The way of love, exemplified by Christ, involves allowing the viewpoint of Christ to permeate our minds, according to 1st Corinthians 13:7 (NLT), which says that the love of God,
“…never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance…”
If you live in China, there is a great money-making scheme that is available to loyal citizens. You can snitch on your neighbors and have the chance to receive cold, hard cash!
According to a CBN.com article:
Earlier this month, the Meilisi Daur District in Heilongjiang Province’s Qiqihar city released “The Reward System For Reporting Illegal Religious Activities Offenses,” saying informants could be eligible to receive 1,000 yuan ($150), China Christian Daily reported.
This is consistent with the Chinese government’s crackdown on religious activities. In this case, people are asked to generate suspicion between fellow citizens. The CBN article relates:
Reportable offenses include unqualified religious personnel, unauthorized trans-regional activities, preaching and distributing printed religious works, audio-visual products outside places of worship, unauthorized donations, and private house gatherings.
Similar reward systems were offered by the Boshan District in Zibo and Weihai City, Shandong.
International Christian Concern is quoted in the article; on its website, it states:
Since 2019, local authorities around China such as Fujian, Guangxi, Henan, Hebei, and Liaoning have all offered rewards for tip-off. While they do not specify which religion they are targeting, it is self-evident that house churches are being suppressed.
Suspicion is a powerful force; when we lose trust with another person or group, it inhibits healthy communication and good will. That’s an element of critical race theory that is so harmful – when people of different racial backgrounds view one another with suspicion about one another’s attitudes or motives, simply based on his or her skin color, it cannot have a beneficial effect.
Generally speaking, when we view one another with suspicion in the Church, our practice of being overly judgmental and critical can lead to a pervasive sense of cynicism that does not produce loving, trusting relationships.
COVID has just made things worse – the virus itself doesn’t lead to suspicious thoughts, but it has certainly produced a sense of ordinary citizens becoming quick to blow the whistle on each other. For instance, in October of last year, the Boston Herald reported, “Nobody is spared in the often-anonymous complaints. More than 200,000 calls have been logged in the state’s 211 coronavirus compliance system since the onset of the pandemic in March, according to state records.”
KGW Television reported:
Days before Thanksgiving, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said she believes residents who know their neighbors are violating the most recent round of COVID-19 protocols, which includes capping the number of people allowed in your home at six, should call the police.
“This is no different than what happens if there’s a party down the street and it’s keeping everyone awake,” Brown said in an interview Friday. “What do neighbors do [in that case]? They call law enforcement because it’s too noisy. This is just like that. It’s like a violation of a noise ordinance.”
Then, there’s the restaurant in Washington state that defied COVID regulations and opened for indoor dining. KIRO Television reported that the owner, frustrated that people were calling authorities about his actions, posted a list of the names of those he called “tattletales.”
Christians must resist the temptation to become suspicious. A wave of suspicion can cause us to question literally everything. It leads to lack of trust, disharmony, and polarization. It warps our own thinking; rather than believing the best, we develop a tendency to believe the worst.
In the Church, we have to be careful not to question people’s motives incorrectly in the name of “discernment.” Discernment is a good thing, but when taken to extremes and corrupted by suspicion, it becomes a weapon that the enemy can use to destroy and divide us. You see this time and time again in social media – people, even Christians, exercise a bad habit of jumping to conclusions and hurling accusations against the motives and presumed actions of others! Is that the way of love? Or have we allowed the enemy to make us so suspicious as a Church that we are hypercritical of those with whom we disagree?
The short-circuiting of these harmful practices occurs as each of us makes sure our own spiritual house is in order. It can become our practice to tend to the log in our eye rather than concentrating on the speck in another’s eye. We can take our Savior’s words to heart when he told us that the one who is sinless should cast the first stone. Being controlled by suspicion is not a healthy practice and result in the deterioration of one’s own peace of mind.