For our church’s men’s retreat this weekend, we read sections from 1 Peter. One of my favorite verses is 1 Peter 2:17: “It is God’s will that by doing right you should silence the ignorance of the foolish.” People have been hating on Christianity since the begin. And Peter is saying that it is our responsibility to silence the haters with the witness of our integrity instead of whining about our “persecution” or media bias. Sadly, far too many Christians ruin our witness and rightly earn the scorn of non-believers by the complete lack of integrity they display in public discourse in social media and other venues.
In cyberspace, it is very easy to forget that we are ambassadors for Christ at all times. It’s a lot easier to put down the caps lock button and BLOW OFF SOME STEAM on our Facebook page than it would be to start screaming at people in the cubicles next to us. There’s a huge gap between how hateful we’re capable of being in person and online. But every time we write things that are scornful and arrogant, a hidden audience that doesn’t “like” our posts and doesn’t comment on them discovers one more reason not to try church. Not only do Christians write too many things in a poisonous tone, but we seem to have no qualms about spreading obviously false information if it supports whatever ideological tribe that we have replaced our allegiance to Christ with. And nobody seems to have the integrity to call it out.
Guess what? Dearborn, Michigan has not adopted Sharia law. Neither does Barrack Obama have a secret advisory council from the Nation of Islam. Neither are there secret communists operating in Congress. Neither did Bush cause 9/11 using Israeli Mossad agents. And when legislators propose clauses in anti-bullying laws to protect the expression of religious beliefs, they’re not being “pro-bullying” but making sure that kids can’t get suspended for voicing a difference of opinion when a teacher says to a captive audience that “it’s okay to be gay” (this has happened). So stop being slaves to the meme wars that make all of us feel sick and dirty. (Yes, I’m preaching to myself too.)
The information age has created a post-truth world where any jackass can viralize libel without consequences, where PR officials strategically misrepresent their opponents’ views because it gets more hits. 1 Peter 1:22 says that we are “purified by our obedience to the truth.” It is the ultimate farce when we who claim that there is an absolute truth show such thorough indiscretion in our willingness to participate in the trafficking of lies. Christians must be obedient to the truth. We are responsible not only for what we say but for what we don’t say when our brothers and sisters get sucked into bearing false witness. If we care about silencing Christianity’s haters, we need to speak the truth in love to other Christians who are hurting our witness through their slander.
If every Christian were willing to act with charity and integrity in what we post and share online, how many thousands of people would not be alienated from Christ as a result? We are responsible for “conducting ourselves honorably among the Gentiles… so they will glorify God” (1
Peter 2:12). Let us be a people who are known for our integrity in contrast to the shrill partisan filth that surrounds us. So think before you rant (I know I need that word as much as anyone else!). Peace.