Alan Cross blogs at Downshore Drift.
Christians who use Facebook to complain about people instead of confronting according to Matthew 18:15-35 are in error. Passive-aggresiveness is their forte. I see it all the time. Veiled complaints and accusations against people. General complaints about the church and being hurt and people treating you wrong and sinning against you. Yet, you do not speak directly to the people who hurt you. You just lash out at everyone and throw a blanket of blame, victimhood, and condemnation among everyone who scrolls down their newsfeed. We might pray for you or we might just move on and look for cute kitten pictures. Either way, your hurt/pain did not receive the attention and dignity and chance for healing that it deserved. You cheapened yourself and the rest of us along with you.
This is how it works: Someone who is obviously hurt makes some kind of general remark accusing or complaining about someone or some situation. It is obvious that they are talking about something specific, but no one knows what, exactly. There is no possibility for peace or reconciliation or for anyone to try and make things right. People reading the post wonder who is being talked about and some wonder if, perhaps, they are the ones being targeted. Speculation abounds. But, nothing can be said because to assume that the post is about you is considered vain and self-centered (Carly Simon would agree). To wonder who it is about if you know it could not be about you might fall into vain imaginings or gossip-induced speculation. Unless you are close to the person, you cannot ask. If you do, they will often say that they are just speaking generally or that they do not want to say because they don’t want to say someone’s name. But, they are hurt and they don’t want to deal with it biblically. So, they let the world know and no one can do a thing about it. Every once in a while, someone will confront the person on Facebook for this, but that is an awkward enterprise, to be sure, and one rife with pitfalls.
What is left is a pile of rubbish. It stinks. It spreads negativity. It spreads hurt. Pity is given and received and those who are hurt gather together and say how they understand, but the grace of God is not accessed. What makes it worse is when we dress it up with religious words and lingo and try to sound spiritual and forgiving and “above it all” so we can now talk about it on Facebook/Twitter. It is akin to sharing the prayer request in the prayer meeting about someone and their sin that is actually just a religious way of gossiping.
God gives us a means of grace about how to deal with someone when they sin against us or hurt us. Go to them and show them their fault. Talk to them. Give them a chance to hear you. Give them a chance to respond. Forgive. Seventy times seven. Maybe God will work on their heart. Maybe He will work on your heart. Maybe they had no idea they were hurting you and they would do whatever they could to make it right. Maybe you are wrong and you cannot see it. If the conflict cannot be resolved, get some others together and talk about it with the person. Maybe reconciliation will happen. Maybe you will be able to see what you could have done better. But, don’t give up. Fight for realized unity. Lay down your life to love enough to actually talk to someone. Or, if you don’t think you should do that – if there is no way to do that – then ask for prayer and give it to God and forgive the person as Christ forgave you and move on. Forgive anyway.
None of this involves general accusations and complaints on Facebook or Twitter or other social media venues. None of it. Don’t cheapen yourself. Don’t try to get people to feel sorry for you. Man up and do the Biblical thing of actually speaking to someone about what you are upset about or ask God for the grace to let it go. Please.
Facebook is not the place to air your dirty laundry or to throw out general accusations against other people or the Body of Christ. There is a means of grace available to you in confronting the person. Or, ask God for grace to forgive and let it go and move on. Passive-aggressive complaining and asking for pity on a social network by generally saying how hurt you are by people that you do not name (nor should you – ever in that kind of setting) is beneath you as a child of God.
You are worth more than that. So is the person that you are upset with.
And, one more thing. If you think I am talking about you, I am not. I am just speaking generally.