In the days after the November 3rd election, I scrolled through my Twitter and Facebook feeds, reading posts from people with crosses, fish symbols and scripture references in their taglines, that left me grieved.
They used words like, “go to hell,” held up their Bibles, guns, favored-candidate’s flag, and accused other Christians on social media of being “baby-killers” and “lost” because they pledged to pray for a pro-choice democrat if elected. In response I tweeted this question:
“Christian, if you’re cutting people off, calling them names, mocking and slandering them, how exactly are you loving your enemies?”
But simply sub-tweeting a pained reply to what I read on social media isn’t going to make the difference I long to see.
One of the writers I follow on Twitter, recently said:
“It’s easier to write a book about a subject than to live the subject in a low, slow, & consistent way. If we think we’ll make a bigger difference in the world thru publishing our message than by simply living our message, God will (hopefully tenderly, softly, kindly) correct us.” – @lorewilbert
Social media and the internet make it easy for anyone to write anything. But as Lore points out, living the words we publish in a, “…low, slow & consistent way,” is the real world-changer. The incarnation of our words is a demonstration of power. To persuade a group of people to like what you say or repeat what you say is a kind of power. But to take the words you say and live them out changes lives.
It was easy for me to post my subtweet response on Facebook. It will be much harder, and much more an evidence of the power of Christ in me when I love the people who post such things, the same way Christ has loved me.
I’m convicted that Christians are called to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48), do good to them (Luke 6:27), pray for them (Matthew 5:44), go above and beyond to show them unearned kindness (Matthew 5:40-42) give to them (Romans 12:10), speak words of grace (Collosians 4:6) and truth with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:14-16).
It feels weird to say it, but my “enemies” are people who use mean words on social media to demonize people they don’t agree with. Living out what I wrote, “low and slow” means praying for those people. Taking actual time out of my day to move my lips and complain to God, not social media, seeking mercy on their behalf just as I have been shown great mercy from Jesus. And if possible, meeting with them personally to humbly listen and share the truth and grace of Jesus.
Jesus is clear. The way he has prescribed and empowered us to follow him is from a humble, gentle, yet bold posture. A posture that doesn’t use words to tear people down or prop yourself up. The way commanded to us is a way of wisdom, self-control and gracious speech. But, is there a time for Christians to mock or use name calling?
In the Bible, Jesus called the religious leaders who tied heavy burdens on their followers and used them for financial gain a, “brood of vipers” (Matthew 23).
In the Bible, Elijah mocked the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:27) in an ancient showdown.
These examples make us stand up and cheer! We latch on easily to the person with the wittiest comebacks and sharpest jabs. We hear meek Jesus put those Pharisees on blast, and Elijah drop the mic on the prophets of Baal, and we arm ourselves Biblical support for mocking and name calling.
I doubt that any of us can, with a pure heart, call another people group a degrading name, or make fun of another religion’s gods, in a way that fulfills Christ’s commission to make disciples. But even if there are times when such shocking words are spoken with humility and boldness, these biblical examples don’t prescribe a mode of operation for Christians.
If our mode of operation as Christians turns from the humble, bold way of Jesus, to the in-your-face, mocking, proud, name-calling way of the culture and wayward leaders, I fear we will offend our neighbors and enemies and wall ourselves in tight from all opposing views so well, we will lose the chance to win them to Christ.
A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, And contentions are like the bars of a castle. – Proverbs 18:19