Over the past few weeks I’ve read, heard, and seen quite a few interesting things unfold online (particularly via social media) that have led me to write this. Whether it be the “celebrated” implosion of Mark Driscoll, the accusations of heresy directed towards Michael Gungor, or the viral outrage concerning porn star Sheena’s vlog where she claimed to be a follower of Jesus … all these things have one thing in common. Christians behaving badly.
I’m not going to dissect any of these phenomena, but I do want to share some of what I personally felt and observed as I saw toxic conversations unfold on Facebook, Twitter, and the like.
As I read posts and articles filled with a lot of criticisms I had mixed feelings. Often I wanted to post a reply but then I would sit back and think … “What exactly is bothering me here?” The funny thing is the more I examined things the more I realized that my own opinions weren’t necessarily worth sharing because they may be laced with my own critical tendencies. And that’s the point of this post.
You see, for years I claimed to be a Christian.
I “knew” my Bible.
I had strong criticisms that I often looked to share when I saw someone acting in a way that I didn’t see as “biblically” sound.
I was very intolerant of people that (I felt) lived in a way that wasn’t very “Christian.”
I was never short on judgment.
In fact, as ashamed I am to say it, there was a time in my life when I could have easily uttered the words … “Yes, but at least I’m not gay.”
All the time …
I lived how I wanted.
I didn’t really care what God had to say about my life.
I was addicted to porn and for most of that time didn’t give a crap.
I treated my faith as “fire insurance” but not as something that would guide my life.
I acted like a complete asshole.
I claimed to believe in an all-powerful God who actually died for me but thumbed my nose at him every day.
I judged others for their decisions and lifestyles rather than examining my own.
I acted like I had it all together when in fact I was a complete mess.
What other word would you use? I guess “hypocrite,” “backslidden,” and “critical,” all could work too and would be way more church friendly but really … those words don’t do it justice.
I was an asshole.
Here’s the scary thing … I’ve realized that in many ways I still am. In fact, at the end of the day I think we all are.
We all have our own areas of hypocrisy.
We all have our own areas of spiritual rebellion.
We all have our own blind spots.
We all (at times) think we have it more together than the “other guy.”
We all have our moments when we thumb our nose at God or think we know better than Him.
And honestly, I don’t think that any of us can get away from that reality (at least entirely).
After all, it’s human nature to default to …
criticism rather than encouragement,
hypocrisy rather than self-examination,
pride rather than humility,
and rebellion rather than submission.
The trick therefore isn’t overcoming our A-hole natures; it’s humbly owning them and considering that fact before we open our mouths and make situations worse.
Yes, Mark Driscoll MAY be a bully, or arrogant, or whatever else he’s accused of.
Yes, Michael Gungor MAY not have a “fundamental” perspective on Genesis.
Yes, Sheena MAY need to learn more about “discipleship.”
BUT, who are we to tell them that?
Are we their pastors?
Are we their parents?
Are we their accountability partners?
Do we have any legitimate spiritual authority over them?
Most of us are just people with an opinion that have no connection or relationship with any of them.
Most of us have no frame of reference when it comes to their life experience or their individual theology.
And NONE of us know the 1st thing about their relationship with God or their true heart.
Yes, I know … “Ye shall know them by their fruit.” Spare me.
King David was a man after God’s own heart and was an adulterer, a murderer, and in many ways a terrible father. Chew on that for a while.
My challenge to you (and myself) is this.
When we see something that rubs us the wrong way …
Humbly think before we tweet.
Check our own glass house before we throw the stones.
And own the fact that we may be operating out of hypocrisy rather than true love.
If we as Christians start doing this more often we might not stop being assholes; but at least we won’t look like ones as nearly as often.