince Hamlet in Shakespeare’s famous play, have become one of the most often quoted phrases in the English language. In the age of pandemic, however, an even more important question has now emerged: “To post or not to post.” This question becomes even more crucial for Christians who rush to social media platforms to participate in what is perhaps the most consequential debate of our generation, namely, who is responsible for the colossal failures in responding to the challenges related to COVID-19 and what can still be done to defeat this lethal virus?

While the world watches, many Christians are fumbling terribly, sometimes consciously spreading falsehoods, at other times robotically repeating half-truths that serve no purpose, or simply attacking the messengers while surreptitiously skirting around the issues.

To help us know when to post or not to post on social media, I came up with a simple acronym. Before deciding to post, submit your text/shareable link to the following test:

1. Is it P-roper?

2. Is it O-pen to verification?

3. Is it S-cripturally sound?

4. Is it T-rue?

Let’s now look at them one by one:

1. Is it P-roper?

In religious terms, “proper” refers to a certain liturgy that is appropriate to a specific holiday. In other words, something that is fitting for the occasion, not foreign to it, not sticking up, not out of place. Social media platforms are spaces, communities with their own set of rules. In that context, “proper” assumes one knows the rules of engagement and is willing to abide by them for the good of the whole. “Proper,” by its very definition, eliminates rogue-ism.

In archaic English, “proper” was used for something that was virtuous or respectable. That comes close to the meaning of Paul’s admonition for us to think of things that are “noble” and “praiseworthy.” (Philippians 4.8).

“Proper” would also encompass anything that is not crass or caustic. In the words of Paul, again, our verbal engagements must be similar to a dish whose seasonings, especially salt, are carefully balanced so as to not cause damage or displeasure to anyone tasting it (Colossians 4.6).

So, how do you know if something is “proper” or not? Well, if you would, for example, be embarrassed in case your kids read it, it is not proper. If it’s something that would be more fitting to say in a face-to-face conversation, do not post it. Do not use social media to engage in something akin to a vendetta, or to vent about a subject you would never have the courage to say in someone’s face. Facebook should not be a place for faceless insults nor should Twitter be a platform for threats. Social media is not a social experiment for cowards.

2. Is it O-pen to verification?

In a nut shell, open to verification means “know your sources.” Test before you say it is the best, and before you share, beware. You are an influencer, whether you have one or thousands of followers on social media. Make sure you give them the opportunity to check the reliability of the sources you are using or sharing.

For example, recently a friend posted the following on Facebook: “If you have had the flu shot in the last 10 years you will test positive for COVID-19.” I absolutely knew that not to be the case with me. Since there was the name of a “doctor” associated with the quote, I tried to find who that was but was unsuccessful. Further research revealed that the individual was a prominent figure in the anti-vaccine movement.

It is amazing to me that the same people who would never tell you a lie in person are not as careful when it comes to spreading unsubstantiated ideas on social media. I call that phenomenon “second hand lying” and we must avoid it at all cost.

3. Is it S-cripturally sound?

The Word of God admonishes us to use our tongues in a controlled way. James even refers to the necessity to “tame the tongue.” (James 3.1-12). Tongue-lashing, therefore, should not be part of our lives, whether virtually or in person. Out of control talk whose principal aim is to denigrate another individual, “got you” types of rhetoric that simply seeks to lay traps, ungracious words whose effect is to make others feel inferior—none of this stuff should inhabit our social media networks or even make an occasional appearance there. Speaking of the possibility of the same mouth pronouncing blessings and curses, James goes directly to the point: “My brothers and sisters, this should not be!” (James 4.10).

4. Is it T-rue?

Ascertaining truth about a statement is also related to it being open to verification and being scripturally sound. If you are not sure whether what you are posting is true or not, don’t post it. Period.

Jesus said, “I am the Truth.” The immediate implication of that statement when it comes to the use of social media by Christians is that every activity they engage in there, not only every post, should leave footprints leading back directly to Christ! If you post something or share something that does not in some way leads to Christ, you have essentially failed in the most fundamental of all reasons to be on social media. You have neglected Paul’s instruction to “make the most of every opportunity.” (Colossians 4.6).

In fact, I will go one step further: If your friends and/or followers don’t have a clue that you are all about Jesus, then you have squandered what is potentially the most impactful tool to make His name famous. Get out or bring Jesus into your social media presence. Make Him front and center of everything you do there.

I recently had to confront a dear friend regarding this very thing. This friend’s posts had become fixated with political comments about a particular person. I asked him: “When people go into your Facebook page, do they get the impression you are more passionate about Christ or about individual “X.”? The very fact he couldn’t give me a clear answer right away said everything.

My conviction is that if Christians used only half the passion, creativity, and energy they use to engage in cultural wars to point people to the Person of Jesus Christ, the battle to rescue people from the evil claws of the enemy would have been won already. But instead, what we have is a bunch of Christians confirming before thousands, maybe even millions that they are the same, if not worse, than everybody else out there. It is time to change that narrative, beginning with your next post.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

So, I’m happily making my way to Starbucks, driving my recently purchased 2008 Toyota Corolla, when a guy driving a pick up truck with some extra headlights pulled right next to me and started mumbling something. As we slowed down to get to the stop light, I realized what he was saying. Though I could not hear, the words came loud and clear: “GO BACK TO YOUR COUNTRY!” To make sure I didn’t miss the message, he drew it for me—in the form of some lovely spit in my general direction.

I thought, “Where have I heard such welcoming words before?” No, I didn’t. For a moment, I couldn’t feel my legs. Had I opted for the stick shift version of the Toyota, the car would have stalled right in the middle of the road. I panicked, not sure what would happen next. The angry face of that man was telling me all sorts of things but “you are safe” was not one of them. I avoided my usual route and pulled into the big parking lot of the first grocery store I found. But, to my horror, the truck followed me, next to me, then behind me until it came to rest from a safe distance at the same parking lot to where I had found refuge. I left the engine running, lowered myself on my seat, and watched from the side mirrors for any sign that the car was moving or that someone was walking out of it. After what appeared to be an eternity, though it may only have been five or ten minutes, the truck finally left the parking lot, tuning north, away from the city, into destination unknown.

I sat there, engine still running, unable to move my legs or even my arms to shut the engine down. For the first time in my life, my head felt like it was completely neutralized. The more I tried, the less I was able to hold a coherent thought for more than a few seconds. It was as if my head had been severed from my body and I was no longer a whole person—I had been cut in two by the power of five simple words that, when combined, become weaponized against foreigners like myself.

1. “Go.” But what if I don’t want to ”go”? What if this has been my country for thirty years and I am only interested in staying? Do you have the right to tell me to “go”? I think not.

2. “Back.” But why “back”? Why not “forward”? I came to this country with my family in pursuit of a calling to help people and better our lives. Both things have been realized and I am thankful for the doors that the people in the U. S. have opened to us, so I am not “going back” anywhere. The future belongs to the peacemakers, not the haters, and it belongs to those who believe in moving forward, not back.

3. “To.” This little, innocent preposition points to directions. When joined with “go” and “back” the direction tends to be opposite the person speaking. Ironically, when it is meant as a command to return to one’s love, even the verb changes. It’s never “go back to me;” rather, it’s “come back to me.” “Go” and “to” increase distance, but “come” and “to” shrink it. My experience living in the U. S. has been a series of “comings to,” and your words of hatred will not change that direction.

4. “Your.” A possessive pronoun. How many wars have humans started because that class of pronouns has been appropriated by the “wrong” people? How many lives have been lost because of the quest for ownership? In your mind, “your” country is contrasted with “mine.” You have somehow acquired the rights of ownership to this land that people like me are barred from having. You now have exclusive proprietary rights to this country. What is more, the object of your possession is better than mine, and I, by extension, am of less value than you because the only thing I deserve is “my” rat-infested piece of real state. But what gave you exclusive rights to own this multicultural place called the United States of America? Learn from George Blaurock, a fifteenth century evangelist who, upon being ordered by the authorities to leave the city of Geneva, Switzerland, famously quoted David when he said in Psalm 24, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” And refused to leave…

You may taunt and hunt and blunt the voice of those trying to enter here, but I have been here for thirty years, I like it here, and you can’t make this place more of yours and less of mine just by saying so.

Someday, you might learn a lesson your mother may have tried to teach you when you were little: “Share your toys, son; share your toys.” Guess what? The ground you try to soil with your hatred is also shared by those who, like me, have done you no harm and only want to live in peace in this vast world old Blaurock taught rightly belongs to no other than the same God who made you and me. That ownership title was never “yours” or “mine,” so stop being a squatter and learn to share what has been given to you.

5. “Country.” As I intimated, I have no country. To quote St. Paul, “My citizenship is in heaven.” Though the day is far gone when we could live with open borders, you realize that “countries” are drawn as a result of wars. They are artificial boundaries dictated by the victors and offered to allies as spoils. No person is above the law but no nation is above the law of God either. And there is no greater law than this: “Love your enemies and forgive those who sin against you.” And even your hatred for people like me will not blunt the power of these words when taken to heart.

I am Ivanildo Trindade and I have no travel plans for the moment, though a ticket to Hawaii would be more than welcome (for two!)

Lately, I am hearing some of my evangelical friends vouching for the conversion of some present and past American politicians. I especially hear it stated with reference to our sitting President. To be sure, only God knows what is inside someone’s heart, nonetheless, it is also true that the Word gives us some ways we can test whether someone is giving signs of being a true believer or not. Here are some of them:

1. The test of early enthusiasm. I have been around brand new Christians a lot. My experience is that those who have been transported from the kingdom of darkness into the “kingdom of the Beloved” are usually chomping at the bit to share with others about their new found faith. They have that “we cannot help” attitude reflected in the way the early Apostles reacted when they were told by the authorities to shut up about the Messiah (John 4.19-20). In fact, early in their journey is when new believers are usually most enthusiastic about letting others know about the amazing transformation that happened in their lives. The thought of a reluctant new believer is at a minimum a historical anomaly.

2. The test of fruit. The Bible says in Matthew 7.15-20 that a good tree yields good fruit and a corrupt tree yields evil fruit. In the context, Jesus was pointing out that the way to distinguish between a false prophet and a true prophet was by the type of fruit each produces. Fruit hangs on the outside. In most cases, it is highly visible and when you see it you know right away what kind of fruit it is. No need to ask questions and one is left wondering about the true nature of the stuff hanging from the tree. You don’t need to be an agronomist to know that if the fruit is rotten, there’s something wrong with the tree.

3. The test of good vs. evil deeds. Speaking of fruit, Paul said that the fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5.22-23). In contrast, the “deeds of the flesh” are “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these” (Galatians 5.19-21). It shouldn’t be that hard to apply that litmus test to anyone you know, including yourself. Where you are caught lingering is where you long to live. And like fruit hanging from a tree, most of these things, especially the ones in the latter category, are things done in public, not hidden from sight. In other words, we are only deceived if we close our eyes and pretend not to see what we are seeing. Conduct betrays conviction, choice reveals character.

4. The test of readiness to witness. Peter encourages believers to always be ready to give an answer as to why they believe. A believer who is not ready to share is in the least a disobedient believer. And the one who shares must do so with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3.15). When speaking to others, God tells us to do so with love. To be contentious is universally condemned in Scriptures. One cannot be a believer and remain in a constant state of contentiousness.

5. The test of truth. If you want to judge someone’s character, listen to the words that come out of his or her mouth and compare them with reality. Paul is emphatic when he says that a true believer has put away falsehood and now seeks to speak the truth with his neighbor (Ephesians 4.25). Jesus identified lying as an aspect of Satan’s character and called him “the father of lies” (John 8.44). Now, to be sure, though the Word says lying lips are an “abomination” to the Lord (Proverbs 12.22), it is not the same as saying that it is the unpardonable sin. Nevertheless, someone who is a perpetual liar and doesn’t seem to care about putting up a fight against that practice should have a reason to suspect whether he or she is truly a believer in Christ. Everyone should know a believer first and for most for his or her unmistakable commitment to tell the truth no matter the consequences.

6. The test of Peace. Paul told Timothy that the man of God “must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful” (1 Timothy 2.24). In the passage Paul is talking directly to Timothy, but in a previous verse he uses a more universal language when he says that “anyone” who cleanses himself from wickedness “will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work” (1 Timothy 2.20-21). Regardless of the scope of application, it’s safe to say that someone who is known for constantly picking fights instead of promoting peace may not have the Spirit of God in him or her. A true believer, as far as it depends on him or her, will live in peace with everyone (Romans 12.18). A discontented, divisive, disruptive person is the antithesis of the God-fearing, people-loving, peace-making citizen of the Kingdom, which is not the same as saying that the believer is simply a mat for others to trample on. Believers can live in conflict but not live for conflict.

But after all our opinions are offered, as scripturally sound as they might be, in the end, only God can know perfectly and judge impartially. I am not going to try to usurp God’s place here. But neither will I solemnly swear that certain people are believers, unless I see tangible evidences of that in the way they live their lives. As Paul said, “The Lord knows those who are his,” but let us not forget that he also said, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness” (2 Timothy 2.19).

I wrote this piece for one simple reason: If evangelicals, because of political expediency, continue to lower the bar and contribute to redefining what it means to be truly saved, soon we will no longer need to have the word “again” added to “born-again,” which is the iconic, Jesus inspired-lingo for being truly saved. Nicodemus would then ‘get it’ the first time around! (see John 3.3-4).

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

1. Misplaced priority. When I consider worthy causes to give to, building a wall to keep foreigners out does not come even close to appearing on my list. For example, my town has a poverty level that is 14% higher than the national average. 33.4% of males and 24.3% of females who are considered poor are also disabled. It would be hard for anyone to convince me to give to a wall when I can give to help people who are suffering in my hometown.

2. Misguided solution. According to our own government, almost 50% of illegal immigrants in the U. S. are NOT people who crossed the border—they are people who simply overstayed their visas. Giving toward building a wall does not address this critical problem with our immigration system. If politicians really wanted to accomplish something positive, at least as a first step, they should initiate a process to deport those who abuse the privilege of being a guest in this country and change the law to permanently close that loophole.

3. Misinformed notion of effectiveness. In the debate about border security, comparison with Israel is a constant. The problem with that argument is that it fails to account for a multiplicity of other measures that over the years have been implemented by the Israeli government to keep terrorists at bay, including the development of super innovative high tech tools, the use of extremely intrusive methods of vigilance, the massive presence of heavily armed personnel everywhere, the use of precision and persistent training, as well as the toleration for an ample latitude to kill anyone deemed a threat to security. In other words, to simply say “the wall works in Israel” is a gross oversimplification of what has really taken place in that country. Perhaps saying “the wall is one of the factors” would be more palatable to people like me. Either way, I would not give to a cause that promises something I know it cannot deliver.

4. Exaggerated threat. I know it’s hard for many North Americans to see this but the fact is that historically terrorism threats or acts have not been committed by people who crossed the border illegally into the U. S. I am not saying we should not be vigilant nor do I side with those who believe in open borders, which I consider to be an unworkable idea, even in the age of turbo globalism. However, I will not support a cause that has been hyped to a level of insanity simply to feed the fears of those who would vote for a candidate who would “build a wall to keep America safe.” That, in my opinion, is fear-mongering and I despise that kind of tactic.

5. Limited funds. I consider myself a hardworking individual. But like many others in this country, I don’t have a lot of “discretionary money” laying around. So, I give to my church, to a few charities I identify with, and to some occasional needs that arise within my network of friends and acquaintances. Beyond that, I volunteer my time and talents. With all due respect to the need to keep the nation safe, which I believe should be a priority of any government, personally, I would rather put my efforts into building bridges, not walls. Building walls is not exactly what I have been called to do. And that’s why I give to causes that have Christ at the center—He is the ultimate bridge maker.

Ivanildo C. Trindade

This is my response to what I heard from the President last night. 😭

What Did He See?

By Ivanildo C. Trindade

I saw a group of people armed with torches, echoing the words from the graves of forgotten haters, but what did he see?

I saw symbols proudly displayed, emblems of division from an era now condemned by all people of good will, but what did he see?

I saw a car leap forward like a blunt instrument, driven by nothing but a desire to inflict pain, but what did he see?

I saw men in pathetic uniforms, pretending to be heroes of a war in which the losing side seems to be hungry for a rematch, but what did he see?

I saw the anguished looks on the faces of bystanders forced to remember the atrocities committed against their ancestors, but what did he see?

I saw confusion and chaos, grief and lament for a time when little children could still be spared the rod of racial bigotry, but what did he see?

Were we looking at the same image or did our brain waves go haywire as they went from plasma to persuasion?

We are left to wonder whether what is seen is the real deal or only what we choose to see.

Is this ‘selecting seeing’ a new type of moral imperative for those too lazy to bend to the canons of common sense?

Did we see the same thing or do we simply have two sets of eyes — one irrevocably bent to scan the cry of solitary humans and another, burdened by a drive for self-preservation, which renders the owner incapable of noticing the river of tears already flooding our cities?

While the ancients said you have to see in order to believe, what irony such times bring — that one sees but refuses to believe while claiming everyone else sees what he sees. Or at least they ought to.

To reset the order of the cosmos, shouldn’t we at least demand to know what for the love of God did he truly see?

August 16, 2017

I was honored to preach at Celebrate Christ Church today. If you would like to watch some (or all of it), please click on the link below: https://youtu.be/I6SbXxjydWA


In a world marked by easy connectivity and rapid mobility, we tend to forget the beauty of the concept of “home.” Ask a typical young person today where home is and chances are they will not know what to tell you. Home could be where you spent most of your life, where you went to college or where you met your now husband. But mostly, when we speak of “home,” we are talking about the place of our childhood, sometimes even the physical place where you spent your formative years — a house,  city, a farm. But mostly, home is where your strongest affections still reside. As they like to say, “home is where your heart is.”

Followers of Christ often make the mistake of living as if the current zip code where they now receive their mail is their permanent dwelling place. Without realizing it, they make preparations to stay here and thus lose the joy of anticipation for heaven. In fact, heaven becomes an after thought, very much like a trailer attached to the luxury SUV in which you travel comfortably to your vacation spot. Instead of a dstination, heaven becomes a fading imagination; instead of longing for it and bringing the reality of it into our mostly mundane existence, we fix our eyes on the stuff of earth and fail to see the luxury of heaven. We live for 9 to 5 when we should be looking for eternity. 

Having been born overseas, I understand very well the reality of living in one place while longing for another. That, to me, is the ultimate calling of every Christ-follower — fully engaged here while fully excited about the hearafter. 

I still remember the first time our whole family went back to Brazil after being in the U.S. for a few years. For months we talked about it. We spent endless hours packing and made many trips to stores in order to buy gifts for our relatives. As we got closer to the big day, the excitement only grew. We were pulling many all-nighters, spreading things all over the house, being more lax with the children’s bed time, and (gasp!) eating microwaveable food. 

None of this, however, mattered to us. And for one simple reason: We were going home! And when you are going home you savor every moment leading up to the big trip with extraordinary anticipation. We talk about some of the things we will do as soon as we got there, we make lists of people we have to see, foods we have to eat, places we have to visit. We get simply consumed with the thought of going home and it’s okay.

Later, as I pondered on that experience, I thought: Wow, if this is true of going home to be reunited momentarily with our earthly family, how much more should we get excited about being forever united with our Father and our beloved Messiah, Jesus Christ? We should be shouting for joy right now at the thought of going to heaven and living today, as the old hymn says, as one who is passing through, only on business for the King. But are we?

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’” (Revelation 21:1-4). 

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade


Those who know me will know that I am very people oriented. I can’t help it: I love being with people. They challenge me, they make me laugh, they energize me. 

But the one thing I am not a big fan of in people is this general tendency they have of volunteering categorical opinions of one another to each other. Now, I don’t mind if people opine about your looks, your temperament, even your work style, but there are people who think they have broken the code when it comes to the core of your calling — the things that make your heart pound hard and skip a beat when you are in reverent attention in the sight of God. That, my friends, is a sacred space, reserved only for you and God; no one else is allowed in there and thus people on the outside are generally clueless. In fact, often, what you decide to do will not make sense to the majority of people around you. Because following God’s calling is not a popularity contest. 

Case in point: one of the narratives about my recent job experience was that I am passionate about evangelism, compassionate about “the least of these,” and eager to help the broken-hearted. So far, so good, but it doesn’t stop there. The implication was that something was missing. So to try to explain that, remarks were offered: “He would make a great missionary. “He will find a role as a mission or evangelism pastor somewhere where he will be a lot more comfortable,” etc. Those things may very well be true but does this brace the whole sum of a person’s calling? These are all good things, but are they “the most excellent things,” the things that “God prepared beforehand for us to do”? And with what authority does one make those types of statements?

You see, when people pontificate about one’s calling, it’s the equivalent of intuiting that they know what God’s will for your life is. So, what was once an opinion, now graduates to the level of grand proclamations. They are repeated ad infinitum. And things that are repeated often enough give birth to “facts.” That, by the way, could be a good definition of “fake news.” To make themselves feel better, people will now, categorically, if not condescendingly, say: “He shouldn’t do X; he should do Y.” 

I reject that entire practice as bunk. Yes, it’s true that we each have unique personalities, skills, training, strengths and weaknesses. But God’s calling in one’s life is so much more than “unique” or “personal.” It speaks to that intangible part of your soul — the core of your being. And that’s why I called it “the core of our calling” in the opening paragraph. No one, except the person being called, knows exactly what that calling is and sometimes even the person being called does not know precisely how to explain it. God’s calling is supernatural and supernaturally enabled. 

Moses thought he was slow of speech for a prophet. Jeremiah seemed to think he was too young. Amos was a sheep herder and a sycamore fig farmer. He didn’t even dare call himself a prophet. David wasn’t even brought from the fields to be presented to the prophet Samuel, along with his brothers, as a potential future king of Israel — no one even bothered to think of him who was just a little boy tending sheep. John, the baptizer, was seen as an eccentric, if not as a madman. Mary was a fragile teenager in whose womb the hope of mankind would rest. 

In my own personal life, the missionary who had the greatest impact in my life as a young man in Brazil, because he hit the field at a later age in life, was the one who spoke the worst Portuguese of the bunch. The one who was mocked by his peers is now famous in heaven because of the difference he made in the lives of people like me.

All those people, if God had taken a poll or even informally asked the opinions of their peers about whether He should give them the responsibilities He did would probably never get the job. Such is the nature of people — we look at the book cover and think we already know how good the author is based solely on a clever title, a photograph or a computer generated design.

Paul may have been thinking of this when he wrote these words: “Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29). 

I guess the practical implication for all of us is this: be very careful not to go around pontificating about what God’s calling on another person’s life should or should not be. When asked to give an opinion, feel free to share, but don’t call to yourself a role that belongs to God and to the individual involved. I can categorically say: that’s NOT your calling in life!

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade