I am by no means perfect or even very good at representing the nature of Jesus Christ when I am posting online – let me just confess that at the very beginning of this item. And I hope to keep it short.
But let me ask something … what is it about the posts online by Christians that makes them persuasive to you and leaves a good taste in your mouth and fragrance in your nostrils (Psalm 34:8; 2 Corinthians 2:15)?
Is it the author’s seemingly perfect knowledge of scripture? His/her mastery of biblical languages and literature? Logic which, at least on the surface, appears inarguable? An unswaying confidence in her/his correctness of interpretation? A clever and witty writing style? The boldness with which the author excoriates others who don’t agree with him/her?
Or is it something else? Maybe some things like:
“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” ~ John 13:35
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” ~ 1 John 4:7-8
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” ~ Matthew 5:43-45
Suppose you are not a believer, and out of curiosity about Christ you are searching the ‘net and come across some posts ostensibly from His followers. What leaves the best impression with you now? About them? About Him?
I just removed one of my responses to a comment on this blog a few minutes ago. I felt that neither my response nor the comment to which it responded (which I also removed) met several key criteria in communication from Christians:
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” ~ Colossians 4:6
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” ~ Luke 14:11 / “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” ~ James 4:10 / “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” ~ 1 Peter 5:6
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” ~ Ephesians 4:31 (I don’t think Paul meant for us to get rid of it online.)
“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
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” ~ James 1:5
And those quoted above, as well.
I am not proud of my response; in fact, I apologize for it whether you saw it for the brief time it was posted or not. It’s not the first time I’ve let myself get the best of me; there have been others when this blog was truly in my own eye. I have not always been faithful with my commitment to A Prayer Before Blogging.
Clearly, we all have a long journey ahead of us on the path to becoming more like Christ. Especially me.
I would like to erase my backward steps as easily as I removed those comments, so I can move forward with fellow believers. I can’t, though. Only Jesus can do that.
And it cost Him dearly.
4 thoughts on “A Word About Christians’ Posts Online”
Decent reminder, Keith. I should always remember, “Oh be careful little fingers what you type…”
Keith, I find it ironic that this particular post is the one I came across in an attempt to contact you and thank you for your very humble, gracious, and Christlike responses to some very challenging blog comment conversation that I was rereading just now. You don’t know me, and I don’t know you, yet our paths have crossed before in a way. I am one of the four women who shared her story in the “She Is Called” podcast that was circulated in September 2010, causing quite a theological ruckus as a result. For various reasons, tonight I found myself revisiting Mike Cope’s blog post about the podcast. It’s astounding how hurtful some people can be in their commentary and theological debates, often dehumanizing those they oppose (me, among them, in this instance) in some rather nasty ways. Yet you were a voice of sanity and reason and protection and grace. Consistently. I don’t know you, and I don’t know your theological positions — nor do I always know mine 🙂 — but your character as a believer and a person are clear to me from the ways you engaged that conversation, and I wanted to say thank you. All these years later, your Christlike presence in the comments section of that blog post bring me a sense of safety, of belonging, of being heard, and of being respected, regardless of whatever theological agreement or disagreement might also be present. So thank you. For the discipline and self-assessment and restraint you showed while commenting, thank you. For the ways you graciously spoke aloud the love and grace and transforming call of Jesus for all to hear, even if they wouldn’t accept it, thank you. For the ways you created safe(r) space for me to exist and share my experience as a wounded, passionate, and completely in love with God human being, thank you. For the ways you walked the protecting and self-sacrificing path of Christ, thank you. You have no idea how much it meant then, and how much it will always mean.
Thanks for posting your comment. I’m guessing you’re referring to the conversation at http://preachermike.com/2010/09/23/women-called-to-ministry-in-churches-of-christ.
So much has happened since 2010. My kids have grown up. My wife passed away in 2013. I had to pass the mantle of New Wineskins to other shoulders. I wearied of the constant bickering in the comment sections of NW and blogs like this one and Mike’s and others. I just didn’t have it in me to fight anymore, especially when fighting my own sometimes-angry nature as well as fighting what I believe to be wholesale misinterpretation and misrepresentation of what God has said in His word and through His Word, His Son.
After Angi passed away, I was one of three volunteer ministers at a church of 35-40 souls in Sylva. As time went on, and we could not reach consensus on whether women could speak and lead and in what ways, the number dwindled to its present 8-10. People I love and agreed with, including my two co-ministers, went to other churches. And for the most part, I agree and sympathize with their views.
Our church family agreed to combine worship and Bible class, and though women do not lead singing or prayers or communion thoughts, they are at least free to discuss during the teaching time that has replaced a lecture-sermon. It was not enough for some who left, and it was too much for others who left.
Why have I continued to teach at my church? Because those who remained love each other more than they love their own preferences and interpretations. They’re willing to agree to disagree, settle on a compromise and stick to it. It’s not a perfect solution, any more than we’re a perfect church.
And hopefully soon, I’ll be moving on as well, to rejoin my kids in Arkansas instead of being 12 hours driving-distance away from them in North Carolina. I’ll pray for my little church family here, and I will miss them dearly — all of them: those who left, and those who remain. I’ll pass the mantle of teaching on to someone else.
Sometimes, you just need to rest.
Yes, that’s the post I’m referring to. Thanks for sharing with me a little bit more about yourself and the journey you’ve been on. It sounds like it’s been a hard one, though a good and worthwhile one in so many ways. Thanks for your humble faithfulness to what you believe, and even more importantly, to the body of Christ. I hope your future transition to Arkansas works out well. I’m curious to know where you’re hoping to move to. I’m actually from Arkansas (and am pretty interested in relocating to the North Carolina area at some point in the future). Blessings upon you for the faithful work that you’ve done, and blessings to you as you continue down the path God shows you! I do hope you get the rest you so greatly need.