Puffed-Up Christians

puffed up

Social Media is exhausting! Most of the time I scroll on by. Every now and then I stop and interject. It’s probably pointless, but I’ll never know. The other day I wasn’t feeling well, so curled up in my recliner with a blanket and that 2nd cup of coffee, I lingered on Facebook a little longer than usual. (Honestly, I should have gotten up and cleaned the toilets. It probably would have been more edifying.) A controversial topic was posted and what followed was rather disheartening. Seriously, do we really think that name-calling and bashing one another is appropriate as professing Christians? Does the bickering back and forth help the cause of Christ? Or, does standing for truth on Facebook make a difference. I’m not being condescending. I seriously want to know. We are called as Christians to speak truth. And even when done in love it sometimes inflames others, hence the “you’re arrogant” remarks. Other times, Christians are truly being arrogant.

Let’s talk about that for a moment.

Have you ever met one of those Christians? A better question…Have you ever been one?

Toward the end of His ministry, Jesus and His disciples were on their way to Jerusalem and wanted to pass through the village of the Samaritans (Luke 9:52-56). However, the Samaritans would not receive Christ. Burned with anger, The Sons of Thunder asked, “Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, even as Elias did?” In other words, just destroy them! How dare they spurn the Living Son of God! How dare they reject Him! They don’t deserve mercy. James and John should have checked their motive behind their “zeal” for God. Knowing their hearts, Jesus rebuked them. “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” Too many times I’ve seen professing Christians with that same arrogant, prideful, puffed-up “zeal”. If I were to be honest, I’d have to admit that I’ve had this same attitude at times.

It’s shameful.

It hurts the church.

It harms the cause of Christ.

But, this isn’t the only type of arrogant, prideful, puffed-up attitude that Christian’s sometimes carry. One particular church struggled with it. The Corinthian church was a mess.  They were rather worldly and known in the community for their divisions. Another known issue that had to be dealt with was the sexual immortality of one member. “It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.” (1Co 5:1-2)

Church, you are puffed-up! You’re prideful. You’re arrogant.

I didn’t use to understand that. How could a church of professing Christians be arrogant about such a grievous sin? What’s there to be prideful about? Were they seriously puffed-up about this situation?

However, I’m starting to understand. The worldlier the churches are becoming along with faster access to information via the internet, it’s becoming clear. It looks like this.

We’re non-judgmental!

Who are we to speak out against their sin?

Everyone sins. At least we’re not hypocritical like some Christians!

And, in their pride and arrogance they proclaim to be tolerant and loving. The truth is that they are so puffed-up that they don’t even mourn over the sin in their brother’s life. The harder truth is that they don’t love him enough to speak hard truth to him. If they truly cared for his soul they would remind him of what God’s word says about adulterers. (And yes, Christians are commanded to make judgments, but that’s another post.)

Christians can be puffed-up with a holy, self-righteous indignation, or they can be puffed-up with a non-judgmental, too-tolerant attitude. Regardless of what end you stand on, extremes are usually dangerous.

By the way, do you think that social media has hindered or enhanced our ability to communicate with one another? Here’s my take.

Leave a comment. I’d like to hear your thoughts.

The “New” Front Porch

My husband’s first church was in a little town in central Arkansas (population 202).  It was a quaint little town, stuck in the 50’s.  We knew all of our neighbors.  People waved as they drove past.  Those walking down the street would stop and talk to you.  We went to Crime Watch and played softball at the park.  I did aerobics at the community center and my husband was on the volunteer fire department.  Everyone in the town knew you and you knew everyone in the town.  People didn’t need an invitation to stop by for a visit.  My family loved living there and living in a “glass house” didn’t bother us.  We wanted our church to know that we were the same in our home as well as outside in the community.  Everyone had a front porch and we would often find them sitting on it.  In fact, my first Ladies Bible study was held on a front porch.  One mid-morning Tuesday a dozen ladies gathered up for a luncheon, sweet tea, and the Word of God.    Living there was a good experience for us.

Today we live in a far different atmosphere.  I do not know my neighbors.  In fact, since we’ve lived in town, we have had a hard time meeting even our next door neighbors.  People are busy.  Garage doors stay closed.  Blinds stay shut.  No one sits on their front porch because no one has a front porch.  Sometimes we hear our neighbors in their backyard, but even that is seldom.  Several months ago we tried to meet our new neighbors who just moved in.  My husband took over a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies to welcome them into our neighborhood.  As it turned out, it was the cleaning people.  They enjoyed the cookies, I’m sure.

It is though people do not want to be known.  “I have my own life.  Leave me alone.  Don’t bother me.”

That is until they get online……..

You see, it’s not that people don’t necessarily want to get to know people.  It’s just that they don’t want to get to know them face to face.  They don’t want to sit on their front porch and visit with a neighbor over a cup of coffee.  That takes too much time.  It’s too much of an investment.  There is a risk associated with it.  It involves real people.

But, the “new” front porch is a different story.  This front porch can be anywhere.  It can be in your bedroom, the car, at work, during church service, at the doctor’s office, or on the playground.  In fact, on those rare occasions when we are actually visiting with someone face to face, we can still be sitting on our own “front porch” interacting with someone entirely different.  This new front porch has many names.  You might recognize it at Facebook, Twitter, Skype, texting, or basically any type of social networking and virtual connections.  It really is a strange phenomenon.  There are people who will not take 3 seconds to look another person in the eyes when greeted.  Yet, these same people will tell the whole world all the happenings of their day.  We know what they ate for breakfast, where their spent their last dollar, what games they play online, what TV shows they are watching, the status of their ingrown toenail, and all their personal problems.  There are people who have 4,000 “friends” online, yet could not name 3 “real” friends who would be there if needed.  They will proudly announce to the world their private sins in the form of a status update, yet would never dream of confessing their faults to the church (James 5:16).

Indeed there is a façade associated with the “new” front porch, but is it more ominous than all of that?  My concern is toward the Christian community.  Has all of this online interaction become a surrogate church of sorts?  Let me explain.  Just today I was reading a post by a young mother who was pouring out her heart and begging for encouragement from others in this certain online group.  My heart immediately went out to her, but not necessarily because she was having family troubles.  I was sad for her because it appeared that she did not have anyone (other than an online Christian group) to talk to.  What a sad commentary for the local church.  Tell me, can someone typing ((hugs)) really replace a friends presence?

Like so much of technology there are pro’s and con’s associated it.  I like Facebook.  I love seeing pictures of my family and friends.  I like being able to seed messages and connect with those I know.  I enjoy being able to send a short text to someone.  It simplifies communicating.  Emails are great.  I would much rather type a letter to a friend than take the time to write one out on paper, it’s faster.  And Skype sure comes in handy when my husband and I travel.  We can still see the children, pray with them, and tell them goodnight “face to face.”  Technology should enhance communication; it should not replace it.

As with all of technology there is a fine line.  Do we embrace it or shut it off?  I think I will invited a friend over for a cup of coffee and sit outside on the deck to discuss it.  Some “real people” interaction sounds nice.  On second thought, I’m too busy for that today.  So, I think I’ll throw this up online.  If you want to sit on my “front porch” for a while leave a comment.