Has anyone noticed how easily we Christians get offended?
I read a recent rumor on Facebook about the Today Show supposedly editing out a reference to God or Jesus from an interview. There were some 75 thousand Likes and hundreds of comments. Most of the other comments were anti-media, or anti-Matt-Lauer, or similar sentiments, and most of these comments had hundreds of Likes. So did the many pro-Christian comments about how great God and Jesus are. Only two of those comments were links to sites discrediting the rumor.
There are two things that really bother me about that post. The first is the ease with which Christians share memes, and the second is the ease with which we get offended by the little things.
“What is Truth?”
Ironically, the meme led off with “Please read and do what you think is best.”
Why did so few people seem to think the best thing to do was to Like the post, or comment about how bad it was, or share it, all before (or more likely instead of) first checking to see if it’s even true?
I’d like to see Facebook add a button to the options under a post. In between “Comment” and “Share,” I want them to add a link to Google (or Bing; I’m not picky) with the keywords from the post. Even better: require the link be followed before the “Share” button is enabled.
Seriously. It takes maybe a full minute to think of the search terms, toss them in your favorite search engine, and skim the first ten or so results. Read a couple of those results critically, and then decide if you should repost that story.
Why is that such a big deal, you ask?
Because as Christians, we’re supposed to speak the truth.
Proverbs 12 says God delights in people who are trustworthy. Proverbs 6 says that a false witness is an abomination to God. Proverbs 24 says “do not deceive with your lips.”
I’m sensing a pattern.
William Barclay, in his commentary about Ephesians 4:25, which talks about laying aside falsehood, and speaking truth, quotes Samuel Johnson. “‘It is more from carelessness about truth than from intentional lying, that there is so much falsehood in the world.” Truth demands a deliberate effort.”
If we as Christians post news stories or memes that ultimately prove to be false, and do so without making certain that what we’re saying is true, then what does that do to our witness about Christ?
We proclaim that we’re Christians every time we post about going to church, or how blessed we are that something good happened or something bad didn’t happen, or post a Bible verse. And when we do, people start to pay attention to everything else we’re saying. When they see us posting things that aren’t true – or worse, ignoring the corrections of others who find our errors – we lose any credibility we might have, and poison any discussion we might want to have with them about God.
Because if we can’t be bothered to post truth on Facebook, what else are we not being truthful about?
This Offends Me
As I said, the meme led off with a plea to “do what you think is best.” Why did so many people think the best thing to do was to get offended and denounce something that wasn’t even true?
As Christians, we’re not called to complain about perceived insults to our churches, our denominations, our families, faith or even ourselves. There’s something in there about turning the other cheek, I think.
They’ll know we are Christians by our love, the song says. What’s loving about calling someone Godless, or worse? It’s cliché, but What Would Jesus Do? Would He get offended at a perceived insult, and write an angry post on Facebook?
Would He wish harm on the person or their family?
Would He ask Herod to help Him force people to stop insulting or offending Him?
I’ve seen purported Christians do all of these things, and I’m at a loss as to how any of this follows the example Christ set for us. Yes, He got angry and started flipping tables one day. But there’s a specific context to that. The people He was angry at were defiling the temple and defrauding the pilgrims there for Passover.
If they’ll know us by our love, shouldn’t we work a whole lot harder on showing this love, instead of showing our anger, or our hatred, or untruths?
What if, instead of reposting that meme, we spent thirty seconds or so at Google to make sure it was true?
What if, instead of adding one more comment about how bad this thing was, we prayed for the person who first posted it?
What if, instead of signing up for a boycott, we signed up to serve a meal at our local homeless shelter?
What if, instead of complaining about how bad things are, we actually worked toward improving them?
Jesus didn’t tell us to build these great big buildings for people to go to once a week and hire musicians and sell coffee and books and such. He didn’t tell us to ask the government to make people pray. He told us to love. To love Him with everything we have and to love others the way we love ourselves. To feed the hungry. To quench the thirsty. To clothe those without clothes. To visit the imprisoned. These were and are the greatest commandments.
There’s nothing there about being offended.
We should work on remembering that.
If we’re going to be offended, get offended by a veteran committing suicide daily. Get offended by 1,560,000 homeless people in the U.S. Get offended by half a million kids in the foster care system, and 15% of those in institutions or group homes. Get offended by 17,500,000 households in the US that don’t have enough food on a regular basis.
Get offended by human trafficking.
Get offended by innocent people spending decades in prison.
And let’s do more than post a meme of Facebook.The two greatest commandments don't involve being offended. #faith #Christians Click To Tweet