"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." -Emerson

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Dear Christian Friend on Facebook...

By: Catherine Fitzgerald

Dear Christian Friend on Facebook,

I know you watch the news. I can tell by your commentary and rants on reposted Fox News articles. I know the shifts of the cultural tides are really starting to freak you out, I get it. I really do. But, here is the thing: if you profess Christ, you’ve got a whole lot of hope in this world, even more in the next, and you know how it all ends, so let’s all take a deep, deep breath.  

I’ve been silently mustering up the courage to tell you all the things that go through my mind as I habitually scroll social media. I don’t think this current game plan is working. Posting a seething diatribe in the name of Jesus on hot topic issues, the president of the United States, or how this world is going to hell in a handbasket isn’t drawing anyone in to the greatest news of all. I’ve yet to hear of one conversion resulting from a disrespectful and downright unkind meme about the leader of the free world’s leadership. No one has ever told me that they’ve walked away from a sinful lifestyle because they were really convicted by the venomous posts from Christians railing against them on Facebook.

Truth, but what about truth! I hear you scream from the other side of this screen. We’ve got to make a stand.

If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

Jesus always gave truth, but He always did it within the context of a relationship. We must have relational leverage in order for any truth to be welcomed, let alone received. Unfortunately, we’ve clanged the symbol for far too long and have burnt bridges that are seemingly beyond repair. There are entire groups of people who are sick and tired of our brand of truth, to the point that they aren’t even willing to listen anymore. In fact, some are trying to make it illegal.

Here’s what I’m thinking to get this thing back on track. Why don’t we all take a big step away from the keyboard? Let’s stop airing every.single.opinion as if it’s the God’s honest truth. I’ve got a hard word for you and I promise, I’m giving you this because I love you:

            Fools find no pleasure in understanding, but delight in airing their own opinions. (Proverbs 18:2)

This social media thing has really spiraled out of control for even the best of us. We are now delighting in putting errrrrything we think about EVERYTHING out there. We witticize it. We pass it off as nothing more than a joke. We think in terms of our next snarky status. It's foolishness. And the whole world is watching and they aren’t impressed nor changed by this hypocrisy. They will know we are Christians by our political party affiliation and Facebook posts is not how the song goes. It’s love. Over and over and over again, it is boiled down to love.

Pharisees: Jesus, what’s the whole point of this massive book?

Jesus: Love God, Love people.

Before you start thinking about how you’re going to tear this apart in the comments section, question my application of scripture and refute all my points, I want you to take a minute to pray. In this Us v. Them group think mob mentality, how many of us have really taken steps to forage relationships with those whom some may consider them? For all the posts, the rants, the criticisms and judgments, what is the last loving thing you have done specifically for the people you may disagree with? Name the last homosexual you’ve had in your home for dinner. Tell me about the girl you’ve welcomed over for coffee who chose abortion over life. How many of your close friends voted for someone other than the GOP candidate? These aren’t the lines in the sand that Jesus drew. His line was much wider and one that tripped us all:

At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:2-11)

See what He did there? He stuck up for the perceived worst sinner by all the religious elites. He fought for her. They were ready to stone her. Imagine the virtual flogging she would’ve received by Christians on FB. They were ready to mock and turn her sin in to a meme for the masses. Think about the .gif that could’ve resulted from the first stone being cast. It would’ve been liked, reposted and made complete with its own hashtag in a matter of minutes. But, He came out swinging over the visceral attacks of the church going types. The truth that you so adamantly proclaim as your purpose for your harsh and often times cruel posts, only came AFTER He built relationship. A man willing to stand in front of the stones about to be thrown in your direction is a man who has your attention. He is the kind of man a sinner like myself might be willing to hear out about areas in my life that I need to change. A guy bucking social and religious mores in an effort to show a girl from the wrong side of the tracks some grace and love is the kind of guy that can turn this whole crazy train around for us.

I love you friend and it’s because I love you and care for you that I am telling you these things. I don’t want any of us to get to heaven to receive the same harsh judgment we’ve been doling out from the sanctity of our computer screens. This whole thing really could be resolved if we all spent a lot less time on social media and a lot more time getting to know the sinners next door, of whom I am the worst. There is a whole world reeling from broken and bleeding hearts that need some mending and we are the ones who know the remedy. Let’s not keep them from even walking in our door because of all the junk we’ve posted from behind an emotionless, safe machine of courage. Your words may be the cause of some of the blood from those hearts and you don’t even know it. Let’s try to undo all the harm we as a group have already done.

I’m thinking this might be the way to get a few more ears willing to hear us out on this whole matter of truth. What do ya think?


Your equally as sinful Christian Facebook Friend

P.S. No where above do I reveal my thoughts on aforementioned “hot topics” or current administration. If you want those thoughts, you’re only going to get them over some of my famous spaghetti at my kitchen table, not through some impersonal blogging post. Then and only then you can hear my tone, see my inflection, and ultimately, my heart.

P.P.S. My spaghetti is worth it. 


Toni Overby said...

Just found this through a friend's facebook page!!! Says EXACTLY how I feel! Thank you times a billion!

Grace and Friends said...

Thanks for your kind words Toni! I think a lot of us feel this way!

Anonymous said...

OMG I just love this!!!!!! Thank you for saying it so well.

Tim Sikkink said...

You are a good woman, Catherine. I needed to hear this. Thank you.

Catherine said...

Thanks Tim for your kindness! May we all be a little humbler and gentler towards one another.

Jeremiah Theiss said...

This is so solid. My son sent this to me after we had a similar conversation.
Proverbs 27:21 compares a furnace that purifies precious metals to praise. At first, it's easy to think the verse is saying that praise is a bad thing. But if you look at the original language, it's a simple comparison. The same thing that the crucible does to silver and the same thing that the furnace does to gold … That's what praise does to people.
When there is genuine praise in a relationship it softens people to the point where the impurities can come to the top and be dealt with.
Hardly ever, will an impurity be dealt with in someone's heart through a Facebook post.
Thank you for sharing such solid truth. Keep up the good work!!!

Catherine said...

Thanks Jeremiah! You are so right and we have to look at our methods for getting to the hearts. Thanks for the encouragement.

Casey said...

Thank you so much for this post. My family moved overseas a year ago and looking in from the outside has made it so much clearer to me how much hate is thrown around on social media in America... and in large part by the Christians. I appreciate the truth that you have shared in this article.

BinTN said...

OMGood'ness, I have made it my intent (or tried) from the first day I joined FB to not engage in divisive issues but instead focus on posting words of hope and encouragement, while sharing my "uglies" and loving my family and friends. This past week, I allowed myself to be caught up in the "rage" over the American Flags not being lowered to half staff - especially at the White House to honor the 5 Troops we lost in Tennessee! I've been sharing posts that are angry and I am so convicted by your words. THANK YOU for this post and your words of truth! I will be offering an apology to my friends incase I've offended someone! I needed to hear this message today and I will be more cautious in the future with sharing only love!

BinTN said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Yes, dear lady. I have been heartbroken over the way social issues are addressed by my friends and family on their posts. Love and relationships...not rants will be the way to change our broken world.

Sarah Craig said...

Thank you for sharing this - the issue has been on my heart for a long time, especially as the political season is coming upon us. Unfortunately, I will probably be blocking many of my Christian friends on my Facebook feed, just so I can look them in the eye at church on Sunday without cringing. I think we forget sometimes that real people are seeing our Facebook posts and that our words may cause many of them pain. Our pastor suggested a few weeks ago that we should pray for our country's leaders every time we think about saying something negative about them - it's good for the leader and it is a lot harder to revile someone you are truly praying for. People said it made them really think - but they're already back to slamming those leaders on Facebook. Maybe they need a reminder???

Catherine said...

Thanks Casey, BinTN, Anonymous, and Sarah for your comments. It's nice to hear that something you put out in to the world resonates so well with people. Let's keep trying to navigate Christianity in the midst of social networks and instant everything! I know we won't be perfect, but I think we can all get better!

Karis A said...

Hands down one of my fav blog posts EVER. Thank you!

Catherine said...

Wow Karis! That is very kind of you to say. So glad it spoke to you!

Gracie A. said...

Ouch! The truth can be painful. But the truth is that growth can be painful. It is so easy to get caught up in the issues and let your fingers fire back. I have always prayed that God would teach me and that I would always remain teachable. So many times lately, I have simply chose to say nothing because I didn't like where it was taking me. The truth is...Not everything on fb is the complete truth. Some things are put there for the sole purpose of stirring people up and bringing out the hatefulness we are all capable of. I don't want to be that kind of christian. I don't want to be that kind of person. This article will always remind me of that if I find myself forgetting what is truly important. Well said!

Sonya Tichenor said...

Yes! This is EVERYTHING I have been thinking! Thank you for expressing it so well!

Lori Grimes said...

So well said!! Thank you for writing about what so many of us are thinking! The hate we have seen all over social media from professing Christians has been so troubling. We can still hold firm to the truths in the Bible and yet love those who do not (yet) believe. How can we, as Believers, expect to show Jesus to a lost world if we turn our backs and use social media to shout ugliness. I pray that we can open our hearts and show the grace and love of Jesus to those who need Him most. God bless you!

Dee Humphreys said...

This is the third time I have written this post. hopefully this time will take. Thank you so much for the nudge. Sometimes I also get caught up in the local rants. Fortunately I don't comment but have been known to share a post. Our church always finishes service with "Love God and Love People" A simple phrase to say, but not always easy to practice. I needed to read this. Thank you Catherine, keep up the good work it is making a difference.

Catherine said...

Gracie, you are right. The truth is painful, but we have to do hard stuff in this world to BE different. Glad this made you think. Thanks for commenting.
Sonya, thanks for the kind words!
Lori, I know this has resonated with so many. It's a hard topic to discuss. Many of my Christian friends haven't liked these words and I can totally understand why.
Dee, you're not alone. We can all be better about extending grace and love, especially through social media.