Living in the city these last 15 years, I’ve watched in silence as public opinion toward Christians has progressively shifted from tolerant, to unsympathetic, to outright discriminatory. I LIVED and BREATHED it too, like one does a heaviness in the room after everyone has just received the same bad news. It lingers and sits with you, like an unwelcome third wheel.
I moved here right after bible school to continue college and remember a specific confidence as I made new friends in the city, all of various religious and philosophical backgrounds as well as sexual orientations, etc. Ever so often I’d meet someone who’d had a bad run with the church, a Christian family member or close friend and I’d feel it- that invisible third wheel. They would tense up or quickly confirm, “Ohhhh. A Christian, huh?” And I’d note the pause, the body language or change in expression. This was a fairly infrequent experience though and often led to a genuine conversation about our separate experiences- good and/or bad with religion.
Now fast forward to 2019. I am blessed to still call myself a Christian, but can also add mother, partner and full time social- media influencer to the bio. I’ve have been blogging on this platform for nearly 6 years now and have been readily sharing my spiritual journey and personal faith in Jesus Christ for the last three.
I would LOVE to share more about my conservative (and fairly unpopular) views and the effects they’ve had on my overall engagement another time; Today’s post is about a specific and recent interaction that will highlight the disproportion public-support of online bullying and discrimination against Christians. And what’s more, the fact that many young Christians don’t seem to know what to do with it. So on with it then. My story begins this last Friday…
On a good day, I’ll wake up and read my bible, a devotional and then spend some time in prayer before getting ready. This is how my Friday began.
From there, my day continued as it normally does; I dropped the girls off at school, before heading to an appointment, then began preparations for my first Instagram post of the day, just before stumbling across half a dozen, startling, stories tags. Somebody had taken screenshots of my page and written bold, disparaging comment across them, ridiculing my Christian beliefs and calling others to withdraw support of both my Lavenda’s Closet account, my Informer Mother account, and Luke’s accounts as well.
I took a few minutes to look through them all, which totaled 6 or 7 screenshots in total, depicting me and Luke as “bigots” and “transphobic”. (These are their exact words.)
They claimed personal offense at Luke’s political views, and offense at my choosing him as a partner, calling others to “stop following this hate” while repeatedly discrediting my Christianity.
My first instinct was to shoot this person a message to let them know that they were surely mistaken- that I would never write or speak a message of hate toward any people group. Ever. It’s never been my disposition to place less value on a fellow human and it’s certainly not what I’ve learned in my studies of the Bible. So I messaged this person and said as much. I did not defend myself, I did not retaliate, but instead, offered my apologies and sympathies.
Their response prevented further conversation. Sometimes people are too angry or perhaps too hurt to enter an honest dialogue. Perhaps that was never their intent in the first place. Who’s to say? And anyhow, as previously mentioned, this is certainly not my first encounter of this kind. I understand that in a way, this persons ill-will is misdirected. While their original intent may have been to protect the rights of those they perceived as wronged, the vehicle from which they throw their stones, is driven by the same means and actions of which they accused me of, including hatred and actionable intolerance. Now, they very likely do not see it this way, feeling justified to use these tactics, due to strong public support against conservative Christian beliefs in general.
I wanted to address this particular interaction for a couple of reasons:
Firstly, because a year or two ago I would not have responded with patience or kindness, and more importantly, because on Friday, I STILL did not want to. It’s difficult to do the right thing, especially if my pride or ego have anything to do with it.
It’s a challenge to be a true Christian, in the way that reflects Christ’s message of faith, hope and love.
In full transparency, I had to take a major pause. I had to pray, chat with a friend, then pray some more. Thankfully God is faithful and he made his voice loud enough for me to hear this:
“ Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9
And secondly, because Christians should understand that it is not only inevitable to experience persecution for sharing one’s faith, but it is a promise expressed in the New Testament over and again, by Jesus himself. Sharing THE WHOLE TRUTH will not make you more likable, it will not make you more popular and it will certainly not gain you the most friends.
I’m not sure that we should ever get too “comfortable” in our faith, to the point that everyone we meet finds us utterly agreeable and tolerable. And by this, I mostly mean to say that Christ called us to speak and walk in truth no matter the political climate, societal norms or current culture. If we find ourselves fully accepted and loved by everyone, then it may be questionable whether we are seeking Gods approval, or approval of those around us.
This brings me to my third and most important point. You MUST SHARE YOUR FAITH and your light with everyone around you. It should be unfiltered, pure and truthful. You must not bow down, even in the subtest of ways, to peer pressure and/or social pressure. The cool thing right now is to simply say, “you have your truth and I have mine.” Which is a complete contradiction to Christ’s message and an oxymoron by definition. If your truth is acknowledged as “fact” as in 1+1=2, then my truth of 1+2=2 cannot also be true. It is in fact, impossible for two “One True Gods” to co-exist. And not only that, but Christ says that we are to consider ourselves blessed “when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely” on his account. He then says, to “go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” Mathew 28:19-20
He doesn’t say to go out and water down his message. He doesn’t instruct us to make no offense, or make sure everyone likes you. He says to make things right as far is it is within your power, while speaking and living the gospel.
We are to remain humble peacemakers and lovers of ALL. But to love on others is not to approve or believe that what they are doing is “right”.
In 2020, I will continue to raise three young girls into this world. They will face people and circumstances very similar to those I shared here today and more. If we see public support for someone like this, to bully, shame and ridicule Christians for simply expressing their beliefs, what will the next generation face? And how do we build them up in love, while arming them with truth for the future?
Personally, I find comfort and relief to every possible question in the word. I plan to raise little warriors who love others fiercely, who stand out as beacons of light with kind hearts and lifestyles that reflect humility, service and pure joy that only God supplies.
“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:10
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35