Monday, August 24, 2009

Church Cyber-bullies

A friend stopped me at church yesterday to share her frustration and fear. A bit of second hand information reached the ear of one of the church gossips, and she has decided to give my friend a piece of her mind. In today’s world juicy gossip can be spread among friends and enemies alike in a matter of a few nanoseconds, thanks to email, cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, blogs, etc…. A few words sent out into cyber-space can bring giggles and joy, or they can inflict pain and needless suffering. My friend is experiencing the latter and she is being cyber-bullied by a member of the church family!

According to the Cyberbullying Research Center (yes, there is such a place!) cyber-bullying can be identified as, “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.” Cyber-bullying has grown to epidemic proportions in the United States. You may remember a Missouri mom who was charged with several felonies when her Myspace Internet hoax resulted in the suicide of a 13-year-old girl. The mom was eventually convicted on several misdemeanors, but that doesn’t change the fact that the grown woman is a cyber-bully whose cruelties lead to the death of a child! When a church bully goes after a fellow parishioner, there is rarely any real consequence because everyone encourages grace. More often than not, the innocent victim leaves the church and the bully wins!

A woman who calls herself a “Christian”, has been posting hateful messages to my friend’s Facebook in-box. The Christian has taken a very pious position and is calling my friend names and has even threatened to go the church leaders to let them know “the truth”. I say, “Bring it on”. Many of us have been bullied by the name-calling and rock-throwing of loud church Pharisees. These stone-throwers are very often masters at manipulating scripture to prove their own misguided point, and they confuse their victim by misusing God’s word. In Matthew, chapter 4 we read that Jesus was tempted by Satan. Satan said in verse 6, "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: " 'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.' But Jesus also knew scripture and He wasn’t going to allow Satan to twist God’s word to scare Him into doing something that was outside of God’s will for Him. Verse 7 - Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'

Matthew, chapter 18 gives clear instructions on how to handle knowledge of wrong doing (sin) of a fellow believer. We are to first go to the person privately and express our concerns. Then, if there is no resolution, we take someone with us to bear witness to what is being said. If there is still no resolution, we are to go the church, and if the church can’t resolve things – we wipe their dust from our feet and move on.

My friend is being accused of something that NEVER HAPPENED!! Gossip is a TERRIBLE thing and it eats through people and churches like piranha on a gold fish! So, the gossip wants to “reveal” my friend to the church leaders? Bring it on! If, however, my friend can convince the church piranha to follow the instructions of Matthew, chapter 18, then she will have won a friend and spared others from suffering the same kind of stoning. Get off the pew and put an end to church gossip and spiritual piranhas! Come on people…Get off the pew!

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