Is it just me and my life or do others feel spiritually ill at ease? My senses are heightened and I am more sensitive to conflict or disturbances in relationships. The other day I was trying to talk to my son on a cell phone (I do not own one I was using my other son’s new Verizon, anyway). The son I was talking to was using a cordless phone and had gone outside. What he was saying to me kept cutting in and out and I found myself getting extremely frustrated. In another area of life I over heard a conversation on Facebook (because my son has been reading it aloud to me). My son was commenting along with a few others on a post one of his friends wrote. (My last post was actually spurred on a bit by some of this overheard conversation). The harsh and judgmental voices of some on the post have stirred a frustration in me toward my fellow Christians. Do we honestly believe it does not matter how we come across to the rest of the world, that as long as we are speaking truth (or at least our version of truth) the tone we take and the venom we spew is unavoidable?
Most of us are familiar with the saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” I do not know if a greater lie has ever been told. Not only can what we say be false and therefore hurtful but the manner in which we speak can, and sadly often does, break the heart of God. I know I am not immune. I have said hurtful things in the past and being so opinionated I am likely to do so again. But, as ugly and angry as I have gotten, when confronted about my attitude I nearly always feel regret. Some of the people in my son’s conversation on Facebook sounded all too familiar. I have been running into those voices more and more often while browsing the web as the institutional Church starts to feel more and more threatened by outside forces and more and more desperate to hang on to what its got.
My grandmother used to say, you can attract more flies with honey than with vinegar. As a little girl I never understood why you would want to attract flies in the first place but now I understand what she was actually saying. Our speech and behavior, when gentle and kind, is going to draw much more positive attention then if we are harsh and belittling. People are more likely to consider what we have to say if they think they, too, have been heard and if we bother to take their questions seriously. And, if we are in the process of meeting a need at the same time they are even more receptive to our words.
I personally believe our actions speak louder than our words. So, if our feet and hands and hearts are a testimony to the love of God then the words we need to fill in the gaps are pretty few. The Word to us is clear. We are to obey His command to love the Lord and to love others as we love ourselves. We are to feed the widows and orphans. In so far as we are able we are to live at peace. We are to remember those in prison. We are to pray. We are to submit one to another. We are to be ready with a testimony. And, we are to abide.
No where in scripture does it say to beat up the other guy until he thinks the way you do, even when it come to the really big sins, like being gay, or pro-choice (not to mention gluttony, greed, or gossip). Our mandates with regard to sin are also clear. We are to restore repentant believers gently. We are to remove the planks from our own eyes before we attempt to remove the speck from our brother’s. And, we are NOT to judge, lest we be judged.
Some of the people my son was talking with on-line love to talk about how much they feel the Holy Spirit at work in their lives, how the only thing of importance is their pursuit of truth, and how they are running hard after God. These are not bad things. However, when we spend too much time patting ourselves (and others we think are like us) on the back for our spiritual prowess and then turning around to point our fingers at the lowly sinners we begin to sound a lot more like the Pharisees than the disciples.