Christians - the predictive search test
What do people think of Christians? I’ve been thinking about this as I preach through 1 Peter. The Christians Peter writes to are clearly the victims of slander and malicious talk. They are subject to hostile questioning and are suffering for their faith.
2000 years on in post Christendom Sydney what do people think of Christians? To find out I typed “Christians are" into google.
Google’s predictive search function offered the following ranked list of alternative search terms:
Christians are delusional
Christians are hypocrites
Christians are crazy
Christians are ignorant
Christians are annoying
Christians are like manure
Christians are brainwashed
Christians aren’t perfect
Christians are arrogant
Christians are wrong
What a list! Who knows how Google does their search algorithms but presumably these searches represent what you might want to type based on what the other millions of other searchers have typed. If that is right then this is hardly a flattering picture of Christians is it?
I’ve been sharing this list over the last week or so & met some interesting responses:
Some blame the internet - it is a poisonous well of bitter and twisted people so don’t be surprised. You’d get different forms of this for any group whether it is ‘Atheists are’ or ‘Australians are’ or ‘People from the Sutherland Shire are’. I’m not sure this is right - when you type ‘lawyers are’ and get a more flattering list then it suggests we should sit up and notice.
Some say this matters deeply in a digital age with biblical illiteracy where google is the gateway to knowledge. What kind of links would people arrive at who genuinely want to investigate Christianity?
others say this should cause us to take heart - people are expressing digital rage because Christians are living in ways that are different and distinctive and grate against the dominant culture. If this distinctiveness and offence comes from the gospel and not from other things then that is a good thing.
It’s made me think that even here in comfortable Sydney we may not be so far from the world that Peter wrote to. I don’t want to minimize the difference. We aren’t about to be burned in Nero’s gardens.
Experiencing personal hostility for your beliefs is unusual. But our culture is hostile to Christianity. Google is just a barometer of that.
We need to think about life and mission from the context of being reviled and unattractive and marginalized. How do you share the gospel with a suburb that thinks you are hypocritical, crazy, ignorant, annoying, manure like etc? That will present different challenges from mission even a generation ago where the parish church could be the centre of community life.