Sunday, July 15, 2007

More Than Just Words

I have been a Christian since I was 18-years-old and I am still amazed at how the so-called followers of the Prince of Peace can blast away at each other in the cause of self-righteousness. There is an old children's rhyme that goes, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." Rubbish. Of course, words hurt. That's why people use them in this fashion.

Most of our readers, friends and supporters are wonderful, kind, and thoughtful people. They do not always agree with us and often express their concerns graciously and intelligently. I, personally, have learned a lot from such folks in the years that I have been a part of The Voice of the Martyrs. I am grateful to God for their role in sharpening my focus and skills, as well as those of my co-workers.

From time to time, however, we receive a particularly unpleasant letter and email; correspondence laced with false accusations, sometimes dripping in hatred, and always demanding in tone. Sometimes the criticisms are entirely valid and the critic is right in what he/she is saying. How it is said, however, it makes it so much harder to accept than it might have been, had they written less caustically.

I wish it were otherwise but we are not the only ones who are on the receiving end of such blasts, even if well-meaning. From what I understand from other Christian leaders of churches and mission organizations, the problem seems endemic. An increasing number of their supporters or congregants seem to feel little need to hold back in expressing their discontent with the service they receive or their disagreement with something said. Political leaders, too, have frequently noted that often the most bombastic, hateful, thoughtless and poorly researched letters come from those who call themselves born-again Christians. Is it any wonder that they don't take our concerns seriously on Parliament Hill?

I have nothing against strongly held and even strongly stated opinions. And I say this not in an attempt to stifle feedback from our friends and supporters. By no means! We welcome both compliments and criticism as we seek to continue to glorify God by being Canada's effective and reliable source of information and support of persecuted Christians around the world.

No, what I yearn to see is a greater degree of grace being evident in the words (spoken or written) of those who are temples of the Holy Spirit; an understanding that they are communicating with someone who is the image of God and that disrespect shown to any human being is disrespect shown to the Creator, Himself (James 3:9). The apostle James asks, "Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water." These words are reminiscent of those spoken by his Brother years earlier to a group of religious folks who seemed to think that they could say pretty much whatever they wanted to; "You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matthew 12:34-37).

1 comment:

Derek Miedema said...

Amen and amen to that. I feel very strongly that Christians need to speak the truth in love. This doesn't mean softening our views necessarily, but how we express them. The aftertaste, if you will, of a letter from a Christian should always be a sense that the writer wants something better for the recipient, not worse. We're called, not to kick at the darkness, but to be light. Any vile hatred from Christians gives Christ himself a bad name.