I guess a lot of Christians think that the “ends” justify the “being mean.”
This past week myself and a few friends in the youth ministry world have had several spears thrown at us. I’m not surprised at all when people disagree. It happens. But I am surprised when so-called followers of Christ think they have a license to be “mean.” No need for a big vocabulary word there… “mean” says it all.
One of the dangerous things about having an online presence is that you subject yourself to criticism from anonymous faultfinders. That probably one of the reasons why I secretly enjoy this little Saturday Night Live video about these kinds of “commenters”.
Don’t get me wrong, I get plenty of encouragement from most of you; but it’s interesting how one negative voice in your ear can really pierce through. I know I shouldn’t let it… but mean words are hard to filter out at times.
Just a few days ago while my family was on a trip down to Southern California to visit my son at his college, I got up early to check email. Some guy tweeted a link to me and said, “Something for your little evangelism contest.” The article he linked was an awkward article about a guy using very aggressive methods to bring people to Christ. I didn’t really know what this tweeter meant by the link. But, trying to be cordial and respond, I tweeted him back, saying something like, “Ha… that’s an interesting one.” An hour or so later I’m eating breakfast with my family and I notice a tweet reply on my phone. It was that same guy. Here’s what he said:
“Really, one of the most noble witnessing events ever just gets a “Ha” from you? I pity the people impressed by you.”
Now, he probably didn’t know this… but that really affected me. It really hurt.
I hadn’t mean anything with my “ha” response. In hindsight, I guess I shouldn’t have responded at all because I was actually confused by his comment, assuming he was being sarcastic (one of the difficulties of the internet- lack of non-verbal cues). Come to find out, this guy was truly upset at Youth Specialties’ little evangelism contest and thought it did “more harm than good.” Again… people will disagree. But where does this “Christian, Full Time Home Missionary to Students and Their Families” (I’m quoting his Twitter description), feel justified in telling someone, “I pity the people impressed by you.”
I can’t help but wonder if he would have said that to me in public? Is this how he talks to his pastor if he doesn’t like his sermon? Is this how he talks with his wife? Or are these spears saved for the brothers and sisters in Christ that he’ll never see face to face.
Last week a guy went on a blogging rampage against my friends Doug Fields and Mark Matlock. I’m not going to even give the guy the courtesy of linking his blog, but trust me, it was mean! His blog was not only pure nonsense… it was mean.
He defended himself saying that he was trying to raise awareness.
No. He was just being mean.
A couple months ago we launched a new video series for parents called R U Listening. Each week we share a teenage perspective on parenting and then have an author or speaker respond with their two cents. Just two videos into the series we started getting some cruel feedback, personal attacks on David and I (I think they were from some of those guys in the video linked above).
It was mean.
I expect it from the world, but personally, it’s really difficult to receive from the body of Christ.
I see why the Apostle Paul spent so much time in his letters encouraging unity and warning us of backbiters who love to gossip and slander. We can prophesy and have faith that will move mountains… but without love… GONG!!!! CLANG!!!
Maybe that’s why Paul encouraged us to not talk in a way that divides believers, but “builds them up.” That’s what “unwholesome” talk means (no, it doesn’t mean cuss words).
So, some thoughts for us to consider (because I need this as much as you) from Paul’s letter to Ephesians, the end of Chapter 4.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
How can you kind to someone today?
How can you show compassion?
Who is someone you need to forgive?