I’ve noticed a strange, somewhat disturbing phenomenon in recent years. I honestly don’t quite understand it. What is that phenomenon?
Christians treating other people in the most hateful, angry, unloving ways.
Recently, due to circumstances I still can’t quite figure out, my name ended up on a particular blog. That, in and of itself, is not particularly surprising. I’ve got a blog. I do the whole Twitter and Facebook thing. Some people are going to disagree with the things I say. I’ve got no problem with that.
What did surprise me was the things other Christians said about me in the comments section. These people, who don’t know me, don’t know my family, and will probably never meet me, resorted very quickly to straight out name calling. I’m not talking, “I disagree with Stephen,” type stuff. I’m talking, “Stephen is a complete and total idiot,” kind of stuff. I was also called a brainwashed kid, which, if you know anything about me, is pretty hilarious. I digress.
Now, call me crazy, but I thought one of the distinguishing marks of Christians is the way we treat one another. In John 13:35, Jesus said:
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
You don’t need to be a biblical scholar to understand this passage. The world will know we are Christians if we have love for one another. One of the primary things that sets Christians apart from the rest of the world is the way we treat one another. When the world sees the love we have for one another, they’ll know that something is different about us. When the world see the words we speak to one another, and the way we serve one another, and the way we care for one another, they will know that something is dramatically different about us.
If an unbeliever hopped onto various Christian websites, and started scrolling through the comments section, would he notice a distinct difference from any other website? Other than an absence of profanity, I don’t think he would. And that is really, really jacked up.
If we’re going to call ourselves Christians, it’s time to start acting like Christians. It’s fine to disagree with another Christian. It’s fine to point out erroneous teaching. But every action, online and offline, must be ruled by love. The command to treat others as we want to be treated, applies just as much to our online interactions as it does to our real-world interactions.
Before we post something online, we would be wise to ask:
- Would I want someone to say the same thing about me?
- If I were having coffee with this person tomorrow, would I say these words about them today?
- Do these words pass the Ephesians 4:29 test? (No corrupting talk, gives grace to those who hear).
- Am I using the phrase, “Speaking the truth in love,” as simply an excuse to gossip and slander?
- Am I, under the guise of “protecting the sheep”, simply being mean or angry?
The Internet is already loaded to the gills with meanness. As Christians, let’s not add to the noise.