I often browse the comments to online stories I’ve read. Others’ perspectives offer me a fuller picture of the topic and help me solidify what I feel about it. But I must confess that reading Comments sections is now against my better judgment.
People are mean and crude and vile. I mean, Whoa! I find myself reeling at folk who allow their deepest and worst reservations to boil out when it is entirely unnecessary (is it ever necessary?) and uncalled for.
But sadder is when I read Christian material, including on Facebook, and find comments of the same tone. No, they’re not lewd or evil, but biting and unloving.
What I discover about Christian people in these comment sections is the almost irresistible need to call people out—for a different thought or belief pattern; for doctrinal stance; for needed correction on a matter. And the arrogance! I’m convinced that Pharisees yet live.
I’m not sitting here donned in the cape and spandex shorts that I wear (ahem) when I’m online crusading against ungraciousness. But sometimes I really do feel like a caped crusader when I use my night vision goggles to pierce the darkness of smug remarks or my brass knuckles to beat the sense into—gosh, I apologize! I get a little carried away.
Jesus, Full of Grace and Truth
John describes Jesus this way: “and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (1:14, NASB). The splendor and renown of Jesus lay in his plenitude of grace and truth.
The people I encounter online always seem a little one-sided. They get the truth part; they know the Bible, its doctrines, the ins and outs of church, all necessary parts of the whole. But the missing element always seems to be graciousness—the kindness. It’s the problem of graceless Christians that Phil Yancey so lucidly describes in his What’s So Amazing About Grace?
Why is this so hard for some of us?
When I daydream about life on the scene with Jesus, I sometimes envy the disciples who got to watch Jesus model how human life should be lived. I’m sure the time wasn’t as meaningful to them in the moment as when they had the chance to look back on the three years spent with him. Still, they experienced a pinnacle moment in human history that I wish I could have now with Jesus, knowing what I do about his requirements for me.
I say that because I truly strive to live for God. I am blessed to have a stronger knowledge of theology and spirituality than many people around me. That’s no banner I wave but, in my opinion, just part of my devotion. And that is my point; I hope you don’t miss it. If I should say that I have truth, by which I live and that serves the kingdom, its ultimate purpose is fulfilled only when it humbly seats me before the God I love so that he can transform me, fellowship with me, and be glorified in me.
We forget that we still have to love people, and it is part of our worship to God.
So many people act like God’s bodyguards…um, that ain’t necessary. I think he gets along fine. Oh, let me fend off some of you: I understand the need for apologetics; I don’t forget that our God of love is a God who loves justice; so forth and so on. I GET IT. (Putting my boomerang down.)
But what would help our credibility as Christians in today’s society is getting Jesus’s words out of our heads and into our hearts: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). Christ-followers devouring one another is not an advertisement for Christianity; instead, it’s a warning to stay away.
I’ll wrap this up by painting a picture of what graciousness looks like. You add your own illustration. Let’s begin this way: Being graceful is…
- Living honestly toward God, oneself, and others.
- Acting on the behalf of others without expecting anything in return.
- Sincerely praying for people.
- Guarding your tongue regarding others and matters.
- Living toward people with service to God in mind.
- Thinking well of others and offering them the benefit of doubt.
- Truly loving people regardless of who or what they are.
- Allowing the Word of God to alter our behavior.
- Bearing the courage to tackle our prejudices and reservations head-on.
- Knowledge of how to live decently toward others.
- Refusing to be jaded and negative.
- The choice to be good to people when they don’t deserve it.
- Preferring others and genuinely caring for their wellbeing.
- Doing to others as you would have them do to you.
- Cultivating the fruit of the Spirit.
How well do you show grace to others?