I think that 2016 will go down as the year that American Christianity jumped the shark.
And I say that as a Christian.
We have as a right in this country the ability to speak our minds. Fact is, some people shouldn’t. Not because of any totalitarian government silencing them, but because they have no wise filter ensuring that what they say should actually be said.
I think that 2016 is headed toward the nadir because Christian people cannot tone down the rhetoric on social media. Too much of what is said out there by supposed representatives of Christ not only has no Christ in it, but that vacuum gets filled by the Enemy. It’s rage-filled, hateful, denigrating, factious, and in many cases, known lies (which get a shrug when called out).
I understand that much of this comes from a place of fear caused by loss of power and control. But are any of those attributes associated with the Kingdom of God? No. In fact, in the Kingdom of God, loss of earthly power is a good thing, and fear gives way to love.
One of the realities that bothers me more and more is that while many Christians can recite chapter and verse from memory, scant few actually take it to heart and live it. There’s a huge disconnect between Christian knowledge and Christian praxis, and the praxis only come through wisdom, which seems in increasingly short supply. I am continually disheartened by Christians who can quote a bunch of verses on peace and love and then go out and attack others with distasteful words.
I do not want to add to the freedom of the Gospel by laying a weight of “do this…” activities on anyone’s list. I offer the following simply as questions that Christians should ask themselves when interacting with others, especially online:
- Am I being an ambassador for Christ? (In that role, am I working toward unity and toward finding common ground?)
- Or am I actually a fomenter? (Should I really join in an argument that will only further rile me and everyone else here, causing further divisions rather than unity?)
- Am I a safe person? (When I wade into a conversation, am I the person who helps tone down the rhetoric and earns the respect of both sides?)
- Am I sharing the truth in a winsome way? (Am I actively avoiding trying to score points for myself or my “team”?)
- Am I keeping the proper kingdom in view? (Are my eyes set on the Kingdom of God or on earthly kingdoms instead?)
- Am I displaying the proper citizenship? (Am I approaching this as a citizen of heaven or as an earthbound, sectarian nationalist?)
- Am I advancing the cause of Christ? (Is my speech here bringing people closer to Jesus or driving them away?)
There are too many Christians who believe that because Jesus said He came to bring a sword that divides (Matthew 10:34-36), even between family members, that this is to be their role as well.
Wrong. The role of the Christian is to be an ambassador (2 Corinthians 5: 18-21). Present Christ. Work toward reconciliation. It is not our job to be a divider. If there is to be any divisiveness, let Christ be the one who does it. Dividing is not our job and never has been.
If Christians want to know why our voice is less heeded in the marketplace of ideas today, it’s not because of conspiratorial machinations of shadow governments and their minions. It’s because our speech is no longer infused with the unique aroma of heaven. Instead, it takes on the same stench as the rest of the spewed vitriol the world dishes out. We have become indistinct, and we have done so because we have adopted the world’s speech and not the Lord’s.
Next time we feel compelled to press the Enter key on that Facebook or Twitter post, let’s run the seven checks first. We may find that what we have to say may not pass the tests and should be better left unsaid. Then let’s find a response that does and be those ambassadors we were charged by God to be.