I’m frustrated. I’m discouraged. I wish I could read ministry blogs and twitter feeds without encountering harsh rhetoric and personal attacks. You may have no idea what I am talking about (if so that is good) but I fear many of you have witnessed this divisive obnoxiousness. Christian leaders are being tarred and lit on fire in front of our eyes on twitter and various blogs. This should not be so! When did it become ok to shoot our own, especially when they are already wounded? How can we justify launching grenades into the barracks of our comrades?
Brothers and sisters, our mission to make disciples is too urgent to waste time on such trivial matters. Before we are tempted to write scathing blog posts about various Christian leaders or attack them on twitter, may we heed these admonitions:
1. Speak the truth in love.
We must speak the truth. We need to call out error. But we must do it in love. If we call out sin in a believer it must be in the spirit of Galatians 6:1 – “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” We must get this! Too much of what I have seen and heard lacks even the hint of gentleness.
The Internet has made it possible for people to do and say things online that they would never do or say in person. In situations like these, that is a curse. Speak the truth but do it in love. Expose error with gentleness and genuine concern for a fellow brother or sister in Christ.
May the words of Paul in Philippians 4:8 guide us as we think and write: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” There are too many true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy things that we can think and blog about without thrashing about in the gutter of contemptuousness.
2. Remember the world is watching.
It saddens me to consider that the world is watching us castigate our own. We often demonize those in Washington for backbiting and viciousness but have no problem imitating that behavior in our own little Christian ghetto. This is not what we want to be known for!
We should be known for our love for one another. We should be known for our humility. It is impossible for us to be salt and light in the world when we have forfeited our saltiness in favor of harsh rhetoric and snuffed out our light in favor of self-promotion. It is no wonder that a lost world looks at us inquisitively, wondering why we say one thing and live another.
3. Consider the depravity of our own hearts & magnify God’s grace.
We are way worse than we ever imagined! It is amazing to me how I can easily spot sin in someone else’s life without seeing my own. Jesus warned us of this very thing in Matthew 7:3-5 – “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” When was the last time you read a blog post attacking a Christian leader that began with the author of that post confessing his or her own personal sin?
Every believer has experienced amazing grace. We have all been saved out of depravity and darkness (Ephesians 2:1-3) and yet we often forget that reality. I am not advocating morbid introspection of our sin (Jesus’ grace delivered us from a life characterized by sin) but it is helpful to remember exactly where we were when God saved us. We can and should boast of nothing except the cross of Christ and God’s amazing grace!
Pray before you write. Pray before you speak. If a Christian leader is in error, pray for them. Pray for God’s convicting truth to pierce their hearts as the Holy Spirit works. Pray that God would raise up leaders in their life to guide them to truth. Pray, pray, pray.
Then pray for yourself. Pray that God would help you remain true to His mission of making disciples instead of focusing your attention on someone else’s failure. Ask God to give you a passion for encouraging others and lifting them up when they are down. Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart for areas of unexposed sin and bitterness.
I’m convinced that if we spent half as much time praying for Christian leaders as we have spent discrediting and disparaging them, we would realize very little good comes from personal attacks. The last thing the blog world needs is another critic – be an encourager. Be an intercessor.
The reality is that God has not called us to be “Holy Spirit Jr.” When we take on this role in someone else’s life we elevate ourselves as gods and it was that exact promise (“you will be like God, knowing good and evil”) that Satan used to deceive Eve in the garden. May we trust God to work his process of sanctification in the life of every believer (especially Christian leaders) to conform him or her into the image of His Son. There is no doubt he will accomplish this mission (Romans 8:29-30)!