Over the past 5 days, I have read a multitude of comments online about a recent event that occurred in one of our fellow churches. I've been extremely hesitant to talk about it... definitely haven't on FB/Twitter, and really didn't want to here. But, after everything that's gone on I felt like I needed to address it, if only for my own sake. (And I'll try to be nice.)While I have no desire to spell out or rehash the details, this news has evoked a myriad of emotions within me- ranging from shock to pity to disgust to overwhelming sadness. I know that others have experienced a similar spectrum of reactions, and while some people feel that Facebook and other forums are appropriate places to sort out their feelings, I don't believe that they are.
When a church or family (in this case, both) faces a difficult situation, the one thing that can always be called appropriate is prayer. Public comments on the whys, whens, and whats of the situation are not changing the situation. Public comments on the handling of the situation are not changing the situation. Should certain questions be asked and changes be made? Absolutely, but rushing off to your social media account and offering up your opinion (whether positive or negative) is not helpful. I could fill this post with negative comments about the situation, because it's a negative situation. But what would that accomplish, exactly?
If you're not part of the problem, or the solution, then back off.
That eliminates about 99% of us. Which is a funny thing, because since Wednesday my news feed has been flooded with comments regarding this, written almost entirely by people who are not part of the problem or solution. The bottom line is this... offer your prayers, your sympathy, and your concern, but then back off. All the "what if's" in the world are not making those who are hurting feel better. Whether you consider a problem (and not just this one, but any similar issue), remember that there are people in pain... not just those who have done wrong (and brought the pain on themselves), but those who have been wronged. Take a moment and think about how you would feel if someone you had admired, loved, and respected (or better yet, was your family member!) had let you down in a huge way. Wouldn't you rather delete your facebook account than log on and read yet another status written by someone who has nothing to do with the situation? We all have opinions, but one misfortune of the world today is that people can share them, even anonymously, with very little thought as to whom they impact.
While many people have responded in what I feel is a Christ-like way, I have read more biting, mean-spirited comments this week than I would care to in a lifetime. Sadly, the worst of these comments were written by those who consider themselves ministers of God. I am in no way condoning or agreeing with wrong-doing, and I wholeheartedly believe that we should legitimately "cry wolf" when these things are brought to light. I'm certainly not suggesting that we overlook the wrong, downplay the wrong, or try to somehow justify the wrong. HOWEVER, jumping in on a grieving family, congregation, and wagging your finger in condemnation while they are experiencing great hurt is WRONG.
BE KIND! I cannot stress this enough. Where is our compassion for those in pain? When did the vulnerability of others become the appropriate time to pounce and offer up every type of hurtful criticism? When did your life become so perfect or you become so very wise that you became the authority on matters that absolutely do not concern you? Criticism, if offered in the right spirit, should always produce a positive action. If your criticism cannot and does not intend to offer help, but rather to offer your opinion, then it probably has no place in conversation. BE KIND! Why can't we put ourselves in others' shoes for two seconds? When other people are reeling from a blow that, like it or not, has truly shaken their faith, why swoop down in your condescending glory and throw in your two cents? Hurting people need constant prayer, not critical probing. Assess the situation and make personal decisions as to how this will affect or change things in your life... but don't think for a minute that you should be making those decisions for others.
Let's be kind. Let's pray, let's lift up the hurting, let's allow them to heal, and let's go on bringing glory to God in every way possible. Other than that... let's just shut up.