Christians can be some of the meanest people you ever encounter.
Why is that? — I mean, let’s look at the facts for a moment…
Christians have the Truth of eternal life, their model for good behavior is a man who was actually God and perfect, they have been given both grace for their sins and forgiveness that they do not deserve and have not earned.. And, in return they are asked to merely love others, and love God.
Seems simple enough.. But, I wish it were that easy.
Somehow merely loving others does not seem to play into the every day reactions of Christians. Somewhere in the mix of being told to tell others, “Jesus loves you” Christians seem to scream instead, “I am RIGHT, and you are wrong.”
Now, do not misunderstand me here, I know the real thing that makes Christians mean: Christians are fallen, broken, and not even close to perfect, regardless of the role model…
But, what astonishes me is the ability for someone to go from talking about how much they love their Lord and Savior or “serving,” and then mere minutes later be intentionally reaming someone out for a minor offense. The real reason for the meanness likely truly stems from their internal voice wanting to be right or their personal feelings being offended.
Let me highlight a few things. First, the Bible is pretty clear about how to handle disagreements, conflict, and forgiveness:
“If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.
‘Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.’
At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, ‘Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?’
Jesus replied, ‘Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.'” – Matthew 18:15-22 (MSG)
Jesus leaves no room for Christians to choose to be right or arrogant, offended or offensive. — Our only true option is acting in love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness.
Second point, speaking personally, I have no inclination to help anyone who is in my face upset or yelling at me. — However, I will pretty much bend over backwards, for someone who has made it clear I am a priority and they care about me.
It truly grieves my heart though when I experience, hear about or watch Christians making fools of themselves with their attitude, complaints, and false pretenses of being better than someone else… Or worse yet, when Christians are straight up acting a fool and claiming it is on behalf of someone else.
I mean, I am a Christ-follower to the core, and I still act a fool regularly, say insensitive things, react poorly or flat-out respond in a harsh and entirely mean way. But, the reality is that it never gets me what I want, and I certainly never feel better after I “get it out.”
Really, the answer is “No,” it is not ok to break God’s commands merely because you are offended, upset or taking up the cause of someone else… In fact, God told David that he was to be ruler, and then he was presented with the opportunity to KILL the current king Saul in a cave. However, he chose not to because it was against the law to murder the king… And, lo and behold, God was able to still orchestrate David becoming king.
God does not ever require us to forsake His commands in order to “do good” or “make right” on His behalf.
So, a few challenges that even I myself, need to pay more attention to:
- Deal with conflict/concerns/issues/problems/frustrations Biblically.
- When you fail to handle a situation well, apologize quickly.
- Give up the false pretense that your feelings must mean you are correct. (ouch.. this one is really hard for me)
- Do not judge the actions of others and the intentions of yourself.
- When in doubt, fruits of the spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.
- When in doubt, love. Because love is patient, love is kind, love keeps no record of wrongs, love does not boast, love does not envy, love does not act unbecomingly, love does not seek it’s own agenda, love bears all things, love believes all things. Love. Hopes. And. Endures. All. Things.
When in doubt, love.. Not meanness.
***Disclaimer: I am not pretending that I have not also fallen into the behavior I am highlighting.***