When I was last serving as a chatroom host, someone with the username “soundDoctrine” jumped in to comment. He began his mini-tirade with “I don’t mean to offend anyone, but…” As someone later noted, anytime someone begins a statement with “I don’t mean to offend” you can be sure that what is to follow is likely to be offensive.
soundDoctrine went on to say that what were were doing was not really church. It was people gathering together to find out about each other (never mind the fact that there were comments being made about worship and questions being answered for people who were new to the website).
soundDoctrine finished by saying, “I don’t want to get in trouble, so I’m going to leave now.” I’m sure she said that before she saw my comment thanking her for the challenging words and inviting her to stick around.
I take issue with soundDoctrine on a couple of fronts.
First, it’s not particularly beneficial to throw a verbal grenade into an arena and then exit without giving anyone a chance to engage in any meaningful dialogue. It diminishes the value of the challenge and dishonors the people or organization to whom the comment was made.
Second, Jesus made this great statement that was recorded in the Gospels. He’s having a conversation with some of his followers about various aspects of what it means to live out what we believe. At one point he says, “For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18.20 NLT)
That statement alone is a pretty strong challenge to soundDoctrine’s comments. There was great conversation, prayer and, yes, even worship going on in this online community. And, we were gathered as followers of Jesus.