I couldn’t believe what I saw. Anger gripped me when I read the words written by a Christian in response to a social media post. The individual who made the initial post is not a believer and is lost and wounded. The content of the post that was commented on insinuated that God is not real. Pain, rebellion, a cry for help – maybe even a dare for someone to object, a test to see the measure of a Christian response? What was the tone of the response I read? It was a sarcastic, somewhat belittling response meant to jab and “win” – to get the last word. What on earth was he thinking with that prickly reply? Did he think that putting an unbeliever in his place would aid in this lost soul’s salvation in any way? I was angry and certain that this reply was more egregious than the controversial post seemingly meant to dare anyone to argue with him about whether or not God is real.
Usually the things that bother me (and boy did this bother me for a good couple of days) cause me to think through the situation a hardy while, simmer a little, and then try to see the issue in the same light as God sees it. I suppose if I changed the order a little, I could skip some of the agony of simmering! A lot of times, that examination will lead to personal conviction. That’s exactly what this did. I realized that although I would never use social media to win an argument with an unbeliever (or anyone for that matter!) my own heart can go to a similar place when faced with the foolishness of this world. How many of us get angry in the flesh about Hollywood, politicians, neighbors who hang confederate flags in their front yards (just bothers me!)? Yes, a lot of the philosophies, practices, beliefs, and behavior should be upsetting and I think that we absolutely should be in opposition to evil deceptions, never yielding for the purpose of conforming to this world. But that is entirely different than placing disdain on the human being who is so obviously lost.
It is natural to want to set someone straight and cause them to see things in a godly way, but can we realistically expect anything close to that from someone who doesn’t know Him? When I think about what wins my heart again and again, it’s God’s merciful and patient love given to me freely. It’s His desire to see my heart become more and more like His heart. He sees sin as a danger to us. He loves every single soul and hates all sin because of its destructive power to separate us from Him and all that is good and lasting.
I’m not suggesting we excuse or justify terrible behavior or ever go along with it. We need not stand for evil in any way. But may our responses be carefully thought out and Christ-like. The Bible says that Jesus died for us while we were still in our sin – that is how God demonstrated His love for us (Romans 5:8). He didn’t give us what our sin deserves. He made the first move by giving up His life for us to demonstrate His great love. Couldn’t we make the first move by giving grace to those who are still in their sin?
I think that most of the time we do a good job of giving grace out of immense gratitude for the grace that’s been given to us. But if we pay closer attention to the times we withhold grace, we can begin to recognize places in our hearts that need to be changed and surrendered. Oh, that God’s extravagant grace reflects in us to effectively lead the lost home.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus, for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:4-9