It is one of the unfortunate burdens of being a church leader that one is frequently exposed to the meanness of other Christians. It’s just a continual sadness to hear story after story of churches, ministers and members who have behaved cruelly and with downright meanness because they believe they are right. These stories are backed up daily by new comments on social media (if one is ever foolish enough to read the comments you’ll see what I mean). Too many Christians have forgotten how to be kind. Our ability to inflict wounds on each other while simultaneously saying we do so in the name of Christ is a stain on Him and on us.
In case there was any doubt about how Christians should behave to others, including those we believe are wrong, here is the apostle Paul in Galatians 5:19-26 :-
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.emphasis added
We just do not get a pass from being kind. It doesn’t matter what the other person has said or done. There is simply no excuse for a Christian from being obedient to the Word of God and the call to be like Christ. When we consider spiritual discipline in churches, it seems to me to be a glaring error if we do not call out our people for behaving like jerks on social media (Facebook, Youtube and Twitter being the most common places for this offence). It should be standard in churches that part of a membership commitment to a church is the expectation to behave kindly both in the home and in public (the internet being a public sphere) and that by failing to do so we bring Christ and His church into disrepute and that is not acceptable.
What difference could we make in the public discussion of, well everything, if we insisted on kindness? But as always we have to set our own house in order.