When I was growing up, the Disney movie, Bambi, was a favorite of mine to watch….still is to this day! My favorite character is Thumper! And quite honestly, my mother spoke his profound comment numerous times throughout my upbringing: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” While I try my best not to get caught up in controversial matters that simply distract us from being about our purpose, I felt compelled to suggest something that Christians need to consider:
Christians ruin the reputation of Christ
when they don't take Thumper’s advice.
Some Christians, in their attempts to “stand up for what is right”, have taken to social media with the fervor of a devourer. Filled with criticism, condemnation, and self-righteousness that borderlines arrogance, it is often an embarrassment to our faith. It feels so much more Pharisaical than Christian.
I could give several examples to support my statement, but I would rather encourage us (Christians) to be very careful about our response to other denominations and Christian leaders. When we hear of a preacher or church that has said something or is doing something that either we don't understand, or may even disagree with, it is imperative that we do our homework and not simply believe everything we hear. If we have learned anything through this election and COVID, we can ALL attest to the twisting and lying that is occurring in and through the media! We certainly cannot believe everything we hear on the news, and ought to have that same attitude when it comes to other churches and church leaders.
Be very careful! You are treading on very thin ice when you believe something is true without doing your own homework. Even more so, when you label the called of God a false teacher/prophet. God doesn't take it lightly when His appointed leaders are disparaged.
1 John 4:1-6 tells us to test the spirits to see if they are from God, and describes a false prophet as "one that does not acknowledge that Jesus came in the flesh from God". Matthew 7:15-20 tells us to look at their fruit and search for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc.
So, a line in a lyric of a song or a comment made in a sermon (many times that someone trimmed and didn't play in full context), does not mean that everything coming from that church or speaker should be shut down, rejected, and verbally attacked from both the pulpit or in other public arenas, including social media. We would be enraged if we found out that people in our military purposely killed one of their own. And yet, Christians, called to be an army of one, are doing it very publically on a daily basis. This must not be.
In addition, to pass on negative information that has not been personally observed, studied and discovered, is to gossip. Ecclesiastes 10:20 says this, "Don't bad-mouth your leaders, not even under your breath...loose talk has a way of getting picked up and spread around." Once you have studied it for yourself and know that the information is accurate, then, you can choose to disassociate; then, you can move on without verbally undressing and maligning the church or church leader with judgement, condemnation and argument.
James 1:26 says that if we consider ourselves religious and yet don't keep our tongue under control, that our religion is worthless. Truly, when we don't take Thumper's advice we ruin the reputation of Christ.
Would you consider another perspective with me? What if this church or church leader's preaching caused someone to be introduced to Jesus, and caused them to go out and buy a Bible to discover Him for themselves? And what if they asked Christ to come into their life and change them into the person He created them to be, as a result?
God can use anything when the heart is right.
He used a donkey to speak to Balaam. (Yep, this happened long before Shrek! "and in the morning, I'm making waffles!")
And look how Jesus responded to His disciples in Mark 9:38-39:
“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in Your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”
“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in My name can in the next moment say anything bad about Me, for whoever is not against us is for us.”
So can I challenge us to be careful with the raising of our fists and argumentative stances in a public arena like social media, and just be thankful that there are pastors, preachers, and teachers who really do care and want to share the Word of truth, even if sometimes we disagree or don't understand their methods? Can we stop giving Christianity a bad name by being so negative and critical? And can we reinstate Thumper’s Christlike statement and start only saying kind things, especially on the Internet?
May I encourage us all today to begin to invite the Holy Spirit to help us put a guard on our tongue, and fill our mouths with kind, loving, and uplifting things. And may we as a Christian community, have each other's backs, not shooting our own .