I discovered two major trending topics on Twitter this weekend:
#SpiritualAbuseIs & #ChristianAltFacts
If you’re brave, go see for yourself.
Even if you take issue with what you read, the overarching theme is that our witness as Christians for the most part has become what we’re supposedly against and who we hate. We’re not talking about a few rogue internet trolls, we’re talking about major trending topics gaining global attention.
This highlights a question I’ve been struggling with for some time now. At what point does quietly minding my own and loving people the I can stop being enough? At what point do we stop saying it’s ok and cease to be complicit as the name of Christ is destroyed by those in places of power who claim to belong to Him?
People are walking away from Jesus. For some it’s because they see what the Gospel is about and choose not to accept it; but for far too many, it is because of harassment by those who follow Jesus. Is it ok to just sit back and allow this reality to take hold in the church? I fully understand that all of us in our sinfulness will slip and do or say something that may not might Christ attractive. My concern in this post is the blatant choice to express hatred and allow harm to other by Christians in places of power.
Yes, throughout scripture Christ calls us to something better than the brokenness we find ourselves in. But first, he meets people where they are with full compassion. It’s from those first merciful encounters with Jesus that people begin to see things in a new light, and hopefully begin the journey to becoming more like Christ. Paul’s letters with clear lifestyle instructions in the New Testament were written to the churches, the people who had already begun their walk with Christ. The harsh criticism that came from Jesus was generally aimed towards the religious elite who were more worried about who to keep out than who needed to encounter God’s great love.
Christ first and foremost calls us to Himself. Not to the Church, not to the Bible. Himself. We have a Savior who is Emmanuel- God WITH us. Christ’s suffering on the cross not only pays the penalty for the sin of the world, but demonstrates to us the depth of God’s love through solidarity with human suffering. Those of us who follow Jesus should embrace the compassion of Christ for the broken lives around us rather than allowing our hearts to be hardened to the point that our words and actions push others away instead of inviting them in.
If we follow the model set forth by Jesus, then it should reflect itself in who we spend time with and how we interact with them. Jesus was willing to break social constructs and cultural laws to meet people in the midst of their brokenness. He didn’t restrict their access to him by waiting for them to get their act together first. He didn’t make people prove their worthiness before performing miracles. Jesus doesn’t want to leave us in our sin of course. He calls us to a new and better way forward by the work of the Holy Spirit through the Bible and the Church. That starts with first giving people the chance to meet Jesus. Can you imagine what the world might look like if the church put more stock in the model set forth by Jesus?
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case as often as we’d like to think. I used to write off hateful Christians as the minority who happen to get too much attention by the media. That is likely still the case, but recent surveys, polling data, testimonies from victims, and past personal experiences are beginning to demonstrate it’s an increasing trend. As I read through posts on #AltChristianFacts and #SpiritualAbuseIs tags on Twitter, I got a taste of how of the world outside the walls of our pristine sanctuaries tends to view us. Were all those views accurate? Certainly not! But the fact remains that we’ve been complicit in allowing these misconceptions to permeate the airwaves. Do we really want to be seen as people who are happy with the possibility of losing more souls than we save?
I know that since all of us who are striving to follow Jesus are all dealing with our own junk, it will manifest itself in us through a whole lot of different ways. We are all hypocrites, and we need to own up to that. I’m not ignorant to the issues in my life I need to keep working on. I know I don’t have it all together. I also recognize Christians are called to live at harmony with one another. Does that mean we should ignore the abuse and harassment happening within Christianity? Are the souls of the lost and broken worth losing for the sake of gaining earthly power or a shallow sense of getting along with each other? Does there ever come a point we should stand up and say we’ve had enough of the damage being done to the Gospel?
I realize I need more wisdom in how I express it, but I for one, feel as though I’ve had enough. Anyone else? Now what?