Tuesday, June 29, 2010

And He Saith Unto Them... Don't Be a Jerk

In churchdom, the Big Sins are the obvious ones. Adultery will get you fired from that preaching job. A drug problem will get you removed from the worship ministry. Wearing a itsy-bitsy bikini at the church picnic may earn you a serious "talking-to" from the leadership.

But what about being a jerk? Do we let that slide?

Granted, it's hard to quantify. And when it comes to how we act ONLINE, it's often a little bit more hidden from the world. Blogs and comment boards are ready-made for flame wars of epic proportions.

Jonathan Acuff (of "Stuff Christians Like") wrote an excellent article on "Why Christians are jerks online." It's worth reading, contemplating, and discussing.

It talks about what Jesus said was the greatest commandment. It talks about beer and Bono and the bitterness of so many Christian arguments online.
    Loving your neighbor might be simple, but it’s not easy. Maybe my neighbor is a jerk too. Maybe they hate God. Maybe they are actively and violently opposed to everything I believe. And showing them grace feels impossible. So instead of dealing with that, we get online and police people. We find small things to focus on that will distract us.

    Jesus came for the mess-ups like us. Jesus came for the failures. Jesus came for the jerks. (That’s not in the King James version of the Bible, I remixed it like Timbaland.) And the truth is, grace is the antidote to being a jerk online.

How about you? Have you been displaying the grace and love of Jesus in what you type to random strangers? Why do Christians often look so bad online?

7 comments:

Craig said...

I see a couple different things going on here. . .

First, in the current cultural climate, anyone with firmly-held counter-cultural convictions (ie, that abortion, or sexual relations with someone not your spouse, are wrong), will de facto be counted a jerk by some folks, no matter how calmly or rationally those convictions are expressed. A serious Christian should not be surprised to find that that's the case. . .

On the other hand, there is a set of Christians who, knowing that the above is true, tend to see 'persecution' rather more often than might actually be the case, and so count it as a positive 'badge of honor' to be thought a jerk by 'the world'. And so they tend to come at 'the world' with their 'dukes up', rather too eager to pick a fight that doesn't need to be picked. And of course, 'the world' has no short supply of jerks of its own, and some Christians just have a hard time declining a fight when one is offered to them, without thinking about how they'll be perceived.

"Speaking the Truth in Love" is a real challenge, and we don't want to fall short on either part. . .

Of course, it isn't only an online thing, but I'm sure that the 'online world' makes it that much easier to flame someone who you can't see, and who can't see you. . .

Lauren said...

I see this as an example of Christians trying to be righteous rather than submitting to Christ's righteousness living through us.

This is not just a semantic point. One is self-determined, driven by self-will and leading to Pharisaism. The other is submitting to God, manifesting a new creature and living the life of Christ to those around us.

The sticking point is that we can't actually do anything to achieve the latter. Anything that is done with our own efforts is just a modern-day version of white-washed tombs.

True Christ-likeness is solely a work of the Lord. But He who has begun a good work in us WILL see it to completion.

Joe B said...

"Lord, shall we call down fire upon them?"

---- The Disciples

Joe B said...

Here's my wide-angle view of this. We want to know God, so we learn all we can about Him. So, we figure we know him, right? so then when anybody disagrees, or "understands" differently, we gotta straighten things out. After all, it's like they're distorting God himself. "Sorry you gotta die, buddy, but you're distorting God, and we can't have that, now can we?"

Scott said...

Craig, I understand what you are saying -- I agree there is RIGHT and there is WRONG. But I think, like you said a couple of posts ago, we can over-analyze this. Most people seem to know what "loving" or being "a jerk" are. Yes, a few people will think it's mean to just hold certain beliefs. But I think it's just as much what I tell my kids: It's as much how you say something, as it is what you say.

In related news, I came across THIS ARTICLE yesterday. I think it's a fascinating illustration of the flip of the coin. (And honestly, it surprised me.) A quote from a guy who really, really dislikes Christianity:

Teller and I have been brutal to Christians, and their response shows that they’re good f*cking Americans who believe in freedom of speech. We attack them all the time, and we still get letters that say, “We appreciate your passion. Sincerely yours, in Christ.” Christians come to our show at the Rio and give us Bibles all the time. They’re incredibly kind to us...

Craig said...

Don't get me wrong, Scott - I'm not remotely meaning to say, "It's their fault!", or "They started it!" Only meaning to say that, sometimes you're perceived as a jerk when you're not; but sometimes, you're (or should I rather say "I'm") just a jerk. . .

And I repeat - "Speaking the Truth in Love" is really hard to do, and you don't wanna come up short on either the 'Truth' part or the 'Love' part. . .

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