Woman with puzzled face looking to the side

Accosted

I have questions.

I’ve been scrolling through Twitter way too much since Russia began its offensive in Ukraine. I wanted to stay super on top of things (as if I could do anything about it from here).

What I discovered was that Twitter “experts” are no better than Facebook ones! But because Twitter is not based on relationships, it gives a peek into the thoughts of a wider range of people the world over.

There’s still an algorithm, but it seems to be based more on what tweets you’ve liked in the past rather than what friends, groups, or companies you’ve interacted with.

After a month of scrolling through my Twitter feed and putting it together with modern-day, real-life happenings, these are a few things I want to know.

Why is it that certain folks who call themselves followers of Christ don’t, in fact, follow his example?

For instance:

  • “As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,’ Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him. Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with such scum?’ When Jesus heard this, he said, ‘Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.’ Then he added, ‘Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: “I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.” For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.'” (Matthew 9:9-13 NLT).

Jesus wasn’t afraid to be seen with those beneath the dignity of the religious leaders.

But in our day, it seems that once some folks think they’ve found the Answer, they suddenly know ALL the answers to life and every problem it poses. They are now on a level high above anyone who hasn’t yet discovered the person of Jesus.

Somehow they’ve forgotten the love and mercy that drew them in the first place, and therefore they can’t extend that love or mercy to anyone “beneath” them (you know, “those sinners”). They have forgotten all about the kindness of God (Romans 2:4). They attempt to rescue others through harsh words, judgment and condemnation.

Where has the mercy gone? How does being accosted attract anyone to the Good News?

  • “And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message” (John 13:14-16).

True service requires humility, the opposite of pride (Philippians 2:3). As soon as we think we’re above anyone else that walks this earth, we are in danger (Matthew 23:12).

Why is it that certain folks who call themselves disciples of Christ don’t, in fact, follow his teachings?

For example:

  • “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16).

A great number of Jesus’ harshest words were reserved for the religious leaders, not the regular common people.

Accosting people based on social media posts and bumper stickers is far from harmless. If they have no relationship with Jesus already, it only serves to deepen the divide. Why would anyone want to join what seems at times to be a movement of hate and vitriol?

  • Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5).

Aha! Here we are back at pride again. Once we think we have it all together, we think we can point fingers at everyone who doesn’t reach our imaginary standard. We forget about all the times we ourselves fall short, and at the same time we expect perfection out of everyone else. That is a dangerous place to stand, based on what Jesus said (Matthew 7:2, above)!

  • Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12).

I wonder how folks expect to be treated when they talk down to others with a piously condescending attitude. Do they really want to receive that same treatment? Somehow I think not.

Perhaps the accosting folks nowadays think they’re doing God a favor, just as the Pharisees of Jesus’ day did. But how did Jesus respond to them? “Then he added, ‘Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: “I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices'” (Matthew 9:13).

Is it time for an adjustment?

You and I were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). That image has been deeply marred by sin, but every individual is of inestimable value, and each person we meet carries some good quality that points to our Creator.

Kindness, generosity, creativity, patience, mercy, service; all are aspects of God’s character shining through our messed up lives.

Maybe it’s time we started focusing on the goodness we see in one another, and let the Holy Spirit do his work of conviction. He is more than up to the task!

“And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.”

John 16:8

As we leave the timing and avenue of conviction up to the Spirit, we can join along in a few ways:

Pray. Pray for softened hearts to hear and respond to God’s voice of love and kindness.

Repent. Ask God for forgiveness as well as strength to turn from any harmful attitudes or behaviors we’ve engaged in, such as pride and condemnation. Actively choose thoughts and actions that please Him instead.

Listen. Listen for what God wants us to do and say as we live out our faith in front of others.

Obey. Do what God said to do! It just may be that today we keep quiet and let our actions speak for us. Perhaps tomorrow he will want us to speak up (in love, of course!).

A few verses to finish up today’s thoughts:

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8).

“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2).

“Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world” (1 Peter 2:12).

Thank you for reading through my wrestling today! I am not innocent when it comes to accosting through the keyboard, but having witnessed how it affects recipients and readers alike, I want to continue growing in grace, mercy, and love. Will you join me?


Photo by Munga Thigani on Unsplash

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