Friday, August 30, 2013

The Dangers of E-Mail

I had an intense e-mail exchange yesterday with someone at Power to Change, which used to be called Campus Crusade for Christ (the Canadian national headquarters are located here in Langley, BC).  Somehow I got on their mailing list.  Every other week or so I get a little advertisement from them which I usually glance at and delete.  But yesterday I got something that riled me up.

Power to Change was advertising a book that is supposed to help Christians create “meaningful” relationships with non-Christians, which “are the foundation for all effective evangelism.”

I should have just deleted it.

But, no, snarkiness got the better of me, and I hit the reply button and asked, “Has it occurred to anyone that to have a hidden agenda while building a "meaningful" relationship is hypocritical?” To my surprise, someone from Power to Change got right back to me with a sincere but sophistic argument trying to demonstrate how developing a “meaningful” relationship with someone for the purpose of evangelism is not necessarily hypocritical because it is for their own good. This only steamed me more--a sure sign that I should have said “Thank you very much. Have a nice day” and unsubscribed from the Power to Change mailing list.

But did I do this? No. I shot back another terse response followed by another syllogism from Power to Change based on assumptions I do not hold, followed by yet another terse response and finally an olive branch from Power to Change suggesting that perhaps we agree on essentials but disagree on tactics.  

By this time I was so upset I was shaking--which is not unusual for me when I am upset (I’m an emotional guy).  Finally I realized that I had to let this go. E-mail with a stranger is not a good forum to discuss religion, especially when there are fundamental differences in your presuppositions. 

I let Power to Change have the last word.

Having thought about this experience for a day and having become peaceful again, I realize (yet again) that spiritual things must be shared by the spiritual. What I mean is that I am guilty of the sin I judged another for. My comments did not come out of love. I was not sincerely asking a question, I was taking a jab.  

Evangelism, or any Christian communication, and probably anything a Christian does or says to anyone must come from a place of peace and love. Snarkiness has no place in the Heavenly Kingdom.  

Neither do hidden agendas.  

May God help us to love everyone. May it be said of us again, “Behold how they love one another.”


Michelle said...

I wish my peace-o-meter worked well enough so I would always know when to shut up.

Fr. Michael said...

I love that: "peace-o-meter." Sometimes it almost feels that way. It feels like I gather a critical mass of miss directed thoughts, feelings and actions, and then I suddenly notice that I've lost my sense of inner peace. At that point, usually, returning to peace trumps any other urgency that may be screaming at me. Experience has taught me that to do otherwise only increases the mass of confusion, or to use a different metaphor, digs me deeper into the mud.

nowhere said...

The rule I always try to apply to myself is: "If you're thinking of saying something, don't!" :-)

Michelle said...

. . . :D