Did you know you can use salt to put out a fire? In fact, if you have a kitchen grease fire (and don’t have a fire-extinguisher) you shouldn’t use water, but instead cover it with salt.
Why bring this up? Because there are some people out there reading this who need to use their salt (Col 4:5-6) to put out some fires.
Have you ever heard of the internet term “Flaming“? Wikipedia defines it this way,
“Flaming is hostile and insulting interaction between Internet users… usually the result of the discussion of heated real-world issues…”
When it really gets out of hand it’s called a “Flame War“. Wikipedia wisely remarks,
“Flame wars often draw in many users (including those trying to diffuse the flame war) and can overshadow regular forum discussion if left unchecked.”
Email is a wonderful way to send information to people in a hurry, but it is also terrible at conveying emotion and meaning. And because of this a lot of churches today are now embroiled in e-mail “flame wars”.
One one side there are people using this God-given technology to incite arguments, slander and spread lies. On the other are well-intentioned people are trying to help by responding to the emails. And as these messages get more frequent and made more public as others get CC’d (and some even printed out to share), more people are pulled into the fray. This is extremely damaging to every part of the church – fellowship, outreach, worship, and discipleship ministries.
My simple message is this: In the name of God it has to STOP!
If you get one of those e-mails, don’t respond to it electronically. If your heart is burning because of what you just read, bring the war to God (Rom 12:19), and don’t add fuel to the fire. The water you are spraying to put out the fire may only be spreading the grease and making it worse! After you have prayed, if so led, get on the phone, or better, go see the sender face to face. E-mail is too easy to send (and later regret) and too easy to misunderstand.
I entreat you with the words of scripture and beg you to read them prayerfully:
“How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.” (James 3:5-12 ESV)
What about you? Have you ever gotten one of these e-mails? How did you respond? Ever been part of a “Flame War”?