I have to say something.
All social media – especially Facebook, I am convinced, is the biggest detriment to our society – EVER – because it is ANYTHING but social… But its claim of being social makes us feel ok about being condescending, passive aggressive and hateful. We say things on social media sites that we would never say to someone in person. Even the use of familiar terms like “conversations” or “Friends” are hijacked by social media site creators to make us feel more connected into their virtual world and make the very abnormal feel normal and well, social.
Typically the first response I get to anything I write or say about this – is that if I hate it so much – I should just delete my social media accounts. And I get that. But the thing is… if I want to see my goal accomplished of social media being brought down – what better way to do so than from the inside?!? mwah ha ha ha ha haaaaaaa!
What usually happens that sets me off on one of these tangents… is I read something a “friend” has posted that was intended to stir up anger and then I read all of the “well thought out responses” to said post – and I get discouraged… Discouraged that our interactions are so cold and spiral downward so quickly. And even more discouraging is the fact that sometimes, most of the time, the most discouraging posts/responses come from people who claim Christ.
Here is the most recent example of this: A friend of mine posted this as his status on a social media site: Ryan Meeks of Eastlake Church can no longer accept excluding his gay friends from church. He also had a link to an article in Time Magazine that will be covering the story about America’s first mega-evangelical church performing gay marriages.
There was an immediate response from 70 or so people to his post.
The responses ranged from the super supportive of his post to the vitriolic hate filled responses. The worst of which came from 2 people in particular. One was an obvious atheist who essentially said all Christians were selfish, judgmental, hate filled, idiots. (That’s a paraphrase but I’m not gonna copy all he/she said.) The second was from a proclaimed Christian who said (paraphrasing again) that all gay people and anyone who supported gay people would not be going to anyplace called heaven.
Let me take this opportunity to reply to both of these responders.
To the atheist: I am the senior pastor for one of the, to use your label, “heartless conservative churches of America” … You pulled my church into your comment when you classified all Christians and churches the way you did. The problem with your label of us is we are far from heartless though yes I would say for the most part conservative… We are very outreach oriented, trying to be difference makers in our community and ALL, without exception, are welcome at our church. Everyone is deserving of God’s love and of knowing His Son Jesus. Your labels are lazy and quite frankly, ignorant. Your broad characterizations have blinded you from getting to know Christians personally all around you who I can guarantee are anything but what you have labeled us as. Stereotypes of any group of people is NEVER helpful nor is it accurate… ever. So stop your stereotyping. Stop it!
To the Christian: I attended a lunch meeting not too long ago where there was a round table discussion with the topic, “Should we baptize homosexuals?” – and yes, I’m serious that that was the topic. Everyone was supposed to answer this and explain their answer. I wondered how Jesus would answer and so when it came to my turn – I simply asked if anyone had actually had this situation even come up in their church… Sadly – for the vast majority, it had not. My follow up comment was that maybe we should ask – first, why was that the case that for the most part it had not ever even come up in our churches? That to me was troubling. And second that maybe it made more sense to ask the question “Should we baptize the obese? Or the divorced? Or the gossipers? Or the greedy? Or the liars? Or the judgmental? Or the selfish?” I had a strong feeling that all of those situations came up with much greater frequency. Jesus always seemed more interested in confronting sin that pointed to dark parts of us that ultimately point to selfishness… the sin of disregarding our fellow man and God because we are so focused on our own desires. The reality is that Christians are not called to judge but rather to speak truth in love – always. I don’t shy away from the Bible and what it says about any sin no matter how un-pc it is… nor do I shy away from the grace and mercy and love that Jesus delivered on a cross of torture and death for all who simply will receive it. Can gay people know Jesus? Can the obese? The divorced? The adulterer? The murderer? The liar? The thief? The lustful? The wrathful? The selfish? I think the answer to all of those except one is YES – because only one of those by definition will never seek anything or anyone that requires denial of one’s self and they will more than likely never recognize their own need for a relationship with God. I’ll leave it to you to decide which one you think cannot. (Hint: IT’S THE SELFISH!) So stop your judging. STOP IT!
I guess in reality I don’t hate social media. In truth – I like to see your pictures of your families and your funny videos of cats scaring dogs and the hilarious pranks you play on your spouses and your links to cell phone commercials made in Korea that make me cry. I guess what I hate is how quickly we forget to follow a simple command… to love God and love people and instead we love using our words to tear down and destroy and in the process… Jesus is completely forgotten. Stop forgetting Jesus. STOP IT!
– – –
Jason Rehmel is the Lead Pastor at Eastside Christian Church on the east side of Cincinnati. If you are someone who has had a terrible experience(s) at a church or churches – stop by some weekend and give it one more shot with Eastside. Whether you have felt judged, or dismissed, or unwanted – Eastside is different.