When Did Christians Get So Mean?
Michael Hidalgo of Relevant Magazine is wondering, When Did Christians Get So Mean?
“Few things embolden us to say unkind things more than a computer keyboard. Many men and women type mean, slanderous emails and comments. They come out so fast their fingers can barely keep up with the toxic words that appear before them on the screen.”
And Christians can be some of the most notorious culprits. Christian websites often feature biting personal attacks in the comments section – even Crosswalk.com!
Ron Edmonson has also noticed this trend. He writes,
“It seems to me, we’ve lost some of our civility when it comes to what we post on social media. We are quick to blast a company that we feel has wronged us. We criticize people — right on their Facebook page. We load the comments of a blog post with crushing blows.
Surely you’ve seen it. The web has made it much easier to be a critic.
But, it’s also in public. I’ve seen Christians I know act like jerks in a restaurant or grocery store. I consistently hear of bosses who serve smiling on Sunday but are mean to employees during the week.
It all has to hurt our witness as Christians.”
So what can we Christians do about this (often well-deserved) reputation? How can we censor ourselves before we lash out in public at each other, often attacking character instead of addressing points of disagreement?
Michael Hidalgo begs us to remember grace.
“If our words are to be filled with grace it demands we give a gift to others every time we speak or write words. And too many of us are not crazy about giving grace to others, because something in each of us knows grace is expensive. If we are to speak words full of grace it costs us something.
Giving the gift of grace invites us to think outside of and beyond our agenda, our opinion and ourselves. And this is where the real difficulty comes in.”
Hidalgo explains that if we venture beyond our “enclaves” and safe bubbles, we find a world full of people who believe differently than we do, who have vastly different experiences. We must learn to listen, understand, and empathize before we respond, he writes, even if we’re only trying to defend the faith.
“A few believe standing up for truth demands they attack those who seek to distort the truth. But this is not the case. If the truth is spoken without grace it is not true at all. It turns out we can be right about a lot of things, but if we do not have love we are dead wrong.”
In the same piece quoted above, Ron Edmonson offers 12 Ways Christians Can be Less Mean. A few of them include:
Consider others better than yourself. (Philippians 2:3)
Forgive one another. (Ephesians 4:32)
Be kind and compassionate to one another. (Ephesians 4:32)
Treat others as you would want to be treated. (Luke 6:31)
Honor everyone. (1 Peter 2:17)
Crosswalk author Felicia Alvarez also has a few tips that every Christian blogger should ponder. First, she says, remember why you write.
“Most Christian writers write to bless others—to encourage and equip the saints. But sometimes this noble goal gets lost in the daily routine of life… I frequently have to remind myself that I am writing to make God famous and draw people into a deeper relationship with him.”
She also reminds us to follow God’s leading in what we write.
“Remember, Christ cares for every single person. He’s willing to drop everything and go after one lost sheep (Luke 15:4). Your blog post may be the tool he uses to reach that stray sheep.”
Finally, be bold in love.
“Christians need to address controversial issues with a biblical worldview. However, we should blanket our message in love. Sometimes we blog about the right thing with the wrong words. If you are writing on a “hot” issue, consider having someone else read your work to assure that it doesn’t come across with the wrong tone of voice…
Am I turning people towards the Lord or towards worldly things?
Am I writing this with a holier-than-thou tone or one of genuine love?
Last of all, remember [this verse]: ‘But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect’ (1 Peter 3:15, NIV, emphasis mine).”
Do you struggle to show love on facebook, in restaurants, or just generally to people with whom you disagree? Do these suggestions encourage you to be more Christlike? Leave a comment below!
Debbie Holloway is the Family Life Editor for Crosswalk.com
Publication date: June 11, 2014