It has happened to all of us.
We see something at Wal-Mart or in our neighborhood and we decide to provide some commentary on Facebook.
Then one of our “friends” sees our post and assumes we are talking about them. They get huffy, mean-spirited, and downright indignant.
Then we spend the next hour trying to convince them that, no, it wasn’t a response to something they posted yesterday. Or, no I didn’t know you liked to wear overalls and a sports bra to Wal-Mart. Or, no I didn’t know that you let your teenage daughter wear a bikini. I have never witnessed this. And just because I don’t think women, children especially, should dress that way doesn’t mean I was calling your daughter a whore.
It is a waste of time.
But I think it says two things about people.
1. They are self-centered.
I had an out an out Facebook brawl with a neighbor of mine, whom I had never met, who was “informed” by someone else that I had posted something in response to her Facebook post. (I was not even a friend of hers) She could not comprehend that life is not all about her. I was commenting on the gay marriage issue (which happened to be a tour de force on Facebook at the time during the Chick-Fil-A controversy). But my Facebook post was an attack on her. D-R-A-M-A.
It is one of those things that absolutely drives me nuts. And, amazingly enough, it seldom happens with my guy friends. The catty-gossip-drama angle of social networking has destroyed a lot of people’s lives and is good reason to keep kids off the medium. It is hard to teach your kid how to be a decent human being when you are laying into somebody because you are self-important.
2. They are Convicted.
Use social media for church commentary or to provide any commentary really and you will get someone who takes utter umbrage and false outrage at what you have just said. It is a new fact of life. But, I think there is something deeper happening. And I think it has more to do with the Holy Spirit than anything. If you call evil evil, you will get people who have a sense of conviction. Heaven knows that I have read articles and Facebook commentary and been pricked as well. For as much grief as I give Rachel Held-Evans, some of the things she says are true and accurate commentaries on the modern church (she unfortunately uses these commentaries to come to drastically wrong conclusions). I try to glean truth from everything I come in contact with. There is always a grain of Truth in most things. The trick is to build a beach. But sometimes the Truth still hurts. That is why it is called conviction.
In our society, we don’t quite know how to handle conviction well. Mainly because we don’t believe in a Truth as a society anymore. Without Truth, conviction is nothing more but casting judgement and assigning blame. In fact, the Christians who can’t handle conviction the worse are the ones whose hurt comes from not believing in Truth.
I joke that I have the gift of Stephen. It turns out that not handling conviction well is not a modern phenomenon.
51 “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, 53 who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.”
54 When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, 56 and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; 58 and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
I always imagine that verse 54 and 57 could be better stated today, “And when they saw his Facebook post and Tweet they were cut to the heart, and they angrily typed a 1000 word response about how he wasn’t nice and was a hater. Then they cried out with a loud voice in their mom’s basement, stopped their ears, and summarily unfriended him/blocked him and got all their friends to do the same. #StoneStephen”
So, the next time you write a Facebook post Stephen-style and prick some hearts with the Truth.
When you get the inevitable backlash, just respond, “If the Conviction Fits…”
We are called to speak the Truth in love. But remember love is our motive it isn’t watering the Truth down. Sometimes the Truth REQUIRES us to tell them they are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears. Especially when the church refuses to stand for the unborn, supports gay marriage, and is worried more about excusing masturbation than calling out ALL sexual sin. But also we have churches who build huge white crosses in pastures instead of feeding the poor in their community.
If the conviction fits…repent.