Christians, I mean. Probably some are outraged at the title of this post. "How inappropriate for a pastor to use the 'p' word in a public forum!" Even though we'll all hear far worse words than that tonight on TV and not bat an eye.
As much as I love the internet and all it makes possible to me, it also serves up an unloving and quick-to-judge side of us Christians.
This writing is fresh off yesterday's post on worship by Tim Stevens (original post, followup post). And before that, it was the firestorm of anger toward Rob Bell.
Here's the response to Tim in a nutshell: "How could you? You're immature. You're embarrassing. You annoy me. You're elitist. Self-absorbed. I've lost all respect for you. Quit being so self-serving, I'd never go to your church..."
(To be fair, several posters thanked him for his transparency and honest sharing in the spirit of helping us all get better and for saying what they'd wanted to say.)
Sadly we Christians respond just like the culture does these days. If people think differently than we do, we write them off personally. Jab their character and throw stones.
In terms of Tim and Rob it's as if their body of work up to that point didn't matter; like they're as good as their last soundbite.
I think a better way to love is to ask questions. A better way to love may be to seek first to understand (S. Covey), rather than condemn. It looks like this:
"Tim, it reads to me like you're tearing people down, being sarcastic...was that your intent or am I misunderstanding?"
"What was your purpose in writing that--I think I missed the point--I'm confused by it. Can you help me understand?"
Those are better lead ins, I think. These questions presume the best about a man who's served God in incredible ways for decades.
I'm talking about civility. Assuming the best about someone with different opinions. Respecting someone simply because everyone has value. Civility is hugely missing in our country right now.
I believe civility ought to be thriving amongst God's people. I remember reading somewhere about people outside the faith knowing Christians by how much they loved each other.
And why I'm here...I don't understand the general defensive and argumentative nature about the topic of worship among Christians in social media. At the heart of worship is this idea of unblemished lambs; bringing something excellent.
As far as I can tell, when talking about a skill set like musical worship, pursuing excellence and getting better requires discussions, feedback, coaching and evaluating.
Maybe this subject is a powder keg because we musicians are touchy, sensitive and opinionated as hell instead of being totally surrendered to heaven. (That was just for me. I'm a musician and I struggle.)
This world is watching us more than ever, because what we say isn't hearsay anymore. It's written word for word on Facebook and Twitter. And our piss and vinegar interactions enable would be Christians to look in and say,
"Eh, it looks as jacked up as political circles to me--I don't need more of that crap in my life."
We have the Love of the world inside us. Let's let Him out--especially when we don't agree with someone or understand where they're coming from.
Love does indeed make all the difference.