Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christians Arguing on Social Media: Somebody Please Make it Stop

This little blog of mine, where I used to opine. It's been a long while with no new posts to file...:)

But...I'm dragging out my soapbox and dusting it off now to step up and address something that I feel needs to be discussed. Cordially and respectfully. I hope.

Before I continue, I would like to request that you read this blog entry in it's entirety before forming an opinion. I know, wishful thinking, right? But still, I believe that you can do it. So, if you could just humor me and hang in there for the next few minutes, that'd be great. 

I just spent a very depressing and impotently frustrating several minutes reading the comments on a Facebook post by Ricky Gervais that happened to pop up on my newsfeed. (Yeah, thanks a lot to whomever shared that one...). Here is what he posted... 

"There have been nearly 3000 Gods so far but only yours actually exists.The others are silly made up nonsense. But not yours. Yours is real."
If you want to read it for yourself, here you go: https://www.facebook.com/rickygervais

Three tiny little sentences. Meant to be snarky and controversial. He laid out some juicy bait, waited for a nanosecond, and then got exactly what he was hoping for. It was beautifully executed for his purpose. Just like taking candy from a baby. *sigh*

First, came the atheists and agnostics and internet trolls, doing virtual high fives and posting memes with cartoon 'Jesus' images depicted in various situations, (some really disgusting ones, I might add) and other disrespectful and condescendingly arrogant and dismissive comments followed. It was interesting to me that for some reason, practically every comment that was a response in agreement with the original post, mentioned only one religion. Christianity. That's the cool thing right now. It's trendy to hate on Christians for their beliefs, don'tcha know? No mention that I could see of Krishna or Buddha or Vishnu and certainly not Allah. Because of course.

I wasn't terribly surprised by this but I did find it compelling. I think they target Christians in these situations because it's just more fun. We are predictably easy marks. I say this because just as quickly as the comments began, here came the Facebook crusaders armed for battle with Bible verses (many out of context) and links from Answers in Genesis, etc. There was outrage. Insults were thrown around. Self professed Christians were getting their undies in a bunch and throwing around phrases like "Well, you're an f-ing idiot!" Ignorance was mentioned (on both sides, rightly so) People were being damned to hell and castigated for being blasphemous heathens (I'm paraphrasing but I'm not too far off), and frankly, they weren't all wrong. the things that were said and some images and jokes were pretty heinous. Still, it's not the message I have a problem with. It's the method. I was groaning out loud and shaking my head. Literally. 

Please, my dear brothers and sisters... tread carefully or better still, please just stop. You mean well but you're making us look foolish and reactionary and in some cases, are just making the whole situation worse. There. I said it.

When did this kind of inflammatory and angry reaction to criticism ever win over a single soul? How can we make a case for Christ when we are jumping into the fray armed with righteous indignation and being confrontational, unloving, unforgiving and so easily upset? It boggles my mind. It really does. In many cases, when we engage, we only do so out of pure emotion. We react to our tender feelings. No matter how well meaning, it's a slippery slope and many lose their footing by becoming offended, emotional, angry and defensive. At that point, the victory in the war of words belongs to the unbeliever. The hope of winning the real battle, the battle for a lost soul, seems a moot point amid all of the posturing and debating. Speak out for Jesus? Yes! Absolutely do, but with self control and truth not insults and arguing. Think about it. Jesus was chill. He didn't roll that way. Are you with me so far?

Ok, good. So here's the part where I call myself out for being just a little bit of a hypocrite. I once used this very blog that you are reading right now to verbally rip into some atheist activists who got under my skin regarding a lawsuit they filed about the giant iron cross at the 911 memorial museum.  If you are interested, you can read that post at your leisure. http://livinglikekingsburys.blogspot.com/2011/07/you-havethe-right-to-remain-silent.html 
In my defense, I was not arguing with anyone in this post, merely letting off steam. Since this is a small blog that reaches a limited audience, there was no controversy. Just me and my humble opinion, which I'm certainly entitled to. I'm also relatively sure the atheists I was referring to in my post never even knew they were being addressed by me. No harm, no foul. I only bring this up to make a point.

I understand the indignant outrage. I understand the desire to squash the ridiculous misconceptions and outright lies being thrown around on social media about who we are and what we believe. Especially about WHY we believe. The problem is that grace, mercy, repentance and salvation are really difficult to explain to someone who has never 'been there.' The transforming power of Jesus is a very real but also very personal experience. It is something you can witness in others but unless you are seeking it, is a very difficult concept to grasp. God meets us at the level of our expectations. If you believe He is nothing, He is nothing to YOU. That is the difficulty we face as we lead our lives with a desire to reach the world for Christ. We are to be be the hands and feet of Jesus. Unless we are called to that ministry, we may not be spiritually equipped to be the mouthpiece. We can be satisfied with living an example of humility and service. His word can speak for itself. Jesus is completely capable of using us as He sees fit in the lives of others when we, ourselves, are living examples of His love and light. I think it is hard to use us as examples of His love and forgiveness...of salvation and redemption when we are combative and defensive and angry at those who simply do not accept Him or understand Him for whatever reason. They are given free will to choose not to believe. They laugh at us and they mock us, they treat us with arrogant disdain and in some parts of the world, truly persecute us. But, wait...why are we, as Christians, so surprised? Didn't Jesus tell us in His own words that this kind of stuff was going to happen? Of course He did. Check it out.

John 15:18-27 NLT
The World’s Hatred

"If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me. They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. Anyone who hates me also hates my Father. If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father. This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated me without cause.’

"But I will send you the Advocate—the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me. And you must also testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning of my ministry.

God doesn't need you or I to get all hot and bothered with internet commenters who do not believe in Him. He can defend himself. What we can do is ignore the haters, choose not to engage and keep our feelings out of it. These countless people on social media are not the problem and should not be the focus of our angry rants. They should be the focus of our prayers and our loving forgiveness. Why? Because we are not in conflict with people. They don't realize what they are missing out on. They don't really care to know. It's not a people problem, it's a spiritual problem. 

Ephesians 6:12(NLT)
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Jesus said it best when He said, "Forgive them, Father they know not what they do." He said a lot of really cool things like that. I love the red-lettered King James version!

How about this for a New Years Resolution: 
Try your best to not feed the trolls and haters. Don't take the bait, and no matter how tempting, choose not to engage. 

Except this one thing... this is for Ricky Gervais: 
(who will most likely never, ever, ever read this, so it's ok to respond to him, lol) 

"I can't speak to 3,000 other gods and I don't disrespect other people's religions as nonsense but this one thing I know to be true; my God is the one true God. He is real and He reigns! He loves you and He's longing to be good to those who are looking for His goodness. He wants a relationship with you. Yes. Even you!! Keep your head up and your mind and your eyes wide open because God works in mysterious ways. I'll be praying for your awakening!" 

Happy New Year!