By JONATHAN MCREYNOLDS
Courtesy of liferoomtalk.com
Everybody’s been bullied before, right? I mean, you haven’t lived until a chair is pulled out from under you, someone tries to trip you walking down the hall, or a headlock or pinch makes you say “uncle.” You’re not human until someone tells you how fat or dumb your parents are. In my opinion, however, the most humiliating and annoying trick in a bully’s arsenal is not talking about “yo’ mama.” Nothing demonstrates his power and your weakness more than when he can firmly grab your wrist and make you slap your own face.
“Why are you hitting yourself? Stop hitting yourself! Hahaha…”
It seems like every week, whether it’s national or local, some preacher, some artist, some leader says or does something they perhaps shouldn’t have. Whether it is supporting some Trump craziness, poorly expressing their views on a lifestyle choice, messing around on Periscope or posting something weird on Facebook, it often explodes into a major war of words. Sometimes that war is between the Church and the World that doesn’t ascribe to Christianity but EVERY TIME shots are fired from believer to believer. Every time we start hitting ourselves.
So, with each trending topic, the biggest bully in the universe tries to tighten his grip on the wrist of the American church. And sure enough, with every poorly worded monologue in the pulpit, every emotional Twitter rant, and every endorsement of a political figure with the passion and certainty intentioned only for an endorsement of God himself, thousands of believers ball up their collective fist and hit themselves squarely in the eye.
At this point, the Bully doesn’t even have to attack the Church with his own hands anymore. The Church will call itself stupid, hypocritical, judgmental, and foolish. Then, he can just mockingly whisper, “you’re the Church, why are you hitting yourself?”
I imagine the most fulfilling moment of bullying is when your influence makes your victim hurt himself, selfimplode, self-embarrass.
I observe my Christianheavy Facebook fam weigh in with tons of opinions but very little insight. Their followers and friends shake their heads, suggesting what they would have done with a platform they’ll never have, and how they somehow would have correctly dealt with the warfare that is greater than the warfare currently kicking their butt. It’d be one thing if this were conversation over family dinner, but it’s always a public statement. And unconsciously, some believers join in the chorus against their own body. And while Hollywood, the government and Black Twitter swing at the body of Christ, so does His left hand.
Christ warned us that the World would hate us like it hated Him, but I wish He had prepared us for how much we’d hate ourselves; how we would succumb to societal pressure so much that we would start to look at His bride like society did.
We think we can momentarily separate from the Church so we can tell it how horrible it is. And then when we return to it, we are stuck trying to heal from our own punch. I fear that our keen sense of issues, our meaningful ties to the world and people outside of the Church, and our huge social media platforms are making us genuine, intense, self-hating Christians.
Ok, so let’s work on this. I think first we can put a lot more thought, compassion and discretion in the things we release with our powerful mouths and profile pages.
No longer can we blast each other for likes. Bodies deal with problems internally. We are taught to give grace to the sinner, but we must also learn to give grace to the saint that should be giving grace.
Maybe the Church should learn how to say “dear world, we have identified the problem, and we are dealing with it” and then write that bishop passionate letters, PRAY, and discuss with your community and research biblical answers. There are certainly some tumors in the body – the loveless protests of Westboro Baptist come to mind – but I can assure you a tweet won’t fix them. “This kind can come out only by prayer and fasting.”
Also, remember you are the church! When you personally suck, the Church sucks and when you’re awesome, the church will be too. By writing this article to the Church, I’m literally writing to myself. We must take personal accountability when it comes to the operation and the image of this body.
It’s not their fault, it’s ours.
It’s mine. It’s yours. No matter how well I state things, when push comes to shove, the world will still lump me in with the ones who stated it poorly. (“That body of Christ looks horrible, but that baby toe is gorgeous”… will never be said by anyone.)
Lastly – and this is the hardest – we must rekindle our awe and love for the Kingdom and lose that awe and love for the World. Abuse victims often begin to revere their abusers and somehow, we are finding more value in the exploits and “morals” of the pop artist than the first lady of our own churches.
It’s really easy to hate yourself when your love, your energy, your money, is given to a culture, an industry, an agenda that hates you. Don’t be naïve. In Matthew 7, Jesus predicted there would be many who served in the church but didn’t really love Him, so don’t be surprised that there are individuals in the secular world that love God but still serve an agenda, a movement that hates Him. Our inability to fully shield our hearts from horoscopes, the new rap hit, and our non-believing relatives’ philosophies eventually wears on our ability to embrace the whole Bible and everyone who is a part of our cause. We start seeing things Jay-Z and Ellen’s way.
Catholic, evangelical, black, white, in church three days a week, or in church three days a year, if you claim to follow Christ YOU ARE PART OF THE CHURCH! Your affections for the world cannot coexist peaceably for long with your affection for the church. Haven’t you noticed how often they fight each other? Sorry to break it to you.
The Church will possibly never be uniform in thought, but we must be unified. In unity, there is strength. Prayerfully enough to pry the Bully’s hands off our wrists.
Jonathan McReynolds is an award-winning Christian artist, writer, professor and philanthropist who was dubbed “The Future of Gospel Music” by Kirk Franklin. You can learn more about him by visiting www.jonthanmcreynolds.co m. You may also visit his blog www.liferoomtalk.com for more of his columns and email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments about his writings.