Feet of clay
In the online communities I (and many of you) have been a part of, there have been numerous discussions about people in the public eye and the good and bad things they have all done.
This is especially true with the bad…unfortunately, years of observation have led me to believe that people will always want to discuss and read about the negative more than the positive.
One thing I fear gets lost in the shuffle far too often is seeing the person or people we criticize as a fellow human being.
Online, it is easy to dehumanize someone and consider them to be:
- a ‘bloginsta’ babbling nonsense from their mother’s basement
- just like the rest of “them” (whomever “they” happen to be)
- not just part of, but the whole of the machine
and that’s just a few of the many categories you can come up with.
We tend to label people by those categories, and, for better or for worse, there is real truth behind those stereotypes.
However, if there are times when those stereotypes hold true, there are times when they don’t. And, always, always, there is a real, live, human being behind each of those categories, made in God’s image, created by God for His own purposes and glory:
- A woman kicked out of her church for standing up to abusive clergy, cut off from friends and family she’s known for decades
- A pastor trying to shepherd his flock in a Godly way, while getting hit with accusations and comments that really should go to his peers
- A man desperately trying to restore his marriage and family after a string of foolish decisions to pursue another man’s wife
- A woman, seemingly on some kind of online crusade, who at the core of her heart is desperately concerned that her kids will grow up in a horrific society
We forget, too often, that the people behind the names on the screen are as human as you and I.
It does not excuse bad, poor, abhorrent behavior.
The temptation is there to see Lamb, even with everything he wrote, as the bad guy with no redeeming values who needs to disappear for good at best and be continually punished for his sins at worst.
That would be overlooking the fact that Lamb is a man, flesh and blood like any other man, who sinned and made mistakes and – after the fact – seems not only to realize it but is fessing up to it.
The temptation is there to damn him as another example of the pastorate gone wild…but the opportunity is there to support him as a brother in Christ and to learn from his past to help prevent the next guy from falling from his own pastorate.
It should help us remember that the wayward pastors, the bitter sheep and every other online category of people you care to label are all people to be loved as Christ loved them, and not ideas to dismiss or fight to the death.