A fellow blogger at the Christian Post has written a candid article on how Christians, not infrequently, attack other Christians on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. Entitled, Welcome to the Christian Attack Culture, it illustrates how technology has aided the constant barrage of insults, carping and contentious discussion afforded by the anonymity that online communication provides. Here’s an except from that article:
“There’s no question that the Internet has brought Christianity many wonderful things. Today we have online education available to virtually everyone, social media that encourages people to support great causes, and online communication tools that allow us to connect from the four corners of the earth. But it’s also created something I believe is tearing at the very fabric of our faith. It’s created a culture of attack.
Rarely does a day go by that Christian news sites, social media streams, and other web platforms feature some Christian “correcting” another Christian – and calling them out by name. It can range from arguments over worship music, to theological squabbles, to disagreements over ministry styles, to charges of outright heresy, and the barrage of criticism has grown exponentially. While there are qualified theologians, pastors, and other leaders we should respect and listen to, there’s also a tsunami of armchair theologians, angry ex-church members, and wannabes who are convinced their criticism du jour needs to be shared.”
It needed to be said. Well, actually it had already been said:
The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:29-31
And, then there’s this:
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. – Matthew 7:1-5
Employing the Golden Rule puts into practice the law and the prophets, according to Jesus:
So, in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets – Matthew 7:12
James was fixated on utterances, especially mean, hurtful words that seek to tear down, not build up. Words intended to humiliate or ridicule. Words that hurt. The following is some of what James had to say in regard to the tongue:
Taming The Tongue
…With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?…- James 3:9-11
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. – James 1:19
The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. – James 3:6
Bear in mind, many Christians are already facing enormous challenges–anything from being the target of a smear campaign to being imprisoned and tortured for refusing to submit to another religion. Online, Christians are faced with verbal abuse from people who oppose the Christian agenda. We are now facing discrimination in the workplace and Christian businesses’ Constitutional right to the free exercise of religion has been challenged. As the Apostle Paul indicated, many of us are, “are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;…”
So, collectively we’ve already got a lot on our plate. None of us should be the one representative of the straw that breaks the camel’s back. One of the main purposes of Christian fellowship is the edification of believers. This can be accomplished with constructive criticism, respectful dissent, etc. It can be done without insults, name-calling, condescension, derision or disrespect.
Granted, putting scripture into practice is often a lot easier said than done. Indeed, Jesus was quite clear on this: “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
So, let’s see if we can’t have each others’ backs as we walk through the narrow gate–together.