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My take: A word to Christians - Be nice
February 9th, 2013
10:00 PM ET

My take: A word to Christians - Be nice

Editor's note: John S. Dickerson is author of the book “The Great Evangelical Recession: 6 Factors that Will Crash the American Church ... and How to Prepare” and senior pastor of Cornerstone in Prescott, Arizona. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter @JohnSDickerson

By John S. Dickerson, Special to CNN

Last week a high-profile American writer and news personality asked me a painful question: “Hey pastor, can a Christian tweet hate?”

It was not a hypothetical question. He was asking because some of his 1.3 million Twitter followers claim to be “Christian,” and some of the meanest, most perverse hate-tweets he receives come from these self-proclaimed Christians.

We’ve all seen folks, Christian and otherwise, lose their cool in a Facebook face-off or in the comment section under a controversial news story. But as I scrolled through the “Christian” hate tweets to this news personality, I was baffled and ashamed by these so-called followers of Christ. One user describes himself not merely as Christian but as “sharing God’s message of Grace with everyone I encounter.” The messenger of Grace recently tweeted that he doesn’t merely hate this news personality, he despises and loathes him.

These are the moments when it’s embarrassing to be a Christian. I’m not embarrassed to believe the extravagant claims of Christianity: that Christ was born to a virgin, died for our sins, physically rose from the grave and is returning to rule the world. But I am embarrassed to be associated with some of the people who claim his name.

I have written in the past about the bad reputation that Christians have in America. Some argue that it comes from misrepresentation by the media. Others argue that “all who live godly will suffer persecution,” and that’s why we Christians have a poor reputation. Maybe there’s some truth to those claims, but we Christians have to acknowledge another reason why we are perceived as hateful: because many of our number are.

More and more, I see hateful Christians chalking up their disrepute to “persecution.” God tells us otherwise. In 1 Peter 4 we’re told, “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed. …” And that’s the truth; sometimes we are insulted for proclaiming the good news of salvation in Christ. But listen to what follows: “If you suffer, however, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.”

The Apostle Peter is more or less saying: If you suffer for sharing the good news of Christ, great, you’re blessed. But if you suffer just because you’re being a criminal or acting like an idiot, then don’t blame it on Christ.

Some 2,000 years ago, Peter knew so-called Christians would be criminals and “meddlers.” He knew some would claim, “Wow, I’m really suffering for Jesus,” when they are really just suffering for being jerks.

The word “meddler” means busybody: someone who inserts himself into matters that are not his own. Might this include some people involved in the Twitter, Facebook and “comments” showdowns of our day?

So yes, “all who live godly will suffer persecution.” But let’s not be jerks, get persecuted and then blame it on Christ. American Christianity, with its past position of cultural superiority, gave birth to some self-righteous and condescending so-called Christians. These folks may be culturally Christian, but they know little of Christ and his actual message of humility and repentance. I am convinced that, if Jesus Christ were here walking among us, he would have nothing to do with those who claim his name and consistently spew hate.

Theologians and academics will argue about that last sentence. Isn’t Jesus “a friend of sinners?” Yes. Doesn’t Jesus’ grace wash away the sins of those who trust in him? Yes. Wouldn’t that include the sin of "hate tweet"? Yes.

In seminaries and churches, we tend to engage in obscure questions about theology. For example, “Is it possible for someone to truly trust Christ and spend their entire life tweeting hate?”

Maybe so. But Jesus didn’t engage in such esoteric abstractions. He taught simple truth with clarity, authority and practicality. On controversial issues—“Are hate tweeters true Christians?”—I find myself drawn to the simple words of Scripture. Theologians will argue and debate, but God’s word is simple and clear.

“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.” (1 John 2:9,11)

“With the tongue we praise our Lord and father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” (James 3:9,10)

“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20)

Jesus put it this way in Matthew 12:34-36: “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.”

If we will give account for every careless word spoken, might we also give account for every careless comment typed or tweeted?

Christians aren’t the only ones hurling hateful blows on the Web. But we are the only ones who claim to follow the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. So let’s be nice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John S. Dickerson.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Uncategorized

soundoff (10,298 Responses)
  1. euktegr

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    November 27, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
  2. Austin

    John 8
    New International Version (NIV)
    8 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

    2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

    But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

    9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

    11 “No one, sir,” she said.

    “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

    July 30, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • Austin

      King James Bible
      For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity.

      July 30, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • laststonecarver

      @Austin,
      What do you suppose was written/drawn on the ground?
      What would be the significance of adding that detail to the story?
      Why wasn't the man brought in by the pharisees, to be stoned, and was that acceptible to the recorder of the incident?

      also:
      For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool – this also is vanity.
      – really? – are you sure? -

      August 14, 2013 at 9:34 am |
  3. Steve Finnell

    IS YOUR NAME WRITTEN IN THE LAMB'S BOOK OF LIFE?

    Who will be allowed to enter the great city, the holy Jerusalem, when time will no longer exist?

    Revelation 21:9-27..... 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city , the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God........27 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.(NKJV)

    That narrows it down. You do not have to speculate about that which defiles. You do not have to wonder what or who causes an abomination or a lie. If your name is not written in the Lamb's Book of Life you are the guilty one.

    Philippians 4:3 And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers whose names are in the Book of Life.(NKJV)

    Whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life? All of those whose sins have been washed away by the blood of the Lamb have their names written in the Book of Life.

    How do men get their sins washed away?
    1. Faith: John 3:16
    2. Repentance: Acts 3:19, Acts 2:38
    3. Confession:Romans 10:9
    4. Water Baptism: Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, 1 Peter 3:21, Ephesians 5:25-27

    Having you name written on the membership role of your local church does not guarantee that your name will be written in the Lamb's Book of Life.

    Your name might be written in the book at the Baptist Church, the Lutheran Church, the Mosque, the Catholic Church, the Temple of Freemasonry, the Methodist church, the Elks Lodge, the Salvation Army, the Mormon Church, the Buddhist Temple, the Community Church, the Christian Church, the Synagogue, etc., however, if your name is not written in the Lamb's Book of Life you will not be allowed into the holy city, the new Jerusalem.

    Revelation 3:1-5......."He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and His angels.(NKJV)

    Yes, your name can be erased from the Book of Like.

    Revelation 13:4-8 So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast.....8 And all who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.(NKJV)

    At the end times all who do not not have their names written in the Book of Life will worship the beast.

    There are men today who worship false gods. There are men, even now, who worship the Pope, the Virgin Mary and other dead saints by praying to them.

    Is your name written in the Lamb's Book of Life? If not, you will not be entering the holy city, the new Jerusalem.

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    July 27, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
  4. Mark

    That ought to shut all those pesky Christians up! The best witness is always to be the worlds biggest doormat. People really respect that and it makes them want to follow in your footsteps and also be the worlds biggest doormats. Plus never defending you positions makes it look like you've really thought thing through and that attacts people as well. And if you can't tell I'm being sarcastic. Christians shouldn't be full of hate, but speaking against the gay agenda, or against an atheist agenda is not hate-speech.

    July 24, 2013 at 12:11 am |
  5. y

    free speech

    July 16, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
  6. Science

    Hey lol??.................where is chad/vic ? (ICR, RCC and the Discovery Insti-tute}

    Chris Christie Blasts Gay Marriage Rulings (VIDEO) ...............your FOX BUDDIES Freddie ?

    The Huffington Post | By Paige Lavender Posted: 06/27/2013 9:21 am EDT | Updated:

    06/27/2013 10:16 am EDT

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/27/chris-christie-gay-marriage_n_3509389.html?utm_hp_ref=daily-brief?utm_source=DailyBrief&utm_campaign=062713&utm_medium=email&utm_content=NewsEntry

    mama k

    Oh I thought I might have heard something substantive. Alas, just the same old bag of wind desperately trying to either side-step or perform ridiculous correlations.

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/06/26/religious-reactions-to-scotus-decisions/comment-page-20/#comments

    June 27, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
  7. Erik Lade

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    June 21, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
  8. Science

    Maybe the dinobird will swoop down and take the ICR ,RCC and the Discovery Insti-tute away.

    Evolution again the Dinobird.............no god(s) needed.

    X-Rays Reveal New Picture of 'Dinobird' Plumage Patterns

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/06/11/pope-francis-gay-lobby-exists-inside-vatican/#comments

    June 11, 2013 —

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130611204530.htm

    Or the action plan will help

    Imagine No Religion 3: Peter Boghossian

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orW1AstN7AI&w=640&h=390]

    June 12, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
  9. Science

    Read some where that Chad/faithy needs a cookie !

    The e word wins all the time creationists ..........no god(s) made US............get over IT

    Make sure to highlight above phrase..............then click on the little blue box and search with Bing.

    Think out side the box and have fun .

    The little blue box has new links today !

    9-18 of 27,000,000 results Any time

    My take: A word to Christians – Be nice – CNN Belief Blog ...

    religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/02/09/my-take-a-word-to-christians-be-nice

    Feb 09, 2013 · ... who have been made in God's likeness. ... are all over it. ... Evolution WINS hands down...time for the horn-y red devil to get the hell out of the way......

    http://www.bing.com/search?q=The+e+word+wins+all+the+time+creationists+..........no+god(s)+made+US............get+over+IT&pc=HPNTDF&src=IE-SearchBox&first=9&FORM=PERE

    Penn & Teller; The Bible is Bullsh-it.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RV46fsmx6E&w=640&h=390]

    June 10, 2013 at 6:17 am |
    • Science

      Martian Clay Contains Chemical Implicated in the Origin of Life, ...........Chad/Austin..........share with the ICR and the RCC.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130610220132.htm

      Meteorites and water. made us aye.

      Oops and that carbon – 14 + (U-Pb).............uranium lead dating Austin.

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/06/06/hear-what-valedictorian-said-for-cheers/#comments

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/01/18/godless-mom-strikes-a-chord-with-parents/comment-page-147/#comment-2409354

      Check out that little blue box

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/06/03/fairway-to-heaven-gods-golfers/#comments

      It is between the ears Chad..................mind games.

      With bones.

      The evolution deal again ...............no god(s) needed .............fossils !

      Bone Tumor in 120,000-Year-Old Neandertal Discovered

      June 7, 2013 — The first-known definitive case of a benign bone tumor has been discovered in the rib of a young Neandertal who lived about 120,000 years ago in what is now present-day Croatia. The bone fragment, which comes from the famous archaeological cave site of Krapina, contains by far the earliest bone tumor ever identified in the archaeological record.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130605190144.htm

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/05/when-christians-become-a-hated-minority/

      June 11, 2013 at 9:47 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.