Internet Outrage; Or, why we need to refuse to sit in the seat of the scornful.

I haven't been blogging much for the last several months, and there are a few reasons for that. Sure, I've been busy. Between school stuff, interning at my church, and being part of a family whose M.O. resembles pedaling a bicycle downhill fast (we take our share of tumbles, but we get places!), there's always a lot going on. But also, I've felt the need to pull back a little from the blogosphere, to assess what my vision is for this space and for my writing and speaking in general.

There is so much anger on the internet, so much “reactivism,” as I like to call it. You can barely go on Facebook without being caught in the crossfire of Christians taking aim at brothers and sisters who differ on some point of doctrine or practice, and Twitter is worse. It breaks my heart. Galatians 5:14-15 says “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”

Apparently, however, many of us have become more interested in destroying God's beloved (because we consider them doctrinally impure?) than in loving one another in word and deed. And don't give me any of this nonsense about how slanderously vamping on a person's worst idea, over and over and over in a way that calls their character and intentions into question, is in fact loving. You can call hate love, but if what you're doing doesn't fall into line with the protective, hopeful, faith-filled definition of love expressed in 1 Corinthians 13, you may be lying to yourself.

Oh, I know. Plenty of people spew some pretty hateful stuff, and influence others to do so as well. Many people have been hurt, and continue to be hurt, by serious injustices caused by corrupt ideologies. But what is the best way to respond?

There's a place for righteous anger, I suppose. And patient dialogue is absolutely necessary. But here's what I believe, deep down in my marrow. Instead of pointing fingers at one another in blame, we need to be pointing our fingers toward Jesus in hope. Instead of complaining about what is wrong with the world, we need to be working toward kingdom realities. Instead of tearing people down and shaming them for not being more like us, we need to build them up and encourage them to be more like Christ–and we need them to do the same for us.

This is what I want to do in my writing, my speaking, my home, my community, anyplace God has given me influence. And I want to be intentional and strategic about it, not just reacting to whatever is WRONG on the internet that day, but planning how I can best steward my time and resources, including my words, to build up the body of Christ and work for shalom.

So I've been posting a little less, but I hope that in the long term it will lead to me writing even more. I love the conversational aspect of the blogosphere and social media, but sometimes, I need to step back so I can speak out of what God is saying to me, instead of responding to how other people are speaking about God and one another. I want to be like a tree planted by streams of water, yeilding fruit in season. Let's refuse to “sit in the seat of the scornful.”

10 Responses to Internet Outrage; Or, why we need to refuse to sit in the seat of the scornful.

  1. Bev Murrill December 31, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

    Jenny,

    I couldn’t agree more. I have been reading a lot of blogs this year while getting ready to start blogging in earnest myself. While I have agreed in principle with a lot of what is written, and occasionally answered my agreement, for the most part I have felt smeared with the anger that Christians have toward each other…

    There are a lot of Christians I strongly disagree with. Some of them make me angry through their small mindedness and lack of understanding of what truth really is, but attacking them doesn’t help.

    It’s not always easy to disagree agreeably, but the Body of Christ is a huge and diverse group of people and pretty well none of us can agree on everything. My understanding is to forget the people who aggressively want to tell me why I’m wrong, and concentrate of doing what Jesus has commanded me to. I think of that Scripture in Acts where Peter and John were thrown into prison and when they were released they were commanded not to preach anymore. Acts 4:19,20 … The response was that the accusers had to judge for themselves whether it was right in the sight of God that Peter and John should listen to them more than to God, but that Peter and JOhn themselves would continue to tell everyone what God was doing among them.

    In the end, it has to be that way for any disciple. There are a lot of people who want to tell us what God is saying to us as individuals, but in the end, we can only hear for ourselves and do that.

    I salute you for taking this step. I concur fully … and as I begin to blog this year, I intend taking the same course of action.

    Bless you… have your best year yet.

    • Diana Trautwein January 1, 2014 at 11:50 am #

      Yea and Amen, Bev. And Jenny. Thanks so much for these oh-so-wise words, my friend. THIS is what we need much, much more of. I’m right with you.

  2. Anne December 31, 2013 at 6:48 pm #

    Whole-heatedly agree! I’ve been so struck by how the body of Christ is the brunt of should’s and shouldnt’s. We need to love one another. Thank you for this!

  3. Suzanne Burden December 31, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

    One of the reasons I so respect and appreciate your voice and your journey, Jenny!

  4. Kathryn Elliott Stegall January 1, 2014 at 3:33 am #

    Amen, dear Jenny.

    http://www.fullrightsofsons.com/wordpress/2013/11/20/a-method-for-our-message/

    Thanks for your always encouraging words.

  5. Tim January 1, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

    This is a challenging and helpful look at how we use our words on the web, Jen. thanks for making me think today.

    A blessed New Year to you and the family,
    Tim

  6. Susanne January 1, 2014 at 4:58 pm #

    Great post!

  7. Jane January 1, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

    AMEN!

  8. Mandy January 2, 2014 at 9:21 am #

    Wow, talk about sanctimonous. You would do better to simply live what you believe instead of critcizing and calling out others for your (possibly incorrect) perception of their motives and methods.

  9. Patty January 2, 2014 at 11:33 am #

    Thank you for a thoughtful piece. I too have been greatly bothered by much of what is said in blogs and comments. I have been saddened by the quick to judgment, lack of grace and kindness, and the general “spite” in much of the dialogue. We walk our time on earth together with other brothers and sisters and our goal as a community should be to love, care, nurture, support and help each other on our journey. Each of our lives is different and we will come to the table with different understandings, different view points, and even different interpretations of the same words. I am not negating the confrontation of sin or the calling out of sin where appropriate and in a Biblical manner. But very little I see is actual sin in blogs or writings.

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