Tasting More Like Vinegar Than Salt

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I had an email exchange earlier today with a fellow Christian minister that was eye opening to say the least. I had invited him to participate in an online discussion and he declined the offer based on past negative experiences. I can’t say that I blame him. Many of us have tried dialoging with other Christians online and had similar experiences. You come to a discussion to have an open and honest dialog about a topic or a text and before you know it people are smashing you, bashing you and calling you names. You reply in love and try your best to not buy in to such crummy tactics (although maybe in our worst moments we have done some of those things…hopefully not!) but it doesn’t seem to matter. The other Christians on the message board or facebook, or blog don’t seem to care. They want to defeat you and whatever error they feel you are trying to spread like plague to weak minded people in the church. They proceed to berate you with proof text after proof text until they are convinced they have beat you into submission. They don’t listen to logic. They won’t hear of context. It wouldn’t be right of them to actually wonder if they might be wrong about something or if there is actually another way to look at it.

I don’t know about you but just thinking about those kinds of discussions makes me tired. It also makes me sad. It makes me sad that somehow Christians think they can talk to each other like that. It makes me sad that some people think they “win” if they talk over everyone else, don’t address each other’s questions and concerns and just plain and simple won’t listen to anyone except their own voice. It pains me even more when they won’t listen to the scriptures…especially the ones that might actually seem to contradict the point they are trying to make.

Let us make the decision up front that it is not worth “winning” an argument if it takes disrespecting the other party involved.

Let us remind ourselves that we are dealing with God’s children and that we have to be united and treat each other with love.

Last, let us remember that the world is reading these careless and hurtful words. No wonder many are turned off from Christ because some of his followers taste more like vinegar than they taste like salt.

0 Responses

  1. When I first started blogging, which was about five years ago. This was a real challenge for me. I enjoy a good dialogue where there is disagreement. But I found myself wanting to be right for the sake of being right…all the while I was loosing, even when my position was right. Every once in a while, I find that same temptation creep up when I come accorss some who makes an naive and shallow comment (i.e., they are unaware of all the issues involved, unaware of alternate views which have just as credible reasons as their own, unaware of their own rose-colored glasses, etc…). I find this temptation to react especially when a comment if directed directly at me.

    Any ways… This problem seems to happen on blogs more because it is an open forum (in many ways). Several years ago I participated in a closed on-line discussion regarding the “Christian Affirmation 2005”. That discussion was limited to members of the CoC who either serve as a minister in some capacity or as an educator in one of our learning institutions. The forum had a moderator and some basic ground rules that all participants had to accept in order to participate. Though there was a variety of viewpoints, the experience was great. The interaction was done in a Christian manner and everyone seemed to understand where others were coming from, even when there was no resolution to disagreements. I would participate in a forum like that again.

    Grace and peace,


  2. Some folks just aren’t interested in dialogue. I think part of the key is developing forums with good boundaries that make civil exchange possible. You having a blog — where I’m sure you regulate how people comment — is part of the solution, IMO.

  3. Philip,

    You are right on the money. You do that well on your blog. What is amazing to me about Kingdom Living and the people who read this blog is that out of over 4000 comments I have only deleted one (not counting automatically generated spam). That was only because it was so full of anger and profanity I couldn’t let it remain here. It didn’t add to the conversation and frankly I believed it made the one who wrote the comment look pretty small themselves for doing that.

    I think we have to set the tone. That doesn’t mean we always have to be positive. There are times here on this blog where I challenge some things, critique some things and even criticize but I normally try to at least be somewhat constructive in doing so and find places to praise where they can still be found. I can’t help but think of Adrian Warnock who started a facebook group for those who read his blog called “Friends of Adrian Warnock.” I looked through the group and noticed how positive it was and how people were encouraging each other in the group. I sent Adrian a note and told him that I thought he was wise for calling it “Friends of…” as it really encouraged a positive atmosphere. He messaged me back and said that was his intention from the beginning. So I think we can be creative in this and create positive environments were people can feel free to speak their minds and understand that in doing so they need to be constructive.

  4. These are some great thoughts Matt. We forget so many times that the world is watching. When I was a therapists I would tell the couples that I worked with that winning an argument typically doesn’t result in a win because of the damage you do to the other person in the process. Unfortunately the same is true when we discuss matters regarding our beliefs about God, because for most of us, we consider those beliefs to be the most important things in our life.

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