Good question. Glad you asked!
I was challenged recently about the tone I sometimes (always?) take in my posts. “Isn’t it a bit sarcastic?” My answer – yes!
My intention in all conversation, whether in person or online, is to accept everyone. However, I don’t believe that requires that I accept their ideas. I respect other people, but I see no basis that I should respect their beliefs. I welcome dialog and conflict. I’m probably kind of twisted that way. But I believe that foolish belief systems deserve to be mocked. I think the church is accepting of too many things. There are countless teachers “tickling ears” (2 Timothy 4:3-4) today, but I can’t recall any times that they have been called out by name in churches I have attended. It seems that the church is afraid of taking them on. I believe not only is it ok, but it is the responsibility of the church to take a stand on such things. Not just a non-descript “stand for Christ”, but also a stand against bad theology, heresy, and abuse of power. I believe that is a large part of the role of a shepherd.
The bible uses many tools to communicate. Not only parables, metaphors, and colloquialisms, but also satire, hyperbole, and even sarcasm. Jesus used all of these widely. Plain-old fact presentation is boring. It’s ok, and sometimes necessary, to rile people up! After all, how do you expose hypocrisy politely? How can you rebuke casually?
The tone I sometimes write in is not intended to recklessly offend. It is intended to get people’s attention. Shining light into dark places is abrupt and shocking. It sometimes takes a few minutes for our eyes to adjust.
Elijah suggested that Baal was asleep, or maybe on the toilet. Yikes! Probably ticked some people off!
Jesus called people “lost sheep”, a “den of thieves”, and a “brood of vipers”. Not endearing terms.
He accused us of having beams in of our eyes, and suggested that we often swallow camels while straining out gnats.
He told us not to give holy things to dogs, and proposed that we gouge our eyes out if necessary.
He was not always a polite speaker.
Most of us don’t heed the civil and well-mannered speed limit signs. It usually takes lights in our mirror to shock us out of our bad habits. We feel defensive when the cop taps on our window not because he is expressing himself improperly, but because he has identified a problem with our belief system. I think it is time that the church have a shock to its system.
I don’t have the spiritual gifts of diplomacy or ecumenism. I like to make people uncomfortable. Comfortable people don’t ask questions. Comfortable people don’t engage. Comfortable people don’t reevaluate themselves. They also don’t study the bible – that is, unless it is to review the verses they have already highlighted. I know this because I am uncomfortable. I have had to continually reassess and restudy things that I thought were settled. At least, I thought they were, back when I was comfortable. I have a feeling I am not alone.
Jesus said he came not to bring peace, but to bring a sword. He said he would divide us from friends and family. Not because he enjoys strife, but because he requires holiness.
I believe there are things worth getting a little riled up about, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to sit on the sidelines and watch them go by.