Not long ago, Christians had a legitimate claim that our reputation was bad because the media was against us. That’s not the case anymore.
Oh sure, the media in general may still think negatively about Christians, if they think about us at all. But the days of blaming someone else for our bad press are gone.
Do you know why Christians have a bad reputation today? It’s not because of CNN. It’s because of our own Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and YouTube videos!
Every day, we confirm their worst suspicions. There’s no one left to blame but us.
Some Christians really act like jerks.
No, I’m not going to qualify that sentence by changing it to “some so-called Christians really act like jerks.” I’m talking about actual Christians. People who have a relationships with Jesus, read their bible, go to church, share their faith and love their neighbor.
Then they get online and reinforce all the worst stereotypes about Christians as self-righteous, ignorant, out-of-touch jerks!
And don’t even get me started on how Christians behave in the comment sections of blogs. Yikes! It makes me not want to like Christians all that much, myself.
It’s Up to Us
So why am I writing about this? Two reasons.
First, someone who loves us has to tell us the truth about it.
Second, this blog is read by a lot of pastors from churches of all sizes. (I see you, my megachurch buddies! I know you peek in from time-to-time. And I’m glad you do.)
Pastors, we have more influence over our fellow believers than anyone. But some of us behave worse online than our congregation members do!
I know. I read your blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and blog comments.
You know why so many Christians act like jerks online? Because they’re following the example of their pastor! (If that stings a little, please look back at my first reason for writing this again.)
A Double-Edged Sword
The gatekeepers are gone. With social media, there’s no one filtering the information now.
The days when you needed to get a TV series, recording contract or publishing deal to be heard by thousands, even millions of people, are no more.
I’m living proof of that. I started my blog about 18 months ago, without anyone’s permission. Just started writing. And right away, anyone on earth had free, 24-hour access to it. I also published my book myself. Then I made it available in print and electronically, not just on my blog, but through the biggest bookstore that’s ever existed. Anyone, anywhere can download a copy of The Grasshopper Myth and start reading it within seconds of hearing about it.
Our access is stunning. But with that access comes a huge responsibility. (Must. Resist. Spider-Man. Quote!)
More than ever before, we have an obligation to act in a Christ-like manner. Not just in church, but everywhere.
WWJD? Isn’t Just for Bracelets
You know that argument you had on Facebook over some point of theology, politics or morality? The one where you got upset and said some things you regret? It wasn’t a private conversation. A lot of people read it.
Imagine that everything you say is going to be amplified over a microphone into a crowded room full of friends, family and strangers. That’s what your Facebook page does.
People see it when you lose your cool and put a religious argument ahead of being gracious and kind. Including new and not-yet Christians. Did that conversation draw them closer to Jesus or push them farther away? And please don’t tell me that’s not the point. That’s always the point!
No, we don’t have to curb everything we say so that we’re posting nothing but St. Francis of Assisi quotes on Thomas Kinkade paintings. The strong tone I’m taking in this blog post should be proof of that.
We can and should make strong, even bold statements. But we must do it without being disrespectful, arrogant jerks about it. Or mean. Or downright un-Christlike.
It is possible to respect the truth and respect people who disagree with you at the same time.
But when we say cruel things online, there’s no taking it back. Online is forever.
People are watching. The world is watching. More than that, Jesus is watching. He said we’d be held to account for every careless word. Careless keystrokes are no exception.
We are his representatives with every word we utter, every video and meme we upload and every keystroke we hit.
So what do you think? Do we need to be more careful about what we post online?
We want to hear from you. Yes, you!
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