Holy Emails

I’m continually amazed by what winds up in my inbox.

I’m not at all surprised by coupons and get-rich-quick appeals or adverstisements for the various book stores I visit. I’m not shocked by the ocassional shout-out from a former high school or college classmate. Emails from people I’ve never met, from places I’ve never been, asking for prayers or spiritual advice don’t blow me away anymore. They used to. Now I know that’s just one of the crazy ways my God works.

No, what amazes me is the email I get, at least three or four times a week, that exists only to incite hatred or foster division or to ridicule other children of God.

This I do not understand.

Usually, these emails are sent en masse. These emails that criticize or make fun of entire groups of people based on race or socio-economic status or nationality or political party or language or religion are generally forwards of forwards of forwards of forwards. These emails can be forwarded a dozen times from Uncle Frank through some guy at church via that lady at work and her ex-father-in-law’s accountant. By the time it reaches me, these emails have been sent to dozens and dozens of different people, men and women who read the content and then forward it on to others.

And I can’t help but wonder, “What was going through my friend’s mind when he forwarded this to me and other people in our church?”

What’s going on mentally and spiritually here? I imagine that he opens the email from cousin Julie, he reads it, he understands it, and then he decides to forward it. But I know the Holy Spirit lives inside my friend’s heart. This email from him is crass and crude and hateful. How did this happen? I know my friend has died to the ways of the world, he’s died to himself, and now Christ our Lord lives in him. This email from him, though, is off-color and racist. Why did he send it? Who was guiding my friend as he hit the “forward” button and began adding names from his address book on these emails? Did he seriously consider what he had read? Did he pause even for a moment before he hit “send?” Did he pray first?

What made my friend think that Jesus would have approved the sending of that email? What made my friend think that email was holy? Perhaps my friend wasn’ t thinking.

Allow me to borrow from Jack Reese:

I cannot quite grasp it. People who go to church every week, who read the Bible, listen to sermons, take communion and pray, people who say ‘hello’ in the supermarket and root for their grandkids at soccer matches, who edge their lawns, drive under the speed limit, and show pictures of their new puppy at the hairdresser’s, people of good will and good manners with high moral commitments and low tolerance for rude behavior nevertheless speak ill of others, spread gossip, criticize, disparage, and pass judgment on those with whom they disagree. And often they do so in the name of Christ.

In a lot of these forwarded emails, I don’t see much evidence of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self control.

Do your emails encourage or discourage? Are your emails holy? Does God’s Holy Spirit guide what you forward to others?

Email can be a wonderful thing. I’ve also discovered that, if we’re not thinking, it can be commandeered by Satan for his destructive purposes.

And it’ll have our name on it.




  1. Rob's Dad

    Did you call him on it like you called me on one I sent you? I didn’t pray about the one I sent you but I thought it was funny in a twisted Marine Corps way and I thought you might get a chuckle out of it. When I got your reply, my first response was “What’s the big deal – it was just for grins”. But upon further reflection, I did feel bad that I had upset you. I don’t remember exactly what is was but I’m glad you called me on it. I still thought it was funny as I am twisted Marine but I value you and I wouldn’t send you anything like it again.

    So call this guy on it.


  2. Allan

    Dude, that was a long time ago. I can’t even remember what it was. I do remember my reply to you, wondering how someone who claims to be a disciple of Jesus and a temple for the Spirit of our God could really say or promote something like what you had sent me. I pray my response wasn’t sanctimonious or holier-than-thou. That’s not the point of this blog post and it’s never the point of my responses to inappropriate emails. The point is to call us all back to thinking with the mind of Christ and being guided by his Spirit. Not just at church, not just on Sundays, not just when we’re around the preacher — all the time.

    It doesn’t upset me to receive these kinds of emails. It disappoints me.

    And, of course, I called him on it. I call everybody on it. We’re trying to get there together, right?

    One yard at a time, brother.

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