I’ve been incredibly saddened recently to read about the sin and/or alleged sin of two prominent Christian leaders. I’m disappointed to read of the confessions and or accusations posted on Facebook by perhaps well-intentioned Christian friends of mine.
Seriously, Christians. What are you thinking???
I’ve seen comments on such posts which say everything from “this is so sad” to “I hope he faces eternal punishment.”
These posts and the accompanying comments make me thoroughly ashamed of how we treat our fellow believers. And frankly, I don’t think they do anything to bring glory to the name of Christ.
Perhaps what gets me most is the people involved who claim to have followed Matthew 18. This has me particularly puzzled because I don’t read anything about the Internet or Facebook in Matthew 18. What I read in Matthew 18 are ways to deal with sin within the church. Do you hear me? Within the church.
Scripture is clear that you should not take fellow believers to trial in front of a non-believing judge. How much more true is it then that we would not put a fellow believer on trial before millions of uninvolved and unauthoritative Facebook friends? What justice is there in that?
At first, I read many of the articles. Tried to sift through them and figure out what are grains of truth. Then I realized that isn’t my job. Nor was it the job of the people I was hearing the facts from. They were just stirring the pot.
Matthew 18 teaches that if you have something against a brother, you go to them directly. If you are unable to work it out, you take a second witness to them directly. If they don’t repent, you take it to church. Galatians 6 provides additional guidance indicating that the goal should be restoration and it should be handled by “you who are spiritual” and handled “in a spirit of gentleness.” 1 Corinthians 6 teaches that the church should act as the tribunal in disputes among Christians. They hear the evidence. They weigh the facts. They test the credibility of the witness. They reach a conclusion. If they find the accused guilty, they administer the discipline. And there is never a time when the sin is publicized for all the world to make a mockery of the Church and Christians. [I Corinthians 6:5]
But…I’m reminded. These are serious accusations. Partly true in the case at hand. More serious perhaps than the original facts warranted. The inferences and implications cast a shadow much larger than the facts themselves. But, nevertheless, I’ll agree that when you raise a high standard, you’re going to be held to it. So, yes, they are serious.
The more serious the accusation, the more important it is that it is handled biblically. Justly. Quietly.
Not trial by social media.
I even heard one group claim that they had followed Matthew 18 because they tried to confront the accused with the facts before they went public and he wouldn’t agree to their terms. Honestly? That’s less justice than MSNBC gave George W. Bush.
And to top it all—I see Christians getting excited and reposting the report when the story was “finally” picked up by the mainstream media. Like this was some political foray.
After numerous posts, I’m convinced that there are those out there who are convinced that justice isn’t done until everyone knows and is convinced the accused is guilty and the debt has been paid in shame and disgrace.
I thought about in relation to a Christian leader who had repented from sin and posted an article of confession on his website. That took a lot of humility and I have no doubt he had already suffered profoundly. Why would you repost that in your Facebook feed? Are you trying to give your non-Christian friends yet another reason not to believe? I tried and I just can’t think of a single good reason to plaster that on your wall.
Is that how you would want your sin handled? I think of my many, many sins. I think of reading them on my friends’ Facebook pages. As if sin’s own consequences were not painful enough and everyone wanted a turn throwing a stone at me. I can envision every feeble reminder of my merits met with, “Why are you defending her? She’s a sinner!”
Because I am. It’s true.
And so are you.
So if you’re a Christian—and by that I mean you have trusted Christ as your Savior from sin — then the only comment you should have to any of these posts is “this is me.” “But for God’s grace–maybe even despite God’s grace–this is me.”
That’s not to say we shouldn’t deal with sin. We certainly should. And the witnesses to the facts should say something if they see a pattern of unrepentant sin. And the sinners should be dealt with, taken from leadership when needed, and even put out of the church if necessary.
But…don’t put it on Facebook.
Any of you out there without sin can cast the first stone. The rest of us should drop our stones and go deal with our own issues and let the accused deal directly with the Savior. He knows how to handle sinners. He has lots of experience both with repentant and unrepentant. He knew when to forgive and when to chase them out of the church with a whip.
Trust Him. He knows the facts. He sees the heart. He tries the motives. He gives wisdom to those whom He puts in places of authority.
And He doesn’t need Facebook.
Let’s focus our energies on making sure the things we post are not only true, but also that they are right.