This post is very different from my normal blog style, and I realize this title may come across as harsh to some. That’s truly not my intention. But lately, I’ve been noticing some things, and my heart is hurting.
Disclaimer: I’m writing this to Christians, because I am one, and therefore can speak to those ones. I’m not writing this to the world, though the world would benefit from it, because the world hasn’t been called to love. Does the world need to love and be loved? Yes. Does the world sometimes love? Yes. Has the world been called by God to love? No.
But we, as Christians who profess the name of Jesus, are called to love.
I recently took a long break from Facebook. I like to use Facebook for keeping in touch with my friends who live miles away, sharing really good quotes I’ve recently read, and sharing pictures of things that matter to me, such as my friends and family. I don’t use Facebook for posting minute details of my day, debating heavy issues, or arguing with people I’ve never met over heavy issues. Is it just me or does it seem like in the last 2-ish years, social media has pretty much turned into a debate club? I’m also not looking down on anyone who does use it for these purposes. We each have the freedom to do things the way we want.
However (and again, this is directed at Christians), arguing back and forth over cultural, religious, or moral issues on the internet to the point of threads becoming full-on fights, is a very poor representation of Jesus. In fact, just plain old arguing about things is a poor representation of Jesus.
People are dying and hearts are hurting all around us, and we’re over here arguing on Facebook.
I’m not trying to say that discussing issues or asking people online what they think about issues is wrong. If that’s your thing, I’m not judging you. You do you. But if you’re a Christian and you’ve been a host or member of a few hostile debates, please take a step back and consider what your involvement is accomplishing.
Do these arguments cause people to come into agreement with your stance on the issue? Do they make people think about why your stance could be right? Or are they just feeding disdain, resentment, anger, and hostility?
I’ve often seen that these arguments don’t really go anywhere. They kind of just end. They end with people feeling misunderstood, frustrated, attacked, or judged. If that’s the end result, in my opinion that’s very much a waste of time. And more than that, it’s a waste of opportunity to reflect Christ.
The root of all these pointless arguments and debates and bashing others for thinking differently than we do – is offense. Obviously.
We’re offended. We’re offended quite a lot.
We should ask ourselves why we are so offended. What about the thing you just read or saw is making you offended? What feelings does it stir up in you when you see/read those things? Are you upset because you feel attacked? Are you upset because you feel made fun of? Search your heart and find the root cause of your offense.
Guess what? If we are Christians, we are called to love. We’re called to other things as well, such as standing up for truth and righteousness, speaking out against darkness, and using our voice for the voiceless. But those things are not what I’m focusing on today.
Today, I’m calling all of us who profess the name of Jesus, to search our hearts and discern the kind of image we are portraying of Jesus.
The world is offended by many things, all the time. But don’t you think that as Christians we should be looking less like the world, and more like Jesus?
Jesus stuck out from the crowd, majorly. He didn’t look like everyone else. His life didn’t look like everyone else’s. His heart didn’t look like everyone else’s. He stuck out like a sore thumb.
I’ve noticed that we, as the Church, the Body of Christ, don’t really stand out from the world very much. It might be difficult for people who have never met us to even know we were Christians.
Why is that?
We lack love.
Scripture is very, very clear and simple on the issue of offense:
“Love does not take offense.” – 1 Cor. 13:5
“Is not easily angered”
“Is not easily provoked”
“Is not irritable or resentful”
It sure seems to me like a great many of us are pretty easily irritated and provoked.
We lack love.
I don’t say these things to condemn any of us or make us feel ashamed. I say these things to call us to a higher standard.
We are called to represent Christ. Every time you say or do something to or about another person, keep in mind that you are representing Christ.
If you lash out at someone because they said or did something that irritated or offended you, that action you just took told them something about Christ.
What did it tell them about Christ?
I would like to suggest a few practical things we can do to help change the way we think and act toward others.
- Don’t use the internet for settling issues. Take your arguments elsewhere. If they’re not important enough to discuss in person, they’re not deserving of internet time. If someone posts something that “offends” you, for whatever reason, it’s okay to feel offended, but the mature response is to not use the internet to reason with them or tell them you’re offended.
- Let go of offenses. Yes, I realize this can be difficult. But Jesus did it for you. He did it for you many, many times. If you’re offended, you don’t need to act on that offense every time. Take it to God, and ask Him how He feels about it. 9 times out of 10, you’ll probably find that He isn’t offended. So you shouldn’t be either. Let go of more offenses than you hold on to.
- Change your heart and stop getting offended over things that don’t matter. So someone didn’t agree with you and maybe didn’t say it in the most kind way. Forget about it. Don’t go around clinging to that offense. The truth is that it really will not matter if two people disagreed on something in a few years. No one’s salvation is dependent on your agreeing. Don’t write off that person in your mind. Love them. Try to see every person as a deep, beautiful, valuable creature who was made in the image of God (even if they don’t know it or act like it) and has layers upon layers of things you don’t know and probably never will. You don’t have to understand someone to love them. Just choose love. Rise above the immaturity and decide to be mature and respond in a way that pleases the Lord.
- Take a break from social media. It’s as simple as turning off the TV. And I can bet that you’ll probably wake up with a much better, healthier attitude in the morning when you realize you don’t have to be offended at things today.
Thanks for reading, and remember that if you’re a Christian, you are the fragrance of Christ to a lost and dying world.