Some time last year I made some comments on social media about the refugee crisis that was (and is still) taking place. Many of these refugees were fleeing from the conflict in Syria. Naturally, I think we should be supporting all refugees who are fleeing war, persecution, famine, etc. I believe to follow in the steps of Jesus involves caring for the vulnerable and this includes refugees whether they are Muslim, Christian, gay or straight.
Shortly after I made these comments, one of the leaders of the church I was part of in the USA, commented how he disagreed with me (I have no problem with people disagreeing with me) and thought that all Muslims were terrorists and that we should not allow them in our countries. Then the tone of his comments started to change. In the next few sentences he said that I should move to Syria with my family and watch my daughter get raped.
At this point, this person started acting like a bully and I had to defriend him on Facebook. Not defriending him because of our disagreements but because he was bullying me and dragged my family into it. When I defriended him, I sent him a message to let him know that I was defriending him and the reasons why I was taking this course of actions. I explained to him while I respect his rights to have his opinions, I will not allow him to treat me or my family like this. In the process of defriending, I explained to him that I was practising healthy boundaries and I will not let him walk over me or my family like that.
I got a reply to my message from this person. He simply wrote, ‘Have fun in Syria! 🙂‘. His reply unfortunately confirmed that I made the right decision.
I have hesitated to share this story until now. I feel sad for this person who has found himself in a place where he thinks it is OK as a Christian to bully others especially those who do not agree with him. A Jesus-focused spirituality, that can be summed up as loving God and loving our neighour as ourselves, is not dependent on whether people agree with us or not but on how well we engage with others especially with those who do not share the same views.
Where our treasure lies is where our hearts can be found. I have noticed over the years that for some Christians, following Jesus is about having the right beliefs. While for other Christians, following Jesus is about being Christlike. It isn’t hard to see which of the two categories Christians generally fall into as we are known by the fruit of our lives.
The world will know we are followers of Jesus by our love for one another. It is puzzling how some people who claim to follow the way of Jesus can pray for revival to come and yet find it OK to bully others who do not share the same views or lifestyle as they do. Revival starts with an encounter with the living Jesus where we find our lives being transformed by his love in our day-to-day living.
Lord have mercy on us. It is only by the grace of God that we will experience the life Jesus promised to each and every one of us, regardless of who we are, regardless where we are at in life and regardless where we are going in life.