In the aftermath of the Civil War, there were some in the south who felt powerless because they had lost and their desired way of life was no longer available to them (i.e. owning slaves and getting to act like the GOD over those slaves). When they lost that, they resorted to going out at night, hiding their identity with white hoods and sheets, and trying to bully the ones they used to be able to intimidate as slaves. They started intimidating and bullying their own neighbors when the neighbor did something to irk them. And people never talked about those things because you never knew who was, or wasn’t, a member of the Ku Klux Klan organization. They just kept the town secrets to themselves for fear that they would be the next one on the receiving end of the intimidation.
Nowadays, as far as I know, it’s not the KKK that does the bullying. Even in the church, there are the “anonymous” letter writers who hide their identity in order to bully others. And most of the time, the letter recipient is so devastated that they never tell others and so nothing ever changes. And the church of Jesus loses another person that Christ himself died for.
A friend of mine recently got two anonymous letters telling her what to do and what not to do, even going as far as telling my friend she could no longer attend her church. The authors of these letters apparently are ticked off about something that happened (or didn’t happen) and feel they “just have to” take action to set things right. And so they hid their identity by calling themselves a “Concerned Parish member” and a “regular [church] attendee.”
As a pastor, I’ve received my share of anonymous letters. And they’re worthless! There’s a reason that newspapers specify that they will not print letters to the editor that aren’t signed. Because if there is something important that needs to happen, people will own up to the idea or the critique and help DO SOMETHING about whatever problem there is. Those who are just ticked off because they don’t get their own way, and know they’d be wrong if they openly confronted someone about their concern, try to be anonymous. Folks, if your beef isn’t worth YOUR name and YOUR time being associated with it, then it’s not worth our time and attention either.
JESUS taught us, in Matthew 18:15-17, that if we have a problem with someone else WE are to GO TO that person that offended or hurt us… alone and in person. That way, you can hopefully get things worked out and a friendship is maintained. If that person doesn’t respond by making things right, then you get a couple of other people to go with you next time. In my religious tradition, that quite often is either the pastor or the Staff-Parish Relations Committee (SPRC). If the person STILL doesn’t make things right, then you treat her or him like you would a common sinner.
HOWEVER, if YOU remember that YOU are the one who has hurt someone else by your words or your actions, then Jesus explained in Matthew 5: 23-24 that it is up to you to go approach the one you hurt to try to make things right. That doesn’t mean they forgive you (some will, some won’t), but you must do your best to make it right if you want God to bless what you do.
As Christians, we ARE in a Civil War today. Those who ought to be subjects of the Almighty King (Satan & his demons) have rebelled and refuse to bow their knee to their rightful King and Lord. Furthermore, when Jesus died on the cross, and then was raised from the dead, he defeated Satan completely. JESUS WON THAT WAR!!!
However, in the same way that the KKK was unwilling to admit defeat and tried to intimidate those who had been made free, so it is with the devil and his hordes of followers. When we are following what Christ taught us, we are dangerous to them and we become targets for the evil tactics of a frustrated, defeated enemy. Since Satan cannot get at God, he sends his remaining demons to try and make life so difficult for the believers that maybe, just maybe, he can get us to give up on church and on God.
OH, by the way, there is one more concern to take into account for those who would jab and fight from under the cover of anonymity: you are NOT anonymous to God. He sees what you do and knows the evil you intend, whether you burn crosses or send unsigned nasty letters.
FOR THOSE OF US who know someone who’s been on the receiving end of a bully’s evil efforts, there are a couple things we can do.
First, PRAY! Pray that God would cover the letter recipient with his love and comfort and grant them the courage and peace they will need to be able to deal with such evil.
Second, find a way to let that person know how much they ARE loved and how little that bully speaks for the group. Talk, listen, spend time with him or her. (And facebook, twitter, and my space don’t count! The one you are trying to encourage needs to be able to hear the empathy and love as you are with them… online doesn’t allow that and even great thoughts can seem hurtful at times).
Third, don’t just react to them. I mean, they need to feel loved and connected, but if you and I just get MORE offended and take his (or her) problem on as our own, then we can’t help as much. Usually, it ends up sounding like a gripe session where EVIL is the only topic of discussion and the God of love is left out. (Again, that’s another reason to avoid the online treatment of such an important matter.)
GOD knows who is a bully and a coward trying to destroy one of his loved ones. Let’s make sure that can NEVER be said about us.