C is for Christian Charity
Over the past several days I’ve been pondering my own behavior in light of some behavior that I would classify as not being Christian at all. I have to wonder; I have to ask myself, as I am judging another, how far do I fall from the standard? When I am disgusted, angered, or hurt by mockery (whether directed at me or directed at people I care about), I must ask, am I without sin? Can I really cast the first stone?
I’ve been asking myself how often have I failed to act with Christian Charity or Christian love towards my “neighbor.” How many times have I laughed at a joke that was really mocking someone? How many times I have been the one to make or share a joke that really could have hurt someone?
Facebook can be a great way to connect with people. I have a love hate relationship with Facebook. I love that I can keep in touch with loved ones, both family and friends, who live so far away. I can stay connected to friends I care about but our lives move in different circles. I also love how I can make new friends. I have some amazing friends through FB that I hope to meet In-Real-Life someday. They share my faith and I love them like brothers and sisters.
But (you knew there was a but coming right?) Facebook has some serious drawbacks. It is easy to forget that the person we are arguing with is really a human being with real feelings. This person may very well have background issues that have gone unspoken but affect their perspective. It’s easy on FB to get all theoretical and hypothetical. It’s easy to make generalizations. I am guilty of this. I get so caught up in being right or wanting to fix some injustice I perceive on the world wide web and instead I end up not seeing the human. It doesn’t matter if I disagree. It doesn’t matter if I am right or wrong. Humans are made in the image of God and I need to see those words on the screen as coming from a real live human being. Even when I don’t think they act like much of a human. or maybe, just maybe *because* I don’t think they are acting like much of a human.
It’s also easy to slip into meanness, mockery, and the tearing down of human beings and call it “satire” or “parody”. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good bit of satire. I’ve enjoyed many parodies, but after this past week, I’ve had to stop and ask myself, is this mocking a human being? Is this really innocent fun? Am I hurting somebody if I click like on that meme?
What is Christian charity? Well I’d like to define it in very simple terms. Love. Love God and love your neighbor. We are told that they (the world?) will know us by our love. Love in English is a difficult word because it has many layers of meaning. I’m not going to do a word study on love (at least not this week) but love doesn’t just mean mushy gushy feel good. Sure affection can be a part of it but I can love someone and not like them. I can demonstrate Christian charity by showing respect. I can demonstrate Christian charity when I have compassion for my fellow human beings. So am I being a Christian if my behavior does not line up with love? Am I loving my neighbor when I make fun of [insert whatever my “neighbor” does that I don’t like]
I know that I am a hypocrite. I don’t think I realized just how big of a hypocrite I really am. May God have mercy on me a sinner and may I strive to remember that real humans are behind the screen of words.
I came across this quote and I think I need to apply it to my own life, daily:
Has a brother been the occasion of some trial for you and has your resentment led you to hatred? Do not let yourself be overcome by this hatred, but conquer it with love. You will succeed in this by praying to God sincerely for your brother and by accepting his apology; or else by conciliating him with an apology yourself, by regarding yourself as responsible for the trial and by patiently waiting until the cloud has passed.
( St Maximos the Confessor)
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