Madaline was just like all the other girls on my daughter’s volleyball team. Gangly and goofy they were some of the least likely volleyball players in their Junior High league but they knew how to have fun. Eventually they would go on to High School together where Madaline remained the sweet quiet girl with a huge smile and thoughtful eyes. The two girls drifted apart after volleyball but remained friendly as their all girl High School was like one big sorority. Hannah called me horrified when she learned that Madaline had died in the county jail under heartbreaking circumstances.
As I read the article I was saddened by the loss of this precious young woman full of potential. However, I was shocked and hurt by the cruel and callous comments “shared” amidst the prayers and condolences. Why is it that “those people” feel that they have a right to be hateful, cruel and opinionated on Facebook and in Chat Rooms in a way that is so publicly hurtful? Is it easier to be mean when you are typing and not looking someone in the face? Where is common sense? Didn’t their Moms and Grandmas teach them that, “If you don’t have something nice to say…don’t say anything?”
It reminded me of how many of my fellow Christians love to champion their causes in argumentative and self righteous ways. I was way up on my high horse when the Lord reminded me of an event not so long ago in my own journey on the internet.
I found myself in an epic Facebook war with my Brother In-law because he took issue with a political statement that I had posted. He made a snide comment back and as they say, “game on!” Back and forth we went with people taking sides and my poor sister in the middle. To make matters worse, my sister and her husband are not yet Jesus people and my behavior was certainly not going to help them draw closer to Him. I assure you I was completely justified, I mean he really needed a lesson in what was truly right! I found that I could “share” things that had bugged me for years but would never say if he’d been sitting across the table from me. As I sat writing my scathing replies, my head was screaming STOP! SHUT UP!! Maybe Holy Spirit was trying to break into my tirade with reason and the love of Christ?
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21 In other words, what comes out of our mouth can either encourage and bless or cut down and destroy. As believers we often forget that although Jesus gave Himself to die for our sins accused of things He never did, Jesus did not justify or defend Himself. Why is it so important for us to be right when the one who was most “right” just took it on the chin?
We can choose to be love and shine His light on the world or we can choose to be self- righteous and pick up others’ offenses. As believers in Jesus we need to be God’s voice on the internet. Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. Luke 6:27-28
I pray that we will all be more thoughtful in our posting and responses, asking what Jesus would say if He were posting. If you have a political opinion that you know might be hurtful to someone else, you can just talk about it with your friends instead of posting it for all to see. If you have something other than love that you want to share with Madaline’s parents, keep it to yourself. STOP! SHUT UP!! Determine that you will be the one to follow Jesus and lay down being “right” for love. You have the power to bring hope into Facebook, joy onto the internet and love to those who only have “friends” in a virtual world.
Please pray for Madaline’s parents and brother. Her story can be found at The Oregonian Live.