Not too long ago, my youngest son brought a blog post to my attention. It was written by a Christian entertainer who wanted to encourage Christians to do as Augustine and Wesley and others have encouraged: to be united in the essentials of our faith, but to show love in all else. This young artist simply wanted to see Christians love each other and get along in spite of different points of view.
Sadly, in offering examples of controversy among Christians, he made some vague statements that led some of his readers to question his personal beliefs. He didn’t actually come right out and say what he, personally, believed or didn’t believe about such things. But some of his readers, misunderstanding or misreading his intent chose to fill in the blanks themselves. Next thing he knew, this artist who had simply asked for peace found himself under attack. It was a great big, ugly mess.
It broke my heart.
This artist wrote one response to defend himself which only brought more painful comments from readers. Since then he has been quiet.
This breaks my heart, too. I fear he’s facing the temptation to build a wall, to hide his gift, to protect himself when he has so much to share with the world. This would be a tragedy.
How amazing could the situation have turned out if those who questioned this young man’s words would have taken the time, first, to try to see his heart, then, if necessary after gentle questioning, to prayerfully respond as Priscilla and Aquila did when Apollos didn’t quite have all of his facts straight? (See Acts 18:24-28.)
Today’s Parachute Prayer comes from this unfortunate situation. Knowing that behind every blog post, tweet, FaceBook update, news headline, and book is a flesh and blood human being created in the image of God, let’s pray fervently for those who come under attack for the words they write—especially for those who come under such attack for simply trying to say something helpful, encouraging, or good. When we see negative comments or hear verbal criticism about something we’ve seen in print or published on the internet, let’s pray both for the heart of the one receiving the criticism and of the one who delivers it. Let’s pray that God will give wisdom to both, that He’ll help the one who receives the negative words to hear anything necessary and to disregard the rest and that He’ll guide anyone tempted to deliver a painful blow to take a step back to prayerfully consider the most Christ-like response. If they’ve already delivered the painful blow, let’s ask God to open their eyes to the wounds they’ve inflicted and lead them to set things right, if possible, and learn a better way for the next time.
People are imperfect, and their words can be messy, jumbled up, and completely misunderstood. Let’s take the time to see the intent behind the words, to clarify what confuses, to show grace and compassion before jumping to judgment, and to correct (when it’s called for) only as Christ would. And when we see angry words appearing in the comments about what we’re reading on our computer screens, let’s always remember to pray.
Father, please help people remember that there are people behind words they see and to respond to those people with love instead of to words indiscriminately. Thank You, Lord. Amen.