I can’t help but notice many of the fierce comments Christians make over social media. Considering the times, it may be that this is but a human reaction to the difficulty of upholding Christian values today.
Christians may feel suffocated from always being seen as self-righteous. We find it hard to preach the Gospel without being tagged as judgmental people.
The extreme result of this, however, is that we sometimes resort to rude remarks. There is too many to mention everything here. But you don’t need to search very far to see one rude remark coming from someone who professes to be a Christian.
How can others believe our message is they are quickly turned off by the way that we talk and behave?
We may have all the best of intentions, but we must never forget that we could never separate truth from love.
“St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross says to us all: Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks truth! One without the other becomes a destructive lie.” – Pope John Paul II
Love is truth, but love is also gentleness and kindness. Love is also the patience that we show toward those who do not yet share our spiritual beliefs.
“Love is patient, love is kind… it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-6 (NABRE)
Do we expect lost, hurting and exhausted people to live perfect lives and to know immediately what we’re talking about? It is not for them to be charitable towards us, but it is ours to be charitable to them so we can be like Christ.
If you cannot show your love, what kind of Gospel do you carry?
“But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.”– 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 (NRSVCE)
Dan Burke, in his YouTube video for Catholic answers has excellently quoted a phrase we should always remember: “Love builds a bridge over which truth can pass…”
If you want to preach the truth, you must first build a bridge of love. Show people that you care. Give others the benefit of the doubt. Don’t accuse or condemn anyone as though you already knew what’s in their hearts.
It is certainly not easy. We can lose our patience many times. But we have to be stronger than we think we could be. By God’s grace, let us ask for the strength to be gentle to those who need to know God’s love.
“Gentleness can only be expected from the strong.” – Leo Buscaglia
“Every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people.” – Hebrews 5:1-3 (NABRE)
Remember your weaknesses. Never forget that it is only by God’s grace that your life differently.
You may sometimes be tempted to speak like Jesus who pointed out the hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees. But remember that you are not Jesus. You are not God. And you don’t know everything about another person’s life.
For all you know, the one you are talking to is already in despair. Yours is the only voice of hope he or she may hear. But what if instead of hope, all that a person gets to hear is condemnation and humiliation? Will you put out the last remaining light that could draw the person away from total darkness?
Jesus was kind toward those who were frail. He conversed gently with the Samaritan woman at the well. He did not throw a single stone at the woman who committed adultery. Who are we to keep a person from receiving the unfathomable mercy of God?
“Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;”
-Isaiah 42:1-3 (NRSVCE)