For once, I kept my foot out of my mouth. Chalk it up to the grace of God.
I had a dilly of a post ready to go today. I’m telling you, it was a stinger: a polemic against the type of non-biblical garbage Christians post on social media that completely undercuts their testimony of Jesus being Lord in their lives. It was clever, it was tightly argued, it had an altar-call ending.
But it was not pastoral. It wasn’t kind. It didn’t take into consideration that each of us is at a little bit different stage in our growth and maturity.
This morning, on the bus, I started reading a book called Blind Spots by Collin Hansen (review coming probably next week). From the outset, Hansen punched me in the gut a bit as he talked about how we talk about the church being divided, but we’re quick to publicly point out the mistakes of others. In our rightful defense of truth, we miss grace. We expect everyone to be just like us and develop blind spots to our own weaknesses.
I realized that today’s planned post was polemical but not pastoral, critical but not constructive. So with literally seconds to go, I stopped it from going live and threw it back in the drawer for a while. I need some time to smooth out the jagged edges and sand down the splinters.
Here’s the irony: the big finale of the post was the statement that our social media interactions preach a sermon about who we are, who Jesus is, and what we believe. However, the post I wrote to communicate that truth was less like Jesus than it should have been. Maybe it was preaching a true sermon after all; out of the abundance of the heart, the blogger types.
Don’t misunderstand me: I believe that hard words make for soft hearts, so hard truths are necessary. There are times to cry out woes against the spiritual hypocrisy of hardened, self-righteous religious folks. (Folks like me.)
But I realized that some of things I was addressing and considering in my critique were being posted by people who are still really young in the faith and don’t know any better, or who may not really be believers at all. In such cases, my mission isn’t to call down shame on them, but to come up beside them and lovingly challenge and correct foolish behavior. In fact, for most of the people I’m thinking of, a word or two might be all that’s needed. Those with hard hearts may need more than that, and if so, then a private word is still the wiser path than oblique public scorn.
So. Consider this a public example of how God is revealing my inner Pharisee and slowly, so slowly, refining my heart so that I will be a better disciple and pastor. Learn from my mistake. Hold-fire on that rant you want to post. Consider your words, consider your people, and consider if delivering the truth more graciously may help it be received more readily.
Something to think about this weekend.
Peace and grace to all who love the Lord Jesus Christ.