31Aug

Defriend me . . . please?

....but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. ~ John 15:19

by Toni Birdsong
The direct message in my Facebook inbox was titled “enough Jesus already.”

The message, sent by a longtime friend, just got better from there. “I regret having to do this but I have to defriend you. I’m seriously over the 24/7 Jesus feed. If you want to go to church, do you really have to do it on Facebook? So that’s it. Don’t take it personally.”

I logged-off and prayed. A few hours later I wrote my friend back. I told him I would miss the great updates about his life and the pictures of his adorable kids but that I respected his point of view and still loved him.

Then I told him this: “You said not to take it personally but I’ll confess, I’m actually overjoyed to take it personally. You see, to be associated with Jesus Christ is my highest honor. You don’t know Him yet but He’s amazing! Who else do you know who would willingly climb up on a cross and suffer a violent death in your place? When He did that for me, and I truly understood it, it “clicked” in my heart in a huge way. His gesture meant that I—a total misfit and sinner—would get to experience God’s friendship and love . . . forever. So, you see, you defriending me is one ‘nail’ I can take. If this is the price I have to pay for sharing that miracle, then please, defriend me.”

In America in the 21st century, most Christians experience “cushy” persecution. We may not get invited to certain parties. We might get passed over for a promotion or even fired. Some of us might get called names like “Jesus freak,” or “church nerd.” Or—God-bless the bludgeoned—we may get blocked or de-friended online.

Then there’s Paul. Second Corinthians 11:24-27 describes in dramatic detail the hardships Paul endured.

Saint George Preca has been likened as a succe...

St. Paul, Image via Wikipedia

“Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.”

When’s the last time you used words like “lashed, beaten, pelted, perilous, danger, hunger and thirst” when catching someone up on the happenings in your ministry or in your church? Exactly.

During his ministry Paul also covered an estimated 14,000 miles on foot, was jailed several times, run out of towns, and finally beheaded for preaching the gospel.

Indeed, most of us are far from being persecuted for identifying ourselves with Jesus Christ. If you still aren’t convinced, go visit Voice of the Martyrs and prepare to have your perspective rocked. Permanently.

Sharing my faith in my online channels is the very least I can do. To keep a lid on what I know would be like walking through a cancer ward with a cure in my pocket . . . and not saying a word. I can’t not share the miracle.

Oh, and my Facebook friend—he didn’t defriend me after all. In fact, since our brief exchange we’re talking twice as much! God’s up to something. Alas, I’ve narrowly escaped persecution once again . . .

Tweet/Post this today: Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. ~Galatians 6:9

Have you ever been persecuted for your faith? What did you learn?

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  • Melinda Ysaguirre

    “To keep a lid on what I know would be like walking through a cancer ward with a cure in my pocket . . . and not saying a word. I can’t not share the miracle.” <-That's a mantra for ALL believers.
    Following Jesus is a lifestyle not an event-there is a price that comes with the commitment. Rejection used to bother me alot. As I grow in faith and maturity, I'm learning to wear it as a badge of honor and courage.
    Thank you, beloved friends for taking the lid off your faith-shining bright and sharing God's extravagant love, mercy, and grace. 
    You. Are. Loved.
    #All4Him

  • http://www.tonyjalicea.com Tony J. Alicea

    You are an inspiration, Toni. I love the grace with which you responded to Him. It would have been so easy to get upset and angry about that. I love that you DID take it personally, in such a joyful way.

    I’m praying that your friend hears the gentle voice of God beckoning him. I’m so glad that you were able to be a reflection of His heart. Thank you for leading the way!

  • Tedgraham

    Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” (Matthew 4:19 NLT). Maybe you just lost person by pulling the hook out of his mouth?

  • Anonymous

    @tonyjalicea:disqus …. note that I logged off and prayed first. A critical step in responding with a God-honoring heart and not our own . . . we’re sunk without Him.

  • Coenraad Fick

    Such a great example of what the Lord can do when you pray before you reply.

    One of the wonderful things with online communication is that you do not have to answer immediately. You can take minutes, hours or days to pray and meditate on the message, and then we can respond in a way that will honor God!

  • Recycledwomen

    Amazing message of sharing the gospel regardless of cost.  Even when the cost hurts your heart for the loss of a long time friend for a short period here on earth with the chance of them coming to Jesus is worth it as opposed to a life-long heartache it would be when you see them in line going to Hell because you never had to courage to share the truth.  I would rather hurt for sharing the love of Christ by losing a friend because of my faith then the pain forever knowing I never took the chance to step outside to share Eternal Life for my own comfort while they truly suffer forever.  Great writing and praying for your friend!

  • Sheryl Griffin

    This is a great message and reminder! I will be praying for your friend  :) 

  • Stephanie @ Daily Victories

    I can really relate to this post. So much that I featured it on my blog today (hope you don’t mind)!Thanks for sharing this. It was a TIMELY encouragement to me!

    Love in Christ,
    Stephanie

    http://daily-victories.blogspot.com

  • Anonymous

    “Oh, and my Facebook friend—he didn’t defriend me after all. In fact, since our brief exchange we’re talking twice as much. God’s up to something. And, alas, I’ve escaped persecution yet again . . .”  GOD IS ALWAYS UP TO SOMETHING… ♥Tweet/Post this today: Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. ~Galatians 6:9  SO TRUE… ♥Have you ever been persecuted for your faith? What did you learn?  DON’T LIKE IT BUT KNOW GOD IS SURELY “UP TO SOMETHING GOOD!”at least you were told instead of blocked never to speak/talk/type again…  :(ms. jan

  • Anonymous

    @7b314c8a5a94126999887864149d15b4:disqus … so true, every word. I’m blessed that my relationship with my non-believing friend actually is going deeper into the spritual. We stutter but God rocks!

  • Anonymous

    @google-052abf57478ceac7137f03a4dab022ea:disqus … that would be awesome. We’ll be praying together … for all our friends that God has “divinely” placed in our social networking circles. <3

  • Anonymous

    @coenraadf:disqus … whenever I feel the “need” to respond, that is the Spirit telling me to shut down and walk away. I’ve messed up too many times rushing to be right. Thanks, Coenraad! 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=671101964 Jennifer Adams Klein

     Seems hard to get persecuted in this country. In the South I’m told that everyone acts like a Christian publicly even if they aren’t as a cultural rule, and here in CA people are pretty tolerant of everything as a cultural rule. Its a funny observation. I wonder a lot if my life is bold enough for Christ. Is it really just the culture or am I just shrinking back a lot? Lord knows I am trying to be bolder. Frankly I feel like most of the “persecution” I’ve suffered, if it can be called that, is from other Christians!

  • Anonymous

    @e9c56dea90a6f8d6d514b37d605e1aa1:disqus …. It sure helps when that LIGHT feeds each other and we know we aren’t going at this rejection parade. For every one person who’s rejected me, there have been 5 who come closer. That’s what we have to keep focused on . . . the joy of heaven and the commission to be salt and light to a uber dark world. I love you Melinda!

  • http://frugaltrophywife.com Brooke F

    one of my husband’s coworker told Jay that it was “silly” that i tithe.  i take that as a compliment thank you very much.  what’s that verse about the wisdom of God is foolishness to man. 

  • http://www.uptoknowgood.com Sara

    Toni – Of the inconveniences I’ve faced and rejection I’ve endured, I too have found the joy in being identified with Jesus. I’ve also seen amazing growth in others and myself during those uncomfortable times. Thanks for the perspective and encouragment to keep giving out “the cure” 24/7 online! -Sara

  • Anonymous

    @b6f6c06b4d4ceeafd4b4ef2ad9bbb16c:disqus @BrookeF:disqus @facebook-671101964:disqus … thanks for adding to the conversation. We share the same heart. How important it is to claim our piece of ground and NOT be moved. I think people admire that and become curious when you don’t waiver or cave to cultural norms. The process of becoming more like Jesus includes identifying with His sufferings. I am grateful we are not suffering the way our brothers and sisters in China and the Middle East suffer for proclaiming Christ. We are blessed beyond belief. 

  • http://www.refinedinchrist.com Phil

    Thanks for sharing Toni!

    I myself have lost friends due to the fact i’m a Christian they mocked me and just did not want to hang out anymore. Then I also have some family members that don’t tend to associate with me since I became a Christian 7 years ago. I don’t hold grunges though, the best thing I can do is keep praying for them!

    I think its easier for people to persecute on the internet though, since you are not face to face.

  • Anonymous

    @f64473fb9a6847aca2601f02f670f2fa:disqus … thanks for sharing. I dropped my net to follow Christ in 1986. I lost a ton of friends. That year I rocked everyone’s world (mine most of all) and went to Ft. Lauderdale for Spring Break . . . only I didn’t go with my college friends, I want with an evangelism team from Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship. It was a 180-degree turn from my previous life. I was shunned by my partying friends and once at the beach we got beer bottles thrown at us from balconies as we headed for evening worship, and several people actually spit on us. It was scary, humiliating but one of those life-changing scenes that made me who I am. God will allow this to help us define our “new” selves and put our stakes in the ground as His beloved. It’s all worth it as you well know. 

    I think you are right, it is easier to hide on the Internet and to be mean. With a name like @stickyJesus, we’ve had some pretty severe attacks but we just brush it off, love ’em like crazy, and keep on mission. Time is short. We can’t major in the minors . . . and there will always be minors. I’ve liked seeing you on Twitter Phil, and so glad you dropped by the blog today. :)

  • Anonymous

    @5efdf031900ce3f40e7f5162fba5e488:disqus … it was great to read your blog today (http://daily-victories.blogspot.com/) and see you take a deeper dive on this post. Bless you sister!

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been persecuted in a “cushy” way on more than one occasion. And I’m certain that it will happen (or at least I hope) in the future.

    What I have learned is three-fold:
    1. Persecution or rejection of some kind is inevitable for a believer. If it never happens, I need to check myself to see what and Whom I am reflecting. Ultimately people are rejecting Christ and not me. So I must remember that it’s not really personal even though feels like it. And I must be prepared to face it in a Christ-like manner because it will happen if I’m living out Biblical truths.

    2. How I face it will have a lasting impact. My kind and loving response (versus crazy emotional reaction) will be a sticking point. Even if someone chooses to reject me completely, a Christ-like retort has long lasting power. This is true in cases where people don’t know Christ as well as cases when they do know Him but aren’t in the same place in their journey as you.

    3. Acceptance often follows rejection. Persecution proceeds conversion. (Just look at the life of Pau.) Many times when people lash out it’s because something has “struck a nerve” or “rang a bell.” This gives me leverage and steam for my prayers and the ability to see past the present pain to the future glory!

    But then again…that’s just me. A few weeks ago something very painful happened with a very close family member. They had a lot of hurtful things to say about me & Jesus. I’ve weighed their words carefully and done a lot of praying. I’m believing that God is dealing with them & that I got the “backlash” from that. Praying they’ll surrender soon!

  • Anonymous

    @melindalancaster:disqus … this is amazing! I think it’s a whole new blog post. THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME to lay this out! 

    Prayer is definitely the key to responding well. I’ll be praying for you. I didn’t get an invitation to the wedding of a very close family member because of my faith. He was in a place of utter rebellion and confusion. That was 10 years ago. He recently became a Christian. 

    The pain/persecution we suffer is VERY real at the time and devastating. It took a year or so to recover from the rejection of being left off that guest list. However, looking back and responding in love was critical. I’m rejoicing in God’s perfect TIMING!

  • Anonymous

    I guess I enjoy “thinking out loud on purpose” more on your blog than mine. Sorry if I was a “blog hog.” I never mean to be. It just so happens that your post was timely for me.

    For the past three weeks I have been (to use your word) devestated. Words can be very painful and the enemy loves to taunt us with them. Know what I mean. He’s been working overtime on me. Ugh.

    Your reply gives me even more hope. I’m sorry that you were hurt so deeply. Rejection is very painful especially from those we love most. I’m delighted though to hear about the ultimate salvation experience! Yay!

    I believe that the person that I am dealing with is in the same place that your “very close family member” was. Although I pray that it won’t take 10 years for him to turn around, I realize that my role is one of loving and praying until he does.

    And yes, God’s timing is perfect.

    I’m so grateful that He is the Healer of all things that are broken. I’ve been very broken by this situation. Writing these comments has helped me to process some of that pain.

    Thank you for giving us an opportunity to share.

    HUGS!

  • http://whenheavenshakes.blogspot.com/ When Heaven Shakes

    Love this article. Thanks so much for sharing your heart. I don’t think that any of us here in America can say that we have ever really been “persecuted”. As you mentioned, one look at Voice of the Martyrs and any idea we have of how we have been mistreated for our faith goes out the window. It is definitely difficult however to always be the one causing the eye rolling among family and friends. Your response to your own “persecution” is encouraging and a reminder of how God can take those hardened hearts and use you to slowly turn them towards the Lord. Praying that God continues to bless you for your faithfulness and that He does an awesome work in the heart of your friend. 

    -Tarrah

  • Anonymous

    @openid-101462:disqus … so true. Thanks for praying and for being a faithful voice online. We are the body of Christ and together, we can put a dent in the this space for Our Father.

  • Anonymous

    @melindalancaster:disqus … I am so grateful for that. Isn’t writing therapeutic? God shows Himself strong when we show up faithfully with an open heart. Outlove your person. Make that your goal each day. Outlove them in prayer, in small notes, in kindness. It will change you — and them. I’ll be cheering you on! xoxoxox

  • Ghost-dancer

    ‘i’ve narrowly escaped persecution once again’ is a fascinating line.  I cannot help but wonder how many would readily embrace Christianity if approached differently.  Paul explores this concept as well. 

  • Anonymous

    I just wonder.  What help does it do to post a bunch of Jesus statuses on Facebook?  The people who appreciate it aren’t the people who in your opinion need to read it.  The people who don’t appreciate it won’t have their minds change, they’ll just get more pissed off at Christians.  If we want to change the world should we not actually preach the lessons learned from the bible (hopefully only the good ones, because there are some less than savory lessons too) rather than spouting appreciation to God for everything?  I believe the more times a person uses the words Jesus or God, the less room there is for a good message that can actually change someone’s life.  Jesus preached that the only way into heaven is through love of God, not through any amount of good actions alone.  I read this lesson to mean that good actions should be made for the sake of doing good and not because you want to be repaid in the afterlife.  By this logic, I believe an atheist that throws himself in-front of a bus to save a small child because he knows in his heart it is the right thing to do is showing a far greater love for god than a Pius Christian who goes to church every Sunday and bible studies every week and tries as hard as they can to work God into every conversation they can just because they think it will get them into heaven.  I think we should keep the idea of God in check and do/say things for good’s sake because we know in our hearts it’s right instead of for God’s sake because we want to show off our piety.  That being said, I don’t believe in an afterlife, and I couldn’t care less what happens after I die anyway.  I live the way I do because it’s the way I feel is righteous and good.  If there is a hell and I end up there for living this way, my choices in life were worth it.  If that’s not a willingness to take persecution for my beliefs, I don’t know what is.  

  • Daniel Van Koughnett

    So you force your friend into “defriending” you do to your incessant, unwanted proselytizing, and your response to him is more proselytizing? You’re not much of a friend, are you? In fact, what you are is a bit of a dick. What, exactly do you hope to accomplish by pissing people off with your religious advertising? Do you think that by pissing people off you will somehow make them want to become Christians? Really, if annoying is what the life-changing power of Christ turns you into, who would want that?

    Of course Jesus had some things to say about people who flaunt their religion publicly for their own self-righteousness and costume of piety. If I recall correctly you can find it in Luke 18:11-14.

    Did you ever think that God might have wanted you to have an effect on that person’s life? Did you ever think that maybe a more powerful witness might have been to live the kind of life that he would then want to have himself? By continuing to pummel him with words that he obviously thought were insincere and empty religious rhetoric, you managed to turn him away from Jesus. You further slapping his face with more when he tried to appeal to you for understanding further cemented that rejection.

    Congratulations. If he ends up in Hell, God will be requiring an answer of you for his soul.

    Of course I highly doubt you’ll pay any attention to this. People like you are usually more interested in their cloak of piety than in actually doing God’s will. I suspect you’ll come up with plenty of excuses why this isn’t your fault.

    I doubt God is as easily fooled as you make Him out out be.

  • http://twitter.com/joeypreger Joey Preger

    There is so much pain and suffering in the Bible because that was the reality of the world at that time. Being an Alpha-Omega species we have always fought for supremacy and influence over others, organized religions not exempt (crusades for example), so it makes a lot of sense that the Bible is reflective of this.

    It is also noteworthy that most humans lived a meaningless, horrible life, tilling the land for their masters or “lords”, living a life of servitude in hell-on-earth conditions, and often times dying young and disease-ridden. Life sucked. The Bible offers eternal bliss with God if you pledge your allegiance to him and essentially accept your roll in society. It makes a lot of sense if you take a second to think about that. 

    The Church throughout history has also condemned just about everyone that has ever questioned its authority, Galileo is  GREAT example! Why would an organization dedicated to Jesus and his teachings justify that kind of behavior? Or the crusades for that matter!? 

    It’s usually at this point that some Christian’s admit that those things happened, as if it is a good enough explanation? Yes, they did happen, and still people choose to associate themselves with the oldest and most well-established criminal organization that we have ever seen!! (it’s even true that The Godfather was based off of Pope Alexander VI). It’s not as if the Church is exempt from frowned-upon behavior today, either. I don’t think I need to spell out the most obvious of crimes committed in recent times by the Church.

    Then there’s the Bible as a means to explaining “the unknown”. As a species we were still evolving and our brains had not yet developed in the direction as to apply complex scientific thought to happenings in our world (anyone is free to research this for themselves, I had a very long conversation with a Harvard professor of Neuroscience on the matter). Fast forward a couple of thousands years, evolution continues to shape us, and all life on the planet, and here we are now, debating science and religion on a medium that is ONLY possible because of science.

    I hope no one takes this as an attack. I am confident that everything I wrote up until this point was nothing more but proven historical fact. I am glad that people can find happiness through faith, but I resent when I read or am told that I don’t know true happiness because I don’t conform to a popular IDEA.

    I am curious to know this, and this is an open question to everyone:

    If you had lived your whole life up until this moment totally ignorant to the concept of God, gods, and all divine thought, do you believe that you would be leading a life that so drastically parallels the one you know, tenfold? That you would be inherently cold, unhappy, selfish and ill-mannered? 

    I suspect that a lot of people would find it hard to believe that they would, but I also suspect that some may very well say they WOULD lead terrible lives, but I don’t know anyone that would so readily admit to being that easily persuaded and manipulated by an intangible concept.

    ALL of that aside, I will say that if the poster’s friend was so upset about religious fb stati then he could have very well just hidden your updates from his feed… Religion holds no grounds on whether or not someone is acting immaturely.

  • Looscarr

    persecution? what are you talking about? christians always play the victim. you are not being persecuted!

  • Pingback: Q&A: How do you overcome the fear of sharing your faith? | @stickyJesus()

  • Ghost-dancer

    I question how the word ‘persecution’ is used with such ease–‘persecution’ is not the result of being  (or believing oneself to be) a Christian as much as a normal reaction to obnoxious behavior.  One must be very careful with that word because it in fact points to selfglorification and selfrighteousness. ‘If i become unliked, it is because of my beliefs’….really?  Bad Christians do happen to good people.
    Excellent point vechid! Its refreshing to read a sober view amidst the backslapping

  • Sue Tornai

    Praise God for His marvelous and mysterious ways! Thank you for this wonderful inspiration and encouragement and may God continue His grace in your blog and FB posts.

  • David

    Thank you so much for this blog. I have shared with several of my friends and I am going to be bolder in sharing with words…His Word. Very inspiring!

  • lea

    This really encouraged me! I had a close friend (grew up in church with me) who defriended me, and I didn’t know it until I tried to invite them through Facebook to a function our youth ministry was hosting. A part of me wanted to ask them why they did it, but I figured that wasn’t important. The important part was that I stayed consistent in my walk with Christ, regardless of how I felt. I didn’t condemn them for doing what they did, nor did I act funny around them, but I continued to love them the same way and be the same person I was to them. After a period of time, my friend re-sent me a friend request, and now we’re closer than ever. I continue to pray for them that they’ll come to know Jesus even more personally and that they’ll be the one reaching out to non-believers and people who persecute them on their faith. I praise God for being who He is! No one can truly change lives BUT the Spirit of God Himself! Thanks for sharing! You are truly an encouragement to the Believers whose faith in the power Jesus Christ has been shaken.

  • http://twitter.com/meltitus Melissa Titus

    I’ve seen this type of defriending a lot. Sometimes the person will actually tell me why, but most of the time they just defriend me after I have posted a bible verse or link to a Christian website. To me, it’s no different than if I decided to defriend someone because they share pictures of and the love they have for their kids. If you love something that much, like you said, you can’t help but share! I like your term “cushy” persecution. We really can’t complain too much when someone wants to defriend us when we think about what real persecution looks like.

  • Dixie

    Wow!!  I simply love this post.  This week I have been falsely accused and attacked for my uprightness and confrontational nature of wrongs and have to say, when your heart is right, to be attacked kind of takes your breath away…this article made my day!!

  • northierthanthou.com

    So, your friend asks you to lay off the preaching and you respond by preaching at him? That’s pretty condescending.