Air quotes are an abomination unto the Lord. – John
There, I said it.
You know what I’m talking about, friend. You’re engaged in an online discussion with another Christian; sharing your religious views, comparing Scripture interpretations, discussing politics, or debating the issues of the day, and in the face of a perspective that doesn’t quite match theirs, they finally decide to detonate the bomb of bombs upon you in some lazy theological mic drop:
They call you a “Christian” or a “Pastor” or a “Believer”.
The air quotes ooze sarcasm, they drip with condescension, and they exist solely to demean you, disqualify your perspective, and shut down conversation. (All very Jesus-esque tactics, btw.) The quotes are a sugar-coated middle finger, letting you know that this relative stranger is declaring your personal faith convictions fraudulent, your public declaration irrelevant, and your life story false. The air quotes are Gospel.
The irony of such tactics is that they reflect the kind of unchecked arrogance that Jesus frequently condemned in the Pharisees; the Jewish religious leaders who appointed themselves gatekeepers of the Kingdom. Fancying themselves authorities on the moral condition of humanity, they made it part of their regular job description to police the souls of strangers, while themselves losing the plot.
Jesus verbally tore them a new one, quite regularly.
The Pharisees are still alive and well today; lurking in comments sections, cluttering your Twitter mentions, and trolling your Facebook threads. They regularly dispense damnation and claim to know you better looking through a few 140-character windows than you know you, based on a lifetime in your own skin. This is hubris at Everest levels.
One of the greatest mistakes we make in our spiritual journeys, is wearing the degrading labels that others would affix to us. We allow their snap judgements and drive-by evaluations to stick. In the face of our far less-informed critics, we so easily forget our roads, doubt our experiences, and second guess our own hearts.
Resist these temptations at every turn, dear friend. They are the stuff devils are made of.
The truth is, Jesus is the only one qualified to verify your Christian testimony; not Jesus as translated by someone else, not Jesus as passed through another’s theological filter, not Jesus constructed from a few isolated Scripture verses tagged onto their opinions.
That’s the beauty of your spirituality—it belongs to you alone.
It is the sum total of your life, your study, your experiences, your relationships, your private prayers, and the things God has revealed to you alone. It is outside the jurisdiction of other people. They don’t get a say. They don’t get to determine your devotion to Jesus. They get to shut up and worry about the redwood plank in their own eye.
The air-quoters want you to feel that your pursuit of God is less intelligent, less authentic, less real, and less relevant than their own, and when you refuse to do so—they lose their minds. When you ignore them, they implode.
Here the good news: Jesus alone defines your Christianity; not a stranger, not a social media friend, and not a bitter Pharisee with a Twitter account and control issues. Never be defined by someone who knows less about you than you do—which turns out to be a pretty extensive list.
The next time anyone tries to cheapen your religious convictions with air quotes, sarcastic remarks, or outright insults, realize that this says far more about them than it will ever say about you. Remember how unqualified they are to comment on the path that you’re on. You keep walking your road and resting in what your heart knows and what your eyes have seen.
Your faith is your sole property.
As for the air-quoters: bless their “hearts”.
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