Lately in my trips through the Christian blogging community I've come across a lot of links and posts that offer up all sorts of opinions and pronouncements about other people and their Christianity or lack of it. Some of them are really good - they're fair and even moreso encouraging and helpful. Others... not so much.
The thought occured to me as I read some of these posts in the latter category...
What if they were writing about me?
What if, all these helpful Christian bloggers found out about every single one of my faults and weaknesses (that remain currently between myself, the Lord, and those closest to me) and begin to dissect me on all sorts of blogs?
I know myself better than anyone reading this, and I can tell you without question, the condemnation and the judgements by some Christian bloggers would be swift, deeply insulting, condemning and crushing. See, I've actually lived through this before and I want to tell you from a Christian's point of view what it does to a young believer when they blow it big time, and have a majority of judgemental Christians around them - instead of the kind who extend grace and encouragement, while not excusing the sin.
It is spiritually and emotionally devastating. No matter how long you've been walking with the Lord, this will knock you down in a way you never expected it could, and in a way that you will begin to wonder if you're ever going to come through. It causes doubts, fears, pain, heartache, depression, anger, jealousy, grief, sorrow, divisions, loneliness, bitterness and malice. That's just for starters. The spiritual and emotional wrecking ball that begins destroying your heart and your mind when you're dealing with this goes on for a VERY long time, and it will take years of prayer, counselling and sometimes non-stop tears to begin to UNDO the damage caused. And this is just the beginning of the undoing. Guaranteed, you will NEVER be the same.
Some would argue that this is all a part of your sanctification. In some ways I agree, but in other ways it's truly heartbreaking that it's actually other Christians sinning against YOU, that God uses to send you through these painful trials. You're already standing before the Lord naked and ashamed, undone by your own sinfulness and piled high on top of that are fellow believers doing their level best to make you feel even worse than you already do. I've never been on death row, but I can imagine it would feel like walking to the chair while your own family spits in your face and snarls and says to you "good riddance, filth". Maybe there is one family member standing among them saying "I love you", and you do your very best to hang on to that grace and compassion with all you've got.
As a believer yourself, you begin to doubt all kinds of things. You begin to doubt if you're really saved to begin with. You begin to doubt what Christian fellowship really is, what grace is, what mercy is, what forgiveness is, and what real Christianity is. You begin to question your own ability to even understand these things at all, and while the judgements of other believers continue to pour in, the anger, bitterness and sorrow begin to rapidly build up. It's a perfectly natural human reaction when someone is hurting you, to feel these things. The more they do it, the deeper the anger becomes. The deeper the root of bitterness becomes, and you begin to have sinful and angry and judgemental thoughts yourself, about the very people that are hurting you. This breaks your heart that you're feeling this way and you dearly desire to be forgiving but you'd REALLY prefer the Lord knock them down a few pegs, before you do that. If it's in a public way that they've hurt you, you're really hoping it will be just as public that the Lord exposes them. You want revenge, and you feel like you deserve it, and you know this is wrong too because real Christians don't entertain thoughts of vengeance, do they?
So there you are, standing before the Lord dealing with your original issue that started the whole process, and fellow believers have reacted in a way toward you that has added a million other problems and sins and sinful thoughts and such. You're in a spiritual and emotional wasteland and eventually the tears just don't stop, and sleep becomes a welcome relief. Sometimes. Sometimes sleep is even worse, if the dreams come and bring it all back. This is the beginning of the depression. Maybe the Lord will be gracious to bring you out without therapy or medication. Maybe you'll sink much deeper before it's all over. Maybe that one family member who stood in the crowd on death row will come over and hold you while you cry, pray with you and for you, and remind you that there is forgiveness with God even if His people aren't always so ready to extend that same grace. Maybe.
This is a process that many Christians will never experience. They are most blessed, to have a Christian family around them that does not engage in this kind of condemnation. Yet for far too many other believers, they WILL go through this and they will go through it because of other believers. This is the most incredible and heartbreaking and ironic thing of all.
Believers who act and speak as if they themselves have no sin. Oh they admit they do, but they do it in a way that essentially says "but YOUR sin is much worse than mine". Believers who take delight in voicing their opinions of others, no matter how rude, insulting or disrespectful. Believers who want you to feel exactly as I've described above, because in their minds they're doing you a favor to help you feel conviction over your sin. Here's a newsflash:
THE HOLY SPIRIT DOES NOT NEED SINFUL, UGLY REMARKS FROM BELIEVERS, TO DO HIS WORK IN THE HEARTS OF HIS PEOPLE
Some would question why Christians do this in the first place. It's a legit question and one I can only answer from my own perspective. As unthinkable as it sounds after having been on the short end of the stick, I have actually done this too. I can only assume I did it because I am just as sinful as anyone else, and I learned by example and by influence that it was somewhat acceptable among certain believers to engage in this kind of conduct. Other more obvious reasons would be because it's so much easier to point out the ugliness and sinfulness in other people, than it is to stand before the Lord in full honesty with your own sins. It's far more comfortable to tear down someone else, than to have the Holy Spirit show you your true self.
I wrote this today for one reason. It is a warning to Christian bloggers who engage in this kind of tearing down.
You think you're defending the faith, holding up the gospel, and preserving the integrity of the truth of Scripture. You've convinced yourself that ANYTHING you say, will be justified because of your motives. There are others patting you on the back and encouraging you in what you're doing by linking to your posts and such. Let me now warn you - you have NO IDEA what you're actually doing. You are causing so much more harm than any good you ever orginally intended. You are causing pain, anger, division, bitterness, grief, sorrow and more. You are NOT the Holy Spirit and never will be. You are causing fellow believers to stumble, fall flat on their face, and even experience feelings of hate and malice toward you. You are crushing spirits, destroying lives, and tearing up families. The roots of bitterness that YOU are sowing among other believers will take them years sometimes to overcome, and while they make every effort to do that that bitterness that YOU have sown in them, will spill over into other areas of their lives. They might have marital problems, parenting problems, poor job performance, and more. Before you came along attempting to do the Holy Spirit's work in their lives, this bitterness didn't exist, but now you've planted it and nurtured it with your non-stop attacks. It's a deep root to pull out, and there will be much pain in the process. YOU are the cause of this, and you must answer to the Lord for it.
I know that there will be bloggers that read this (that do these things) and just wont care. Maybe they'll assure themselves I'm referring to someone else, and not them. Maybe they'll just ignore it, or make fun of it or make veiled references to it and mock it. We all know that happens quite often. I feel sorry for them, because eventually the bitterness they spread will leave them quite lonely themselves, and have a lot to answer for before God. I know others who will read this and may be heartbroken because they know exactly what it feels like to be on the receiving end - or - heartbroken because they are convicted that they have in fact done this kind of thing to others.
For those who fall into that latter category, I implore you to stop this immediately. I don't need to name names or provide links because you know who you are, other bloggers know who you are and most importantly God knows who you are.
If this is you, please step away from your screen, find a quiet place, get on your knees and repent before God. Let the Holy Spirit have His way with you and do the work only He can do. Don't pretend this doesn't apply to you if it truly does. Seek God's forgiveness, grace and mercy. He WILL forgive you, and He will set your feet on a brand new path of grace and truth.
May He have mercy on us all, and help us to truly live, think, act, speak and blog with this same grace and truth.