You know what really bugs me? Well, I mean besides when the pizza guy takes too long to get to my house?
It's those stupid forwards that I get in my e-mail that share some religious story, often kind of sappy or sentimental, and then say something like "If you really believe in God/love Jesus/are a true Christian then you will forward this e-mail to all of your friends."
I don't like them at all. For a couple of reasons.
First, I don't like them because they are based on shame. They are shaming people into forwarding them. What they are telling people is if they don't send them on, then they must not really believe in God or love Jesus or be a Christian. As if their identity as a child of God is somehow dependent on clicking the "forward" link and sending that silly message on to others.
I think we have enough stuff in our lives telling us that we are not good enough, that we are somehow not living up to what we should be. We don't need some silly little chain letter putting its voice in the mix to heap more shame and guilt and "not good enoughs" on us.
And they're lying. Absolutely lying. Because our identity as children of God is in no way determined by our ability or willingness to send an e-mail. In fact, our identity as children of God is in no way determined by anything that we could do, have done, will do, might do or could ever do. It has already been determined by God through Jesus Christ. We are children of God because God loves us. Not because of our abilities or choices or circumstances.
Second, I don't like them because they have got it all wrong. They say that if you love Jesus/believe in God/are a true Christian then you should show it by forwarding that e-mail. I'm sorry, but there are TONS, no MILLIONS of better ways to do that. How about moving away from the computer and actually reaching out and helping someone. Share a smile. Do a good deed. Help a friend. Help a stranger. Serve in a soup kitchen. Volunteer at a food pantry. Shovel your neighbor's sidewalk. Mow their lawn. Donate your money to a worthy cause. I could keep going. The thing is, if we were to create a list of ways to prove that you believe in God/love Jesus/are a true Christian if forwarding an e-mail was even on it, it would most likely be near the bottom. Jesus told us that if we love him that we are to feed his sheep and that whatever we do to the least of these we do to him. Those who are hungry and poor and lonely and sick and broken-hearted and homeless and abused and addicted could probably care less if we sent a sappy little story to all of our friends. They would probably appreciate a friendly smile, a kind word and a helping hand a lot more.
And besides, if you DO forward that e-mail and then go on to share in some gossip, or ignore the needs of your neighbor, it gives people a much clearer idea of what is important to you, anyway.