As Christians, we're supposed to be the light of the world. We're supposed to directly represent our King to this world. We're supposed to think as Christ thinks, and love as He loves, by the power of the Holy Spirit in us. Just look at social media sites on any given day and you'll find all kinds of posts telling you these things.
And then, from the same people, you'll find stuff like this:
The above picture was posted across social media websites this past week by Christians who thought it good humor to mock and laugh at Justin Bieber for his latest trouble with the law. I know, just saying that and you get an onslaught of politically-infused, warped thinking making excuses that if he's out there making a fool of himself publicly, then his audience can laugh along with everyone else.
But I think all of the excuse-making misses the point. Yes, Bieber, like all human beings, must take responsibility for his actions and face the consequences. But since when is someone else's poor behavior open for mockery and ridicule from Christians?
Bieber is a 19-year-old young man who seems to be imploding morally from all the temptations that fame and wealth heap upon a person. Right now, it looks like he's failing at succeeding. What a tragedy that is!
And folks, it is a tragedy, not an opportunity to kick someone when they've fallen.
The first internship I served was as a chaplain for a substance abuse center. My first call came late one night, saying a family asked for me to come in. I was met by weeping parents who begged me to talk with their son. I entered a room where I was greeted by a 19-year-old young man and his girlfriend. He had finally yielded to his parents pleas to go to rehab.
He was an alcoholic.
And he had been on this planet for just 19 years!
There was nothing funny about that encounter. Nothing funny about a family broken by alcoholism. Nothing funny about parents who were terrified they were losing their son to booze. Nothing to mock about the expression of helplessness on the girlfriend's face. And certainly nothing entertaining about the hopelessness expressed by the 19-year-old young man.
I doubt if there is anything funny that can be found in the reality of Bieber's situation either. There's nothing funny about the odd smile he's sporting in his arrest photo. Yet, some Christians tend to think it hilarious enough to share publicly with others.
And it's not just Bieber we laugh at, ridicule, and mock. We do it with other celebrities, politicians, sports figures, and others. I'm not talking about a little satire or humor regarding situations or events, but pointing at specific people and publicly mocking them.
Jesus knows what it feels like to be mocked. He was laughed at, ridiculed, and mocked in public. Of course, at the time He was hanging on a cross, dying a cruel death so that we could be changed into people who don't think, feel, or behave in such a way.
You can't be the light of the world while laughing and jeering at people. You can only be the light of the world by loving people, just as Christ loved us.
"Don't you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don't fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people --- none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God," 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
"You are the light of the world --- like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father," Matthew 5:14-16.