Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dirty Little Secrets

We've all got them. Or, maybe it would be more accurate to say we've all got stuff in our lives we're not proud of. This stuff might not exactly be "dirty" or secret, but it's stuff we just don't go around speaking freely about. Instead, it's stuff that we much prefer to keep between ourselves and the Lord.

Last night I watched a scene in a movie where the bad guys were chasing the good guys. The bad guys were these uber-depraved, foul-mouthed blood-thirsty anarchists, and the good guys were on a mission to save the world from such types. Well, the good guys got away and the leader of the bad guys was SO angry he screamed this awful, angry scream and turned to his right and drove his fist into the face of the fellow-bad guy-anarchist standing next to him. It wasn't at all funny, but I laughed.

I guess it was the semi-nervous chuckle of "hey, that seems way too familiar for comfort". Not that I've ever done such a thing, but I sure have been angry enough in my life to want to hit someone like that. I'm pretty sure that crosses the line of anger and falls right into the blind abyss of unrestrained rage - but yes - I'm familiar with it. I suppose a lot of people are.

I think the only reason I'm comfortable admitting that is because I haven't actually driven someone in that moment of rage, like that guy in the movie. Had I done it, I'd probably not want anyone to know about it because it's pretty hard-core stuff. The only reason I mention this particular sinful attitude at all, is because the scene in the movie made me really think about how we can probably all relate to really ugly thoughts or behaviors that we probably don't want anyone to know about.

So then I read something today that really stood out to me, and without going into particulars it was a news blip about a well-known, professing Christian that has been exposed as (gasp!) a sinful man. I know, we're all shocked and surprised since we all know real Christians are perfect and never sin. I wish the professing Christian in this news blip had been sorrowful over his sinful conduct, but instead he was just sorry he got caught (embarassed his family and church/ministry), and is now very busy making all kinds of excuses for it. I suppose that's a good example of the difference between horizontal repentance and vertical repentance.

This got me to wondering, as Christians, what kind of attitude should we have toward fellow professing Christians when they behave this way? Should we blog about them and call them all kinds of condescending, insulting things? Should we just keep our opinions to ourselves and make it a matter of prayer? Should we comment publicly but in a way that simply makes it crystal clear that such conduct is not pleasing toward God, and not genuine Biblical Christianity at all? Well, I have my opinion and other folks have theirs, I know that much. I know some folks that never publicly comment on things like this. I've also seen great examples of both blogging and trashing, and blogging and Biblically correcting without the trashing. Frankly, I don't see it showing forth much grace when I see Christians tear another Christian apart publicly, and yet I do see that more frequently than I see the other. I've even been guilty of doing it myself, much to my own shame. Still, every single time I see it, WITHOUT fail I think "what if that was me?" What if, for the sake of argument, the Christian blogger Carla did something really awful and the media got hold of it. What if it were just bad enough that even by the anti-God culture we live in, it was rotten enough to make headline news? Lets also say, just for the sake of argument, I was very repentant and truly sorry for what I'd done, and even gave a public statement saying as much (instead of excuses).

I honestly have to wonder, which Christian bloggers would show me grace and support. Which ones would contact me privately and pray for me, and with me? Which ones would de-link me in a heartbeat then proceed to tear me up on their blogs? Which ones might blog about me and my sin and blog with facts, with grace and yet with truth? For the record, I haven't done anything worthy of headline news (eating the giant Cadbury bar doesn't count, it just means I'm a chocoholic), but I honestly have to wonder how I'd be treated by the online Christian community, if I were the one in the headlines instead of some other professing Christian. It's pure speculation since we really can't predict how folks will act, but I have to admit, there are some blogs out there that would scare me, if it were ME in the news.

Now this is just a thought, and folks are sure free to blog however they choose to, but maybe the next time a professing Christian does something awful, before blogging about it you might want to ask yourself what Matthew 7:12 means where it says "treat people the same way you want them to treat you". I was reading some of the notes for this verse in my e-bible program and I really liked what this one says from Barnes NT Commentary:

"This command has been usually called the Saviour’s golden rule, a name given to it on account of its great value. All that you expect or desire of others in similar circumstances, do to them. Act not from selfishness or injustice, but put yourself in the place of the other, and ask what you would expect of him then. This would make you impartial, and candid, and just. It would destroy avarice, envy, treachery, unkindness, slander, theft, adultery, and murder. It has been well said, that this law is what the balance-wheel is to machinery. It would prevent all irregularity of movement in the moral world, as that does in a steam-engine. It is easily applied, its justice is seen by all men, and all must acknowledge its force and value."

This is an area that I've become more and more sensitive to over the last few years, and I suppose it's the reason it stands out so boldly to me, when I see folks falling off the "golden rule" bus. This is not to point fingers at anyone or say I'm better than anyone else, but it is to say that we have a standard set forth in Scripture and we'd all do well to aim harder for that standard.

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