Maybe I am naïve. Maybe I have not been living in the real world, but it seems to me that the level of vitriol, accusations and slander INSIDE the church has risen in recent years. I average a conversation a week with a pastor or church leader that is recovering from deep wounds inflicted by another Christian. One pastor shared with me how the level of attacks got so bad his wife stated taking anxiety meds and every time the phone rang she would jump. Where is Jesus in that?
It’s common. It’s painful. It must stop.
When we seek to engage others in a destructive manner, it serves three painful purposes:
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. -Plato
I call it chasing “the devils rabbits”. Most of the time that is spent arguing and debating personal viewpoints that are secondary issues (and believe me, most are) is time that could be better spent in sharing positive messages, connecting people with Christ, and loving and serving our neighbors. At the end of the day, no one changes their mind and you don’t lose your old opinion, only a friend. I personally commit to spend less time responding and more time doing. Will you join me?
Do you ever wonder what people outside the church think about our petty fights? Do you think that by reading some of our “Adventist” websites and blogs they would see the church they would like to join or divisiveness they would like to avoid? Do you think our present conversation on Women in Ministry for example encourages or discourages unbelievers? Are you taking into consideration that your words against a fellow believer can be read by non-members? Is your tone helpful? Are your words building bridges or walls? At the end of the day, any conversation that keeps people from the kingdom is not productive, no matter how holy the author proposes to be.
If there is anything that breaks my heart more is hearing about good leaders that want to stop, quit or leave as a result of internet attacks. Some call it relentless. Some have shared with me that it took them into depression. I had a friend of mine that shared some worship principles in a conference, and when she got home, there were messages in her answering machine from other Christians telling her she was going to hell. All this over a worship style! Her mom heard it before she did and started crying. Words matter. They hurt real people with real lives.
My call to all of us, is to please stop. Please reconsider posting inflammatory videos. Don’t resort to personal attacks. Let’s be the church where unbelievers – while possibly critical of what we believe – stand amazed at how we love each other.“God is displeased to have brethren suspiciously pick up an item here, and a jot and tittle there, and construe these tidbits into grave sins. Complaining, fault-finding, and back-biting will be carried on to a large extent among the people when encouraged by the influence of the men engaged in the solemn work of the ministry. To disdain another’s work because it is not in your line of work is an offense to God” (12MR 381.1).