Have you fallen into the bad habit of committing Christian Cannibalism?
It’s become an epidemic all over social media. So bad, in fact, that I refuse to even look at my Facebook feed any longer. Every time I turn it back on, my stomach is in knots as I scroll through and read:
Posts condemning those who voted for President Trump
Posts pointing fingers at those who attended the women’s march
Posts accusing those who are pro-life of not doing enough
Posts calling those who don’t support accepting refugees un-Christian
Posts calling those who do support accepting refugees anti-American.
Then we get to celebrities.
Those people we love to worship and love to hate.
Our society has an odd practice of elevating celebrities to unfathomable heights and then celebrating their unavoidable fall from grace. I say “unavoidable” because to the heights from which we elevate them (and make no mistake, it is society that makes a celebrity a star, not the person himself) they will eventually fall, because no person is capable to withstand the level of scrutiny they endure.
It is unjust the way that they are treated.
And one would think that Christians – who are called to take the high road – would be above such bizarre and ferocious behavior, yet 2014 will likely go down in the annals of time as the year when popular Christians names were tarred, feathered and rode out on the rails.
To be clear, I am not a fan of Christian celebrity-ism. Frankly, I believe the Christians should flee the worship of anything and anyone other than Almighty God. However, we are also called to love our brothers and sisters. We are called to be extenders of His grace. And the behavior of the church toward our more well-known brothers and sisters of late has been anything but love and grace.
It’s been cannibalistic!
“If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” 1 John 4:20
To hate means to literally “detest”; which is exactly what is portrayed when we broadcast across social media how a brother or sister in Christ has not met our personal expectations of what it means to be godly enough or holy enough.
May I remind you that these men and women are someone’s pastor or pastor’s wife. They are someone’s son or daughter. They are someone’s father or mother. And this purposeful and blatant smear campaign does not belong in the body of Christ.
We are called to love the body. Which includes: not behaving rudely and not rejoicing in iniquity. Yet, sharing a a negative article written about a well-known Christian, with our own opinion attached to it is just that – rude and rejoicing in iniquity!
True Christian love – Agape love – would silently take the matter to prayer and intercede on their behalf that the Lord would send the appropriate people to lead them to a place of repentance.
Proverbs says: “Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins.”
and “He who covers a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates friends.”
If a brother or sister in your church were to post judgmental Facebook statuses and blog posts about your pastor, he would be labeled divisive. And yet, somehow it is okay for us to do the very same thing with other people’s pastors, because they are celebrities.
Can we not see our own double standard?
The seventh thing the Lord hates, as we see in Proverbs, is “And one who sows discord among brethren.” Earlier in chapter 6 we see that one who sows discord is called a wicked man.
And it is discord – which literally means strife, contention – because it leads needlessly to debates, hateful speech, and drawing of conclusions based on 2nd, 3rd and 4th-hand information.
What is so fascinating about all of this, is that this gossip, discord, and devouring is based almost solely on magazine articles and interviews. We all know that the media likes to twist words and meanings to serve their own purpose.
Sadly, this happens in Christian media as well.
To be honest, hardly a week goes by when a Christian online news source doesn’t post a scandal about some Christian or another – and when they have no juicy gossip to spread, they dredge up an old scandal and rehash that.
Christian news media is nothing more than a gossip rag – and gossip is one of the things the Lord hates!
But these men and women are public figures. They should be held accountable.
Yes, but our response does nothing to resolve the situation. Quite the opposite, in fact. Our response by spreading a negative report about them all over the media – which is viewed by millions of people all around the world – smears the name of Christ and tarnishes the gospel!
Is it any wonder that Hollywood freely blasphemes Christ?
We have blasphemed Him first by routinely and repeatedly engaging in attacks against our fellow Christians.
God has not placed us in a position of authority over them, therefore we are not capable to carry out the proper and biblical manner of confrontation and discipline as outlined in Matthew 18.
What should a Christian’s response be when they hear of a brother or sister’s fall?
We are called to be partakers and extenders of grace. To the degree that we have received grace, we should also extend it.
This means, we need to give these men and women the benefit of the doubt. We must remind ourselves that we do not know them personally, therefore we have no personal knowledge of many things and a personal relationship with them would likely mean our opinion of them would be drastically altered from what it is right now.
2. Purpose not to speak evil of anyone.
We are far to free with our tongues (and fingers) about matters that do not concern us personally or will likely have no bearing on our personal lives.
Paul urged Titus this way:
“Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.”
James further says, “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.”
3. When a brother or sister sins, protect them.
Our typical response when an article shows up in our Facebook timeline is to click “share”, and add our own personal dialogue. Or we “like” (which is ironic, when you think about it) and comment with harsh, condemning words.
What if the body of Christ chose to protect its own?
What if our response as the body of Christ was that of the human body? When the human body is sick or injured, it sends “troops” in to fight the infection and heal the wound.
It is only when the body has a disorder does it send troops to fight the body itself.
The body of Christ has a serious and debilitating disorder. The moment we see a member that is ill or diseased, we launch an attach on the member. We seek to destroy the member. We will leave no stone unturned until that member is done away with.
It is cannibalistic in nature the way we devour our own – enjoying the feast with a bloodthirsty interest.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I implore you to stop this cannibal feast today! Oh yes, the Christian gossip rags have already set their sites on another brother in Christ, another pastor, another man of great influence to the gospel. They will not rest until he is destroyed – much like the others.
I urge you – cease sharing the news. Pray for this pastor and his family who are under vicious attack from the very same people who polished his star only weeks ago.
Remember that as a body, we are in covenant with one another! As David protected Jonathan, with whom he was in covenant – purpose to protect your brother in Christ.
Be the body! Bring health to the body. Bring healing to the body. Love the body.
And let us do as Jesus said:
“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”