The Not-Nice Tweet

While I was killing some time in between soccer games this morning (October 6th), the following (re)tweet showed up on my feed:

Jesus didn’t call you to be nice. He called you to be good. There’s a difference. “Holy” and “righteous” aren’t the same as “nice.” @TravelingMead

*20* People had retweeted it.

I sent it to my feed with the comment,

Kind? Tenderhearted? “@TravelingMead: Jesus..called you to be good. There’s a difference. “Holy” and “righteous” aren’t the same as “nice.””

And then, more directly, I replied:

That’s probably one of the most bullshit lines I’ve ever heard about Christianity. Do you write catchy church signs, too?

:D

First of all, I’m pretty sure Pastor Mead’s a godly man. It probably wasn’t entirely fair to him, a complete stranger, for me to treat him this way without at least first offering him a cigar and some bourbon. Over Twitter, he certainly couldn’t see the smile in my eyes or my smirking tongue-in-cheek expression :)

While his tweets were protected (I wasn’t able to find context for the tweet at the time, although his tweets seem to all be public now), he does link his blog to his profile. Check it out.

The problem I had with his tweet is this:

It was written to be some sort of inspirational truth statement to his followers, yet it contains the ridiculous false dichotomy that somehow you can’t be “holy” and “righteous” and “nice” at the same time.

After seeing my not-so-nice (wait, I thought we’re not called to be “nice”?) response,
@DanRevill shot back at me,

@mrsalbrecht I do think the word “nice” is an overused saccharine term. I understand what he’s saying, even if his eloquence could use work.

Eh, kinda. The problem is that when Biblical ideas are packaged into catchy phrases (or modern-day translations), they lose their punch. Paul notes this danger in I Corinthians 1:17-30, “…not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.”

The truth is that we can be sincerely nice even if we are in conflict with someone. This isn’t “saccharine”. In fact, it is a form of acting upon our faith to be nice and to treat a believer caught in sin with love — that is a key to restoring the relationship — even if our heart is still hurting and we don’t feel like it.

Not only does Paul tells Euodia and Syntyche to knock it off, he encourages them to behave civilly toward one another for the sake of their church. Their feud was so bad, God allowed it to be recorded for posterity’s sake, and to be a lesson to us. Paul reminds them of their faith and urges them to be nice, even with nitty-gritty instructions on how to think and treat each other. Certainly it was a struggle for them! When we purposefully think and say the best of people and are gentle even when we don’t feel like it, peace is the result…or, at least, it can seriously take power and focus away from the conflict.

Phillippians 4:2-9 “I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Admittedly, it is of great irritation to me when Christians flippantly decide to “cut people off” as if it’s some righteous thing to stop associating with people who cause them “stress”. (Jesus dined with tax collectors and sinners (see Luke 5:27-32) — yet how many Christians do you know refuse to attend family holiday parties because someone offended them in the past? This isn’t being “good” – avoiding a potential conflict – this is being bitter!) There is a hint of this in Mead’s tweet — because of the false dichotomy. How different would it be if people actually followed Matthew 18, with the goal of RESTORATION to relationships? How different would it be if, instead of the goal of trying to get rid of people by excommunication we took it to the next step and, in treating them as an unbeliever, would pray for them and minister to them?

Peacemaker Ministries, in their foundational principles resource, The Four G’s notes that some people are unreasonable, but that we still need to treat them with LOVE.

Be Prepared for Unreasonable People

Whenever you are responding to conflict, you need to realize that other people may harden their hearts and refuse to be reconciled to you. There are two ways you can prepare for this possibility.

First, remember that God does not measure success in terms of results but in terms of faithful obedience. He knows that you cannot force other people to act in a certain way. Therefore he will not hold you responsible for their actions or for the ultimate outcome of a conflict.

All God expects of you is to obey his revealed will as faithfully as possible (see Rom. 12:18). If you do that, no matter how the conflict turns out, you can walk away with a clear conscience before God, knowing that his appraisal is, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Second, resolve that you will not give up on finding a biblical solution. If a dispute is not easily resolved, you may be tempted to say, “Well, I tried all the biblical principles I know, and they just didn’t work. It looks like I’ll have to handle this another way (meaning, ‘the world’s way’).”

A Christian should never close the Bible. When you try to resolve a conflict but do not see the results you desire, you should seek God even more earnestly through prayer, the study of his Word, and the counsel of his church. As you do so, it is essential to keep your focus on Christ and all that he has already done for you (see Col. 3:1-4). It is also helpful to follow five principles for overcoming evil, which are described in Romans 12:14-21 :

  • Control your tongue (“Bless those who curse you;” see also Ephesians 4:29)
  • Seek godly advisors (identify with others and do not become isolated)
  • Keep doing what is right (see 1 Peter 2:12-15; 1 Peter 3:15-16)
  • Recognize your limits (instead of retaliating, stay within proper biblical channels)
  • Use the ultimate weapon: deliberate, focused love (see also John 3:16; Luke 6:27-31)
  • At the very least, these steps will protect you from being consumed by the acid of your own bitterness and resentment if others continue to oppose you. And in some cases, God may eventually use such actions to bring another person to repentance (see 1 Sam. 24:1-22).

    Even if other people persist in doing wrong, you can continue to trust that God is in control and will deal with them in his time (see Psalm 10 and Psalm 37). This kind of patience in the face of suffering is commended by God (see 1 Pet. 2:19) and ultimately results in our good and his glory.

    So… there it is. Took me long enough to have a moment to respond!

    I am curious to know what Mead was thinking when he wrote his tweet, and how it was that he came to this supposedly biblical conclusion, beyond being catchy and trying to make a point by use of semantics, that we’re not called to be “nice”.

    Whether or not he responds, it was therapeutic for me to write this :)

    And, in replying to a pastor who posts fart tweets, I don’t feel bad about my use of the word “bullshit”. I think he can handle it :P

    Reading: The Supper of the Lamb

    “The graces of the world are the looks of a woman in love; without the woman they could not be there at all; but without her love, they would not quicken into loveliness.” – Robert Farrar Capon, PAGE 4 of The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection

    (Only page four! What goodness is yet to come? )

    The book began with a lamb dinner recipe including the ingredients+notes:

    “Soy Sauce (domestic only in desperation)” and “Sherry (if you have any left)”

    May I kiss this cook? Would he want to kiss me and/or eat my pancakes?

    I’ve not been so twitterpated over food writing since How to Cook a Wolf.

    Supper of the Lamb was recommended by @BekaAJohnson. Follow her, already!

    “I am Assassin’s Creed II” said Leah, over Pork Mango Picadillo.

    If you ask Leah what she wants to be when she grows up, she’ll still tell you she wants to be an assassin.

    Recently, on the xBox360, Tom and the boys have been playing Assassin’s Creed II.In it, Ezio, the assassin, has a poisoned blade he uses to poke targets. They die moments later, after he is long gone.

    While I was making Elise Bauer’s Pork Mango Picadillo this evening, Leah snuck up on me and pricked me with her homemade poisoned blade, fashioned by Aiden out of masking tape and a chopstick. “Tsss!” she hissed, and then ran into the other room announcing, “Hey guys, I poisoned mom and she will be dying soon!”

    To which, I screamed, grasping at my throat and falling to the floor, “HEY! Who is going to cook for you… aaaaaaaaaahhh!!! I’m dying!!!!!”

    Apparently the promise of not killing me only applied to being mauled to death by tigers.

    If it wasn’t for her bringing me back to life with her kisses, I’d still be dead and you wouldn’t be reading this. (Nope. Still dead. See? I can only open one eye!)

    As she sat at my table eating her scrumptious dinner, poison blade still attached, she declared, “”Mom, the aliens in Mars Attacks said (alien voice and all) “‘We come in peace, we come in peace.’ But, they KILLED everyone so they’re LIARS!”

    She’ll be different, of course.

    She will only tell the truth as she kills people.

    “I am Assassin’s Creed II,” Leah said, non-nonchalantly pointing to her contraption with her fork, as if I hadn’t noticed or remembered what it felt like to be poisoned.

    “Even assassins need to eat their dinner,” I said as seriously as possible, hoping she didn’t notice me snickering into my armpit! I didn’t have to remind her twice, though. It was gone.

    She wanted seconds.

    So, I’ve eaten two plates of Pork Mango Picadillo… um… and a few bites right from the pot. Make this and you may just have some interesting dinner conversation, like we did. Then, stop over to Simply Recipes and tell Elise how amazing she is! You can also follow her (personal tweets) on Twitter @simplyrecipes and again at @recipeupdates (recipe feed).

    .

    Format for Twitter Links

    John Audubon - Common Blue Bird (sic)

    This is how I tweet links on Twitter :

    http://bit.ly Title | @mrsalbrecht

    I chose this format for tweeting links because it conveys the necessary information in a clean, minimalistic way.

    Because Twitter highlights links in blue, the eyes skip the link and focus on the title.

    Follow me — and let me know if you’d like for me to follow you back!

    Quote: Roger Ebert’s Tweet on Breasts

    Gustav Klimt : The Three Ages of Woman (detail)

    “Am I odd? Cleavage doesn’t awaken my feelings of lust, but those of the hope to be comforted. Cleavage. It speaks to us from the time before memory of love, comfort, warmth, softness and food. Cleavage. Oh yes. Cleavage.” – Roger Ebert, via Twitter. (Tweet #1) (Tweet #2)

    This is a beautiful quote describing the nurturing aspect of breasts! (Did you know the word nurture and nursing have the same Latin root, nutritus?) I’m making a note of this quote for the next time I teach on breastfeeding during my Bradley Method natural childbirth classes.

    Reminds me of the feeling of peace and comfort captured in Isaiah 66:11-13 :

    For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing abundance. For this is what the LORD says:

    “I will extend peace to her like a river,
    and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream;
    you will nurse and be carried on her arm
    and dandled on her knees.

    As a mother comforts her child,
    so will I comfort you;
    and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”

    As we see here, the Creator even uses breasts in an analogy, demonstrating that He knows and cares how we humans think, feel and function, and that such wording would resonates within us with understanding. I can’t even think of a clearer metaphor, can you?

    God made breasts. God made the warm fuzzy feelings of both desire and comfort that humans naturally associate with breasts. He made these feelings work together to form a loving bond – between mothers and babies, and between husbands and wives.

    Praise Him!

    As Christians, let’s not be embarrassed to tastefully mention breasts, m’kay?

    By the way, Klimt is one of my favorite painters. A large print of Mother and Child (detail from The Three Ages of Woman), used to hang in my living room back home, just above the rocking chair where I would often sit and nurse my babies.

    (HT to @clergygir1, my Twitter friend Jen, who is a breast cancer survivor, for ReTweeting this! Please check out her encouragement-filled blog, Clergygirl : Waving a flashlight through the murkiness of life.)

    Welcome, New Friends!

    Two blogs I love are sending traffic my way this week! Please stop by these Internet gems, both with long-time spots on my blogroll, and say konnichiwa:

    The Flourishing Mother : This week, I’m being featured for Andrea’s Momma Monday column! Last March, I quoted from Andrea’s Post, “I Made a Meal for Jesus,” which challenged me to think of Jesus as a friend and to do things, like making dinner, as if was doing them directly for Him. It was life-changing for me.

    Feminia: Nancy Wilson, who has written of some of my favorite books, coauthors a delightful blog with the ladies in her family. Recently, she invited readers to post their blogs for a Tour the Readers’ Blogs Party… so I did! There are many great bloggers who responded to her post. How about you add yours?

    You’re also invited to check out my Welcome! page as well as send me an email to introduce yourself. Please let me know how I can best pray for and/or be of encouragement to you. If you have them, please let me know your Twitter handle and blog URL so I can check out your corner of the Web.

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    Photo credit: chez_sugi via Flickr