Why it’s hard to be a Christian online

My friend and spiritual teacher, Marc Alan Schelske, posted this blog post by Jon Acuff from Jon’s site, Stuff Christians Like,

There was a lot of stuff this Christian liked about the article:

The ideas I share are received with more grace, acceptance and discussion in the business world than they are in the Christian world.

When Christians disagree with your idea, they critique your soul.

dropping a fake money tract on the ground is an incredibly effective use of my time. That saves me all that hassle of actually having a relationship with someone and telling them about God in that context. Relationships take forever, ugh.

Well, perhaps “liked” isn’t the correct word. Maybe related to or identified with would be more accurate. This is probably the one that hit closest to home for me:

But when we as Christians attack each other’s souls we forever lose the ability to get better. When we can’t debate without it turning into a soul attack, we can’t grow. 

In this post, Jon referred to an incident where other publicly known Christians had chosen to openly criticize and misrepresent something he’d written.

My fear is that we’re missing something pretty powerful in this type of situation. My fear is that no one in the history of mankind has ever said, “I saw two Christians on twitter attacking each other and that made me want a lifelong relationship with their Christ.”

So often I see posts from my fellow Christians which contain critical, mean-spirited, hatefulness towards other believers, as well as non-believers, or followers of other faiths. Attacks on the people and their very souls and identities – the very souls and identities that the God we share and claim is a God of love, compassion, grace, and forgiveness created and cares for as much as we are cared for and loved. It saddens me and sickens me.

I want to protest, publicly and loudly against these people. My instinct is to judge and criticize them for being so hypercritical and judgmental. Then, I realize what is happening within me. I understand that I’m afraid of being judged and criticized by association with them and that my identity and being will suffer an attack and backlash because of their words and actions.

My identity is not in my association with them. It is in who God has made me to be and the love, grace, mercy, and compassion I have received from Him. This is available to all who are able to receive it. Since I have received compassion instead of condemnation, compassion is what I offer to others, whether I agree with them or not, whether they have hurt me or not, whether they deserve it or not. I have received compassion, forgiveness, grace, and mercy though I have not been deserving or worthy, but because I am loved regardless.

So, it is not my place or position to decry and denounce my fellow believers, no matter how misguided or misplaced I believe their attitudes, words, and actions to be. It is not even my plac to publicly name, shame, and blame them if their words and actions have caused myself or others I may care about to experience pain or suffering, as counterintuitive as that may seem.

Romans 12:19 ~ Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

I’m not in control of them or their journeys. Instead, wherever I encounter those who have been wounded by my spiritual siblings, I am to offer whatever aid and comfort I am able, without justifying or rationalizing or criticizing those who came before.20130709-173104.jpg

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2 comments

  1. It’s so easy to be nasty to others on the internet. No one can see you, no one can identify you as the transgressor. Even when you know (more or less) who’s doing the bullying (like through Facebook), it’s not something you call people on in “real life.” I think maybe it’s time we stopped distinguishing our online world from the the rest. This is real; it’s just in the form of bits and bytes.

    Like

    1. Mary,
      Exactly! I believe I’m actually more careful about how I handle myself and my reactions in online forums than I am face to face because the missing piece in online interactions is context. Most people I encounter in day to day life are people whom I am familiar with and have some understanding of their backgrounds. If I don’t have experience with them on that level, then my interactions with them tend to be as careful as the ones I make an effort to have online. Since I don’t know you and your story and you don’t know me or mine, we don’t have a contextual relationship with one another. So, I’m going to be more careful in how I choose to interact in order to do what I can to prevent unintentional misunderstanding and conflict.

      Thanks for commenting, my friend. We should talk soon. Do you still have my number?

      Blessings,
      Kina

      Like

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