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A Gentle Answer Turns Away Wrath
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Prv 15:1
Have you ever read the comments under Internet news posts and on message boards? The veil of anonymity gives some the courage to say things they would never utter in face-to-face social situations.
I posted a topic to a Christianity forum*. My topic was headed by the question: “Why does America have a low tolerance for Christianity?” In the actual message I cited the recent protests to prayer events (using Gov. Rick Perry’s Day of Prayer as an example) and the lawsuits filed to remove the reference to God from government buildings. I asked why, in a country founded on Christian principles, was there such a backlash to Christianity. I wrote wanted to know if others felt it was a response to certain Christians or a response to Christianity as a religion. I knew this type of question would be polarizing and incendiary on a political forum, so I felt safe posting to a Christianity forum.
I shouldn’t have.
First, there were those who opposed my writing that America was founded on Christian principles. Some provided evidence to counter that, so I apologized if my belief is not factually correct. (Note: I based my assumption on the Declaration’s assertion of “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them” and “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”) My goal was to discuss with other Christians the state of Christianity in America, not to debate American history and politics. Yet, there were those who chose to politicize by posting responses that “blamed” President Obama, the liberal left, the conservative right, Republicans, Democrats and all other political parties and affiliations. To my surprise, a large percentage of non-believers were followers of this forum. They explained why they had issues with Christianity – no proof, the Bible is just a collection of entertaining stories, there is no “Magic Guy in the sky”, etc.
Then there were the responses from the Christians who followed the forum.
I was disheartened to read posts from passionate Christians that were filled with insults and hatred. I was equally disheartened when those same Christians doubted my Christianity because I did not join them in insulting others for posting their points of view. You should stand up for God, one wrote. I have never felt that hurling insult for insult is the proper way to resolve anything. I certainly don’t think it is a proper representation of the Christ in me. There is enough conflict in the world. I would rather provide gentle responses with the hope of continuing a discussion with a non-believer that prompts him to read Scripture. If just one non-believer decided to continue his study for a better understanding, then it would be worth it for me. I don’t feel that my willingness to openly discuss Christianity constitutes a weakness of my faith. I do feel the inability to respectfully and intelligently discuss our Lord and Savior reflects a less than solid understanding and knowledge of His teachings.
In Luke 9:5, Jesus instructs the disciples, “If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town as a testimony against them.” (NIV) If we have carefully and truthfully presented Christ and our message is rejected, we should move on to others God desires to reach. So I ended my discussion and stopped following the thread.
Debating, arguing and responding in kind to those who insult Christianity makes one no different than the non-believer. No insight is gained; no light is shone. Condemning everyone and refusing to listen to what another has to say is not the instruction Jesus gave His disciples. We shouldn’t be people-pleasers, but we shouldn’t be elitists, either. We are to spread the Word, not water seeds of discord.
*The message board was not Hub Pages affiliated.