It seems there is a constant in the blogosphere today. If anyone wants to write about ideas concerning Christian Worldview or the tenants of faith there are nasty comments to follow. I was recently reading the CNN belief blog and found the responses to people working in the religious arena to be downright rude. It's almost as if there is this undercurrent of animosity towards things of faith, and I'm watching both sides react to the insults with more than a little concern. So what gives? Why is there a downright attack from people who don't agree with certain viewpoints? Just because you don't agree with someone, isn't there a place for civil conversation, or is the internet still the wild wild west, full of un-accountable trite comments aimed to just be mean?
A couple of thoughts that might help us understand the possibility of anger and animosity:
1.) Christians love to put their ideas in the public space in order to get nasty comments.
Ok, maybe that's a bit cynical, but let's be honest; it's a way easier way to promote a position of underdog if you can stand up in the middle of your group of friends and claim you're being persecuted. So I think there are some people who live in a space where they look for the most controversial things to write about, and invite the naysayer to have a play.
I think there's a real danger when writer's begin to use their platforms to evoke bitter responses, especially concerning faith. The very practice of trying to live under the guise of persecution begs the question, 'Who are you really writing for?' Are the writer's really trying to live in the fruits of the spirit as Paul describes in Galatians, or is there some sort of self interest involved.
Of course Jesus said, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first." (John 15:18), but I hardly think he was saying to go out and search for the hatred.
I recently was dealing with an issue on a college campus where the administration was asking a Christian organization to leave because of their consistent badgering of students. They would walk the student centers asking people, "Do you believe in Jesus?" and to some it became an uncomfortable situation.
Obviously I agree that the answers to the world's most critical issues center around the character, nature, and principles of the person of Jesus; but sometimes a bit of tact would go a long way. When the administration and the student organization sat down to discuss the issue, there were ways for the organization to continue ministry without causing disruption among the student body. But in the meantime, the leader kept writing his supporters to step up to the plate because they were being persecuted for their ministry.
Is that what Jesus would do?
Would Jesus enter a space and cause disruption for the sake of ministry goals?
Or, would he meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual nature of the environment He entered to provide solutions?
I think our tribe needs to be careful we don't simply become a controversy for controversy sake. We need to meet people where they are in order to show them how much God is interested in reconciliation, and often that takes the building of relationships rather than our traditional evangelism models.
And then if you're persecuted, I think there's a place to say, "don't be surprised if the world hated you." Remember, Jesus wasn't persecuted by the world, he was persecuted by the religious establishment for pointing people closer to God.
2.) It's easy to be a victim.
To many times my colleagues are comfortable playing the victim card. We tought how hard life is, and how the world is infringing on 'our' rights. And to that notion I ask, 'what rights?' What rights were you given that entitle you to a life free from disagreement? There are people in the world who are broken, riddled with pain, and don't want anyone to come and tell them what to do.
It's not our place to sit in the public sphere claiming to be victims when we believe the creator of the universe is interested in reconciling all things to Himself. If we truly believe in the God of the Universe and the power for That God to have the whole world in His hands, there's no need to claim to be the victim. Quite the contrary. You are a Victor.
You have the answers to life's most complicated questions. You don't need to stand up to defend God. After all…He's God. He doesn't need you, but He desires that we partner with Him in order to help rectify the ills of the world. James 1:27 says, "Pure and Undefiled Religion is this, that you take care of widows and orphans in their distress, AND that you remain unstained from the world." We have a beautiful purpose in our faith world to reach out to those in need, and to continue working out our salvation every day. Jesus didn't walk through the public space longing to pick a fight in order to be persecuted. No..
He walked through life forgiving sin.
He spoke life to those who had no life.
He healed those in desperate sickness.
He gave hope to people who had no hope.
No, we need not be claiming victim, but rather Victor!
3.) Sometimes we need to do a lot more listening, and a lot less talking.
Last week, I sat with a student who just knew he knew all the right answers for life. Of course he is a teenager, and we all know the time we go through life when we think we know everything. It takes years of education and life experience for us to realize we know a lot less than we think we do, but in this particular instance it seemed like with every possible question I was met with a definitive answer.
I wonder if some of the animosity towards Christians isn't center around the "We're Right and You're Wrong" fight. Both sides of the conversation need to be careful to humbly approach some of the tenants and traditions of faith where we think we know, and be honest to approach people with an attitude like "well, this is the best I got."
I don't need to convince someone else God is real, that's God's job. And I believe it's high time we let God have His job back. It's our duty to live with, serve, and be people filled with the humility we can only get from recognizing God is on the throne of heaven, and we're just human.
I wonder if the animosity would retreat around the globe if more people saw the heart of Jesus in those who claim to follow Him, rather than a tribe who's always looking for the next boogy man to jump from behind the rock to 'persecute' us?
Maybe that's just the way the world spins?
But I'm deeply concerned at the level of propoganda I'm hearing from the faith community, and I wonder if there's a better way to show God's goals instead of trying to live within our own.
No matter what country I go.
No matter what people group I deal with.
No matter what religions I encounter.
It's really tough to argue with someone who has someone elses interest at heart rather than self serving ones.
What say you?