Christians, we know people don’t like us. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, they didn’t like Jesus and he even spoke about how the world wouldn’t like his followers (1 John 3:13-14). My non-Christian friends say that Christians are some of the most hate-filled people they know. Most of the time we can combat statements like that with truth. But I’m realizing that almost every time I log on to Facebook, I agree with them.
Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.
We may center our lives around ideas of forgiveness and other fluffy words like that, but we don’t act it out on a daily basis. Sure, maybe we don’t invade cities and kill hundreds of people like they did in the Old Testament, but we do let resentment grow to the point where we commit murder in our hearts. We hide behind our screens and passively tear people down, it’s disgusting, it’s wrong, and it’s turning people away from God.
I don’t even really acknowledge the posts where people are directly stating names and bashing people online, I mostly just ignore them and think, “they’re probably just crazy!” The posts that make me sick are the ones where:
-Person A is posting something obviously directed at someone, and another user, we’ll call them Person B, comments something like “Totally understand…” or “I feel your pain…praying for you” or “I know…”
What are we, thirteen? Person A, you’re only making whatever situation you’re in worse. Person B, you may “feel their pain” but you, are the one you need to pray for.
When non-Christians see these passive-aggressive conversations taking place between believers online (and they do), no wonder they think we hate people. Because we’re showing them that we do! You may think that you’re a loving person but when you talk poorly, intentionally hurt, or even hint at insulting someone on social media, you have already committed murder in your heart (Matthew 5:21-22).
This post is a long time coming and I have actually been wanting to upload it for a while. I wrote the beginning of this blog post a few months ago. Expect each time I find the courage to post it, someone I know or have mutual friends with on Facebook has posted something similar to what I mentioned above, so I delay the post. I would never want anyone to think this is directed at them because then I would be doing the very thing that I dislike. We’ll just say this post is directed at anyone who goes to church and has social media (including myself). It’s time to speak up.
For the love of God, put down your laptops, phones, and pride and pick up your cross!
Passive-aggression on social media upsets me so much. In high school, we called it “subtweeting” someone. This basically means posting something about someone that is rude or vindictive without directly saying their name to avoid them knowing. Except everyone knows who you’re talking about anyway (that’s kind of the point). I don’t know why this upsets me like it does, maybe because I am a super blunt person? Even when I was little and had chores to do there was only one way to appropriately ask me to do anything, “Jordan, can you please do XYZ?” You ask me to do something, I agree to do it, everyone is happy. If you absolutely wanted to set off little Jordan, you could say something like this, “Hmm…Someone needs to empty the dishwasher…” Absolute rage. Little Jordan temper tantrum right away. My husband can attest to my sheer utter need for people to be direct. And I am learning to not get so upset because that’s not right either.
My abhorrence to passive-aggression isn’t just an opinion. Any thought, idea, or suggestion I have for the church, if I can’t back it with the Word of God, is meaningless. So let’s look at what scripture says.
Whoever gives an honest answer
kisses the lips.
Honesty is best. Don’t tell me you’re “just being honest” online, because you’re not or else you would talk to them directly.
It is well with the man who deals generously and lends;
who conducts his affairs with justice.
When we hurt other people through social media, we are not conducting our affairs with justice like we’re called to.
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
If someone hurts you, don’t hurt them back.
1 John 3:18
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
We can say we love people and love God, but when we type things that tear people down we’re not walking in love, we’re not loving in deed and in truth. Basically, actions speak louder, folks.
The thing that we should be asking as Christians is, “Where is this aggression coming from?”
Confession time: I’m kind of a complainer and God is showing me how to improve. Tucker once said to me, complaining about someone or something just comes from a place of entitlement. So this anger, that makes us feel justified to speak poorly about someone, isn’t even anger at all. I would argue that it is the very thing that brought sin, sorrow, and death into the world in the first place, pride. I think I am better than you, or I’m right and you’re wrong, so I am going to share it for the entire world to see that I am better. But the Bible tells us to humble ourselves, not seek out arguments (Ephesians 4:31-32), and to forgive even when we are in the right. Best example I can think of…Oh I don’t know, maybe Jesus?
Was Jesus in the wrong? Did he deserve to die on a cross? No, not at all. But he forgave us anyway. He didn’t carry a cross saying things like, “I am doing this even though you-know-who struggles with anger and will continue to get upset and lash out even after I die for her…” He knew he was blameless, perfect, better than I or anyone else will ever be, but he still carried the weight of my sin. He still forgave me and died for me even when I was/am/will still be wrong.
Okay so Jordan, I’m incredibly upset and need a place to let it out. What is a person to do instead of vaguely sharing about it with my Facebook friends? Well maybe instead of spreading this hate on social media, we should be seeking wise counsel from a trusted friend or mentor (Proverbs 11:14). You can talk to them directly about someone. You don’t have to passively explain the situation. You can express your anger, sorrow, angst, whatever else it may be and then pray together. Don’t meet with someone and dress it up as “seeking wise counsel” just to gossip about someone else, because that’s not glorifying God either. Tell them what’s going on, how you’re feeling, what you’re struggling with, and then make those requests known to God. Pray for change in your heart, pray for forgiveness, confess these feelings of pride and entitlement to God and know that he is faithful to forgive you. Next, pray for direction. Ask God how to wisely handle the situation, how you can conduct yourself in a manner worthy of Christ, and then delete whatever you typed before you post it and make matters worse. Listen to God and he will tell you what to do…
-Maybe God wants you to forgive this person and move the heck on. I know plenty of people who have deeply hurt me and I chose to forgive them. The next step was to simply try my best not to come into contact, and that’s okay. The best way for me to love those people is to not hang around them and let that anger build up. No one says you have to be best friends with them, but God does say, you cannot hate them.
– Maybe God wants you to meet with them in person and just tell them how they’ve hurt or offended you (try to avoid texting or calling because even that often makes things more confusing). Because maybe they don’t even know that you’re upset. Misunderstandings ruin relationships. Sometimes my own anger clouds my ability to genuinely think through things. Don’t yell or get angry, just talk, like normal human beings. Work through whatever it is, learn to live at peace with them, and allow your relationship to lead people to God, not turn them away. Matthew 18:15
-Or…(this one is the hardest) maybe God shows you that you have allowed your pride to cloud your vision so much that you became the one in the wrong. Perhaps you need to meet with them, humble yourself, and ask for their forgiveness.
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
It is incredibly hard to love people. It is even more challenging to love people you spend a lot of time with. Maybe that’s why it feels like people in church are always fighting. The irony of it all is that if we picked up our Bibles as often as we pick up our phones, the church would be a really different place. If we were to seek counsel before we open our mouths, we wouldn’t look like this big messed up family who can’t keep their stuff together on social media. Then maybe people would actually want to come to church opposed to running away from anything that resembles Christianity.
If you didn’t get anything from this, just get this one thing: If you’re feeling the urge to post something passive aggressive about someone, just don’t do it, even if they’ll never see it. Pray about it, ask God for forgiveness, and then put the phone away. We represent Christ, it is as simple as that. So let’s start representing him more accurately (Ephesians 4:1-2).