Believers, Christ-followers of any denominational and doctrinal stripe – I’m talking to you. And me. Stop it. The whining. The complaining. Really. Before you speak, or type, another word about:
- a devotional practice or church tradition you have never participated in and therefore believe it must be specifically prohibited by scripture
- a politician or government policy, or the President, with clearly ill-considered sarcasm and disrespect and nary an ounce of constructive thought (much less action)
- you get the idea, right?
I see a lot of facebook status updates (and their attendant comments), and twitter updates, and blog comments, and forum comments over the course of a week. I have to say, a lot of them are whining or complaining. The rest are fine – running commentary on life.
I’m only talking about the sort that fling sarcastic, unhappy criticism out into the cyber world and are never followed up with contstructive action thereafter. Think – there are a lot of people who can see what you’ve said on the internet, people who may not be your direct “friends” on a particular social network. They may not all be as smart, enlightened, mature, or skilled in discerning satire as are you. And, in the written word, that discernment is mighty difficult because 85% of communication is non-verbal. Words are evocative, and 100% open to interpretation. [Public service announcement pause to tell you that I am completely calm, not angry, and not kidding about the subject of this post.]
Therefore, before you or I type another sarcastic, caustic, crushing word on your blog, a disucssion forum, facebook or twitter status… stop. Are you representing Christ accurately? Are you doing more than throwing words into air? If not, why not?
What do the scriptures say about tearing each other down?
How about tearing down those who do not believe?
Maybe, even if you don’t practice the penitential season of Lent, you could just try, for the next 7 weeks, to:
“[S]et an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” [1 Timothy 4:12b-16]
“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other” [Galatians 5:13-15]
We can communicate more clearly, more effectively, if we first heeding Paul’s teaching about his message (that of Christ) to the Corinthians in written and personally-spoken form:
“You are looking only on the surface of things. If anyone is confident that he belongs to Christ, he should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as he. For even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than pulling you down, I will not be ashamed of it. I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters. For some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.” Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present” [2 Corinthians 10:7-11]
Don’t hide behind your computer screen if you aren’t going to act on the words in real life.