I spend a lot of time reading social media and web comments. I try to keep my pulse on what people are saying, thinking, and wanting. I did it for five years in the news business, and it continues here. Here's my big takeaway: We are way too focused on being wronged.
I see it so much: One person disagrees with someone or something, and it becomes some knock-out-drag-out literary battle, using words and arguments taken from a fifth-grade playground. Oh, and of course there is some scripture thrown in there.
"We live in a culture of offense. In both public and private, people are always on the watch for some statement or group — somewhere — whose ideas might possibly run counter to their own," writes Lucy Schouten.
Preach it, Lucy.
Christianity is countercultural in its DNA.
I hope I'm not the first one to say this to you, but here it goes: As Christians, we should expect that there are going to be a lot of ideas that run counter to our own. Christianity is countercultural in its DNA. We need to be uncomfortable in a society that tells us comfort is the ultimate goal.
Well, that's exactly why I need to tell this person that what they're doing is wrong! Their sin is so offensive to me! I'm showing them I'm different!
Are you, though? Ask yourself this question, "Have I earned the right to speak into this person's life?"
Jesus could have been "offended" by a cheating woman's actions, taken up a stone, and joined the mob who just couldn't stand what she did. But he didn't. He bent down, wrote in the sand, and told her to be on her way — and by the way, stop doing what you're doing. Obviously his approach took care of what the mob's didn't.
Talk about countercultural.
But even Jesus overturned the tables in the temple! He got angry at sin!
Yeah, you're right, he did. But take a look at that story. Who was Jesus angry at? It was those who were using faith to benefit themselves. Those who were taking advantage of the temple instead of using it for its true purpose.
"Survey those to whom Jesus directed His strongest, most severe words," write Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola. "It was the self-righteous, judgmental Pharisees and Sadducees—those who didn’t see themselves as sinners but who leveled that charge against everyone else."
Allow me to contextualize that: Those who see themselves as the Christianity police, always on the prowl to point out how everyone else isn't living up to their standards. And technology makes that so easy and accessible. Think about it, 20 years ago you never would have known what Jason S. was thinking or doing 2,000 miles away. Now you see it the moment he hits enter on his keyboard.
You may not be able to convince someone Christ is the answer right away, but your words and actions can quickly and easily convince them that he's not.
In our lives, our attitude shouldn't be looking for wrongs, it should be looking for ways we can make things right in the world. How can we restore brokenness? How can I be different in this situation? We need to stop focusing on being right and start thinking about how to make things right. We need to stop focusing on how to win arguments, and start focusing on how to win people.
So ask yourself this, "Is writing this snarky comment really going to be the one thing that changes this person's mind? Is sending this Tweet and attaching #truth really the best representation of it?"
The early church was focused on relationships, on "how to stir up one another to love and good works." People were selling their possessions and giving the money away. Can you really convey that Christianity in 140 angry characters?
Think about it this way: You may not be able to convince someone Christ is the answer right away, but your words and actions can quickly and easily convince them that he's not.
And you know what? I don't care if that offends you.
(Photo source: Dollar Photo Club)