Back in the day, when someone walked away from church we called them “backslider.” It was about the worst thing you could call someone within the Evangelical culture. I don’t hear the term often anymore and I’m glad that slur has fallen out of popularity. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean we’ve learned to accept people who no longer hold to our belief system or view their spirituality differently than they once did. We’ve just found other ways to label them.
Recently, I was on the receiving end of some online bullying. Accusations of lying, not wanting to hear “different facts,” hiding behind this blog and—apparently the most egregious—being unwilling to reconcile were thrown at me. All this from someone I haven’t had contact with for well over two years.
Best I can gather from the conversation, if I don’t do what this person thinks I need to do I will eventually be compelled to do it in heaven. According to them Jesus will forcibly reconcile everything including the “Rebel Remnant”—of which I was now part. I’m pretty sure this is a twisted understanding of a scripture passage with the ominous Rebel Remnant tacked on to frighten me. I’m not going to spend time here going into the theology, but a quick internet search returns no references to this sort of thing in the Bible.
My concern is why someone who has never asked me about my departure or checked to see how I was doing or even emailed to say “I miss you” feels the need to berate and harass me, slap a label on me and warn me of my future judgement. Clearly there is no relationship here to reconcile.
Bullying, public shaming and blame shifting do nothing to draw me back. Quite the opposite. All these things do is paint a picture of a person whom I would not want to be around.
It appears a new mindset is necessary. Perhaps we should set aside ego and perceived rightness and see others as valuable human beings loved by the Creator and not problems that need to be fixed.
So, please don’t label me. In the long run what you call me says more about you than me.