We don’t have to mean and bully people.
Sounds like a “duh” statement, but if it’s so obvious, why do we keep doing it? As a Christian, quit making the excuse that you’re just standing God’s ground. God has enough authority on His own without you carrying the weight of judging the whole world–or just your neighbor. We can rationalize that we’re simply fighting back, but if we use the same character attacks and passive-aggressiveness that others fight with, what shows that we’re set apart? Are we simply affirming assumptions and stereotypes people already have about Christians being judgmental and narrow-minded? We might claim our motivations are different, but people don’t see motivations. They see actions and words, including what we spew all over social media.
Perhaps we think that if we don’t speak up, we’re affirming the behaviors we know to be against God’s will. But being mean and being affirming are not the only two options. We can listen, ask questions, seek to understand where someone stands and why in order to respect the person as someone created in God’s image, as well as to build rapport that leads to that person listening to us as well. We can return anger and frustration with patience and compassion. We can return disrespect with respect. We can also walk away when engaging with a person is futile, at least for that moment. We can become the exception instead of the stereotypical Christian caricature. We can show selflessness instead of selfishly expressing only our own opinions and facts without patiently investing in others.
It’s not easy to know when to stand up, when to sit down, when to speak up, and when to shut up. It’s a challenge to know when we need to extend abundant, merciful love and when we need to challenge someone with accountability. But God does both of those things. He is loving and He is just. We are made in His image, so I’m confident, in our willingness to follow Him well, He will guide us in His perfect will and timing.