|Image credit: Mel B. on Flickr|
One difficulty is that these are people I don't really know. When I have a conflict within a relationship, I have a pretty good idea about how to resolve it. But when I see something that I consider sin in someone I haven't even met, it is much harder. There is no cushion of connection and context to help my stumbling attempts to express myself. I don't know if I should seek them out and try to contact them directly or just speak to the general ideas of what they are saying.
Another difficulty is my own anger. When my brothers and sisters in Christ do things like this, it is hard for me to respond in love. It feels personal, somehow, when we claim to worship the same God. My first response was to want to write a scathing defense. I wanted to return sarcasm for sarcasm, to shred their lies and to ask how on earth they can claim to follow Christ when their posts were full of derision, pride and untruths, and were designed purely to hurt others. I was angry that they were dragging Jesus' name in the mud, and that they were being so hateful to someone I cared about, who had never provoked them in any way.
This was a fresh, personal example. But it isn't an isolated thing, of course. When I hear in the news of cases like Lydia Schatz, who was beaten to death in the name of Jesus by parents who were convinced that spanking with a rod is Biblical, I am outraged. When I hear people flaunt their religion, and then use it to hurt anyone who is not a wealthy, white heterosexual male, I am angry that they despise the people my Lord loves so dearly.
I know that there is a time to speak out strongly. Jesus didn't sugar coat His words about the religious people of His day who heaped condemnation on others. "White-washed sepulchers." Mummy cases. Full of rotten bones on the inside. They try to look good, but beneath the surface, there is death. Hypocrites. The Apostles weren't exactly full of nicey-nice rainbow-flowery-kitties-and-sparkly-ponies comments, either. And of course, if you read the Psalms, you can see that David didn't hold back, at all!
That sounds pretty good to me right now. I can say a heartfelt "Amen!" to verses like that. Yet, even then, I think our motivation must be love. And that is hard. It is hard for me to handle these things with grace. Even after so many years, I still don't always get that whole speaking the truth in love thing. I either want to blast them with truth or I clam up and don't say anything because I don't know how to express it lovingly. Or because I know I that I just don't have enough love to begin with. I need wisdom. I need grace. I need love. I need Jesus.
One of the best things about embracing grace is that I am realizing that it is not just for adults, or just for children, but for everyone. It is a model for all our relationships. Even with fellow bloggers.
I don't have the answers yet. I don't know how I should respond, if at all. I wish I did. Instead, each time I have recalled some of the barbs in their comments, I have prayed. Prayed for grace for myself and for them. Prayed for love to transform and fill us all. I have also prayed for truth to set them free. And I will continue to speak up for "the least of these", and hope that my life, words and actions demonstrate the amazing grace that has been lavished on me.