A song from my (much) younger days triggered the musing for this week. The song Easy to be Hard was written for the musical Hair but it became a big hit as a cover for Three Dog Night. The lyrics could have been written last week about the interactions on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms.
How can people be so heartless
How can people be so cruel
Easy to be hard
Easy to be cold.
I could sing those lyrics almost anytime I cruise through the comments section on Twitter. The dialogue is often mean, unforgiving, and disheartening. I get particularly distressed when people of faith descend to that level of discourse. People who have proudly labeled themselves in their bio as followers of Christ use language on social media that once would have made a sailor blush. Regular readers of my musings know I am not a purveyor of guilt in my writings. I am just asking a question. Is this the way we should be communicating as a public follower of Jesus?
One push back I hear is that any words other than taking the Lord’s name in vain are merely words. There is some truth to that. Jesus made it clear that what is in our heart is really the issue. So if you have profanity in your heart you might as well let’er rip. Right? Paul moves from meditation to meddling with these words to the church at Ephesus.
Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. Ephesians 4:29, NLT
That makes it pretty clear for a Christian. Words do matter. Perhaps the biggest issue is how do Christians, who clearly are called to a higher standard, react to an increasingly coarse culture? It is so easy to get angry and caught up in emotional debates when you are being goaded by an unkind person. That last sentence was an example of that thinking. My first description for those who attack on Twitter was not “unkind person”.
Here are some more annoying words from Paul to the Colossians.
Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone. Colossians 4:6, NLT
How do Christians respond to those who oppose them? It is certainly easy and temporarily satisfying to respond in kind. But here is what Jesus said we should do.
“Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. Luke 35-36, NLT
For my fellow followers of Jesus I suggest the following. Set a higher standard but don’t be self-righteous about it. Just live it. Defend your position with intelligent arguments and don’t descend to ugly name calling. Pray for the heart of those who offend you with mean spirited responses. Remember that the battle is the Lord’s and we are called to share His love and the Good News of the Gospel.
Words matter. A lot. So here is one safe word you can always default to.
And love them like Jesus. Then you will truly represent the Father as His grateful child.