Is it just me or does it seem like Christians have been acting a little meaner lately?
Maybe this shouldn’t surprise me, but it does.
My mom was one of those who said “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” And mostly, my tribe has lived by that. Certainly you who read this blog are in that camp.
But, it turns out that church world can be a pretty darn ugly place. Especially in social mediaville. Go figure.
World Vision is a vibrant, effective, non-profit organization that exists to serve the poorest of the poor in Jesus‘ name. We believe the work they do, with extraordinary commitment and love, is amazing.
Two weeks ago the leadership and board of World Vision made a series of mistakes. Mistakes they are heart-sick about.
Mistakes that have undercut the trust of supporters, and deeply wounded gay people who are beloved children of God.
But I’m thinking, maybe the biggest mistake the leadership of World Vision made was to drastically over-estimate the ability of Christian brothers and sisters to live in unity and love while not agreeing on everything.
Sadly, it seemed to me that many in the evangelical world responded with swords of self-righteousness drawn, marking battle lines. It felt like everything was end-of-the-world-dramatic and horrible.
As I read the comments and tweets and posts I thought about our two daughters who are very different from each other.
One is an introvert – strong, with brown hair…wicked smart and a runner. The other is petite, blonde-haired, creative and committed to social justice. She does yoga.
Both are followers of Jesus.
They are beloved children of ours. They are beloved children of God.
They are different from each other, and different from us and (surprise surprise), we don’t agree on everything. But…
We wouldn’t say to either of them, “You can’t possibly love Jesus or spend eternity with Him or do good in the world because you disagree with us on gay marriage.”
But that, essentially, is what many in the church did in response to an HR decision that was trying to love employees well and fairly, and recognize that although World Vision as an organization doesn’t endorse gay marriage, not all Christians agree with them.
It’s like the church people with the loudest voices were shouting with hashtags like #WHOSINANDWHOSOUT.
I confess that there have been times when that has been me.
The thing is, I don’t see anyplace in my Bible where, because someone didn’t agree with Jesus, He said, “Nope, that’s it! Not gonna love you anymore.”#REJECT.
I don’t know that He’d be a hashtag kind of guy, but if He was I’m guessing it might be different than some of the ones I’m tempted to use.
In spite of the loud, pharisaical voices the world hears and has come to equate with “evangelicalism” – I am encouraged by some gentle-strong voices of friends who are saying with humility and grace, “We may disagree, on some things, but we both love Jesus and are trying to be kind and brave and love like He would.”
I believe there are many who would like to model a different kind of love to the world. I believe there are many who, even if they disagree about some of the things, would unite around the Main Thing.
I believe many who love Jesus would like to encourage one another under a new hashtag.
What if Christian organizations and churches and leaders united around the love that Jesus modeled? What if we flooded social media with words of compassion and life and encouragement?
Maybe we could talk to each other about the places we disagree face to face, where there’s room for nuance and expression and deeper understanding.
Will you join me in changing the hashtag?