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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Stopping the attacks

My friend Camy called me the other day about a post she'd written on her blog. She'd read an article that she found extremely upsetting and was even more upset by the level of comments she read. And you know, I was right there with her. I found the situation just as upsetting. But as I told Camy, it doesn't matter what she, I, or anyone else says in response, the article writer isn't going to wake up and say, "wow, I was wrong. Thanks for enlightening me." None of the commenters vehemently arguing against each other are going to take a step back and say, "You have a point. I'm so glad to see the other side." Instead, they dig in their heels, refusing to see the other side, and attack right back.

So today, I was reading some articles on the Internet, and saw a lot of the same sort of behavior ... worse, every attack seemed to end with some version of "you're not a real Christian if you think that," or "God would be really mad at you for saying that." I have a number of Facebook friends, and every time I log on, I am bombarded with messages of something that is against God... not going in to specifics, because those aren't important. For every person who says that liking apples is anti-Christian, I see posts from others who say that not liking apples is anti-Christian. We get into flame wars over supposed sin, and I have to wonder...

Have we missed the point?

Before I get people flaming me over this, let me be clear... there is a such thing as sin. And I believe that sin is very clearly outlined in the Bible.

But see, I don't think that is the point. We all know what sin is. Sure, some people will argue over it, and argue things like the definition of "is."  I look to Jesus, and what he actually DID in the Bible. He didn't sit around debating sin and pointing fingers. The only people he attacked were the Pharisees and their fake approach to religion. I think of James 1, and the warning in James 1:26 "Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless."

What do we gain by attacking people whose beliefs are different from our own? How is the Kingdom of God furthered by throwing stones at those we consider beneath us? The more I read the angry battles of words online, I am reminded of John 8:7 " When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”"

I don't know anyone who is without sin. I know a few people who think they are, but let's be honest- they're just as human and fallible as the rest of us. And yes, I will be the first to admit that I am just as guilty of running off at the mouth when I should shut up already.  

So what is the answer? 

Clearly, Proverbs 29:11 is one a lot of us (myself included) need to remember. "A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man holds it back." But I also like Proverbs 15:1 "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." One of my teachers shared that verse with me a long time ago, and I regret that I did not learn to take that advice until much later... in some areas, too late. But I hope, moving forward, I will be reminded of these verses, and instead of attacking, I will learn to give grace. 

Will you join me? I'd love to have some friends with me on the journey of learning to just shut up already.

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