The “Nasty-Gram”: loosely defined as an unpleasant, written, electronic communication, frequently sent and received on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, usually sent unsolicited by people who may or may not know the recipient. The sender often sends the correspondence under the veil of anonymity, but occasionally the sender will reveal his or her identity. The content of the correspondence is usually emotionally-driven, profanity-laced, hateful in its rhetoric, and can be either overtly or subtly threatening. More often than not, the sender’s bark is much worse than his or her bite. Today, I received a “nasty-gram” from someone named Mike Tate–someone, as far as I can tell, I’ve neither met nor have I had any prior correspondence.
I usually don’t respond to nasty-grams. 99 times out of 100, the person is not at all interested in dialogue. They are only interested in communicating a diatribe. But something about Mike Tate’s message evoked in me a desire to respond. There are lots of people like Mike Tate in the world–lots of people who are angry and hateful–lots of people who need the forgiveness, reconciliation, and salvation only Jesus Christ can give. That’s why I’ve decided to respond to him in an open letter format.
Dear Mike Tate:
Thank you for contacting me, Mike. Your message gives me the opportunity to pray for you.
I want you to know, Mike, that I am not angry with you–not in the least. While no one (myself included) likes to receive hate mail, your message didn’t bother me. I’m not playing the tough guy, or anything like that. Your message simply did not evoke in me any negative emotions. I guess the only thing I felt when I received your message was pity for you and the apparent condition of your heart and soul.
Mike: have we met? Have we ever communicated via email or on social media? If we have, please forgive me for not remembering. I say that without a hint of sarcasm. I am simply at a loss as to why I have drawn your ire.
Have I said or done something, anything to you personally that has caused you to be so angry with me? If so, please let me know in the comments section below. If I have erred in some way, or if I have indeed sinned against God by mistreating you, please let me know so I can seek your forgiveness.
Since you contacted me via Facebook, I visited your Facebook pages, as well as your website. Mike, you are a very talented artist. I enjoyed looking at your artwork. And, for the record: I do not hold it against you that you are a Giants fan. No one is perfect. 🙂 While I don’t believe your ace can hold a candle to my ace (Clayton Kershaw), your guy certainly has pitched better than mine in the post-season.
Mike, even though your note was very short, you made several accusations against me. I would like to address those.
“Your [sic] incredibly arrogant.”
While you have me at a loss, since I do not know what I said or did that has given you the impression that I am “incredibly arrogant, I readily admit I can be arrogant at times. I can get pretty cocky. I am a very confident person, by nature. While I should have no confidence in me, and while all of my confidence should be in Jesus Christ and Him alone, I have no doubt there are times when I come across as a “know-it-all” or boastful.
I’m really trying to work on this, and I’m thankful for my church elders, family, and close friends who are willing to hold me accountable.
Again, Mike, I don’t know what I’ve done or said to give you this impression. Nonetheless, I again plead guilty as charged. I can be very annoying. Ask my wife and daughters. I probably laugh harder at my own jokes than anyone else’s. Oh, and get me going in a theological or philosophical debate, and I have a hard time allowing my opponent off the mat–even if they cry “uncle.”
I also have several annoying habits, which I won’t get into now. But something tells me you’re not referring to those, since we do not know each other.
Certainly many people find my incessant gospel preaching, as well as my street and online evangelism, annoying. Some of those who find annoying my commitment to communicating the gospel of Jesus Christ are professing Christians. Most unsaved people like yourself (that’s an assumption on my part) find my gospel ministry very annoying. To some, I no doubt seem and sound like a broken record.
I probably can and should do better to have a less annoying persona, and I should engage in less annoying behavior. As for my gospel ministry: I make no apologies for that. I can’t. To do so would be a denial of my faith and a denial of my Savior, Jesus Christ. If I am preaching or proclaiming the truth of God’s Word, if my gospel presentation is accurate, and if I am speaking the truth with love for God and love for people, I’m not worried that some people find me annoying. In fact, if people didn’t find me annoying in this regard, I would have to closely examine what I’m saying to people because I would no doubt be errantly communicating the message to people.
“…..and full of horse !@#$%.”
Mike, you are either accusing me of lying or embellishing, which are two sinful peas in the same pod.
Yes, I have told lies. Yes, I have embellished stories for effect or to make myself look better. Once again, I’m guilty as charged. Before I came to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, I prided myself in being an honest person. However, I always had what I thought was a good excuse ready if it was more convenient to lie or to exaggerate. I didn’t hate these sins. I also wasn’t particularly concerned about who was hurt by my sinful behavior. Regardless of what I might have said to the contrary, I was the most important person to me.
When God caused me to be born-again to a living hope, when He extended to me the priceless gifts of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, He took my heart of stone and He gave me a heart of flesh. The sins I once loved I now hated. Oh, I didn’t become a perfect person in any stretch of the imagination. I will not know perfection this side of heaven. But that’s my desire. I don’t desire to be better than the next person. That’s not my motivation. My desire is to do that which pleases my Father in heaven. And I want to please Him. I am not motivated by a desire to earn His love, mercy, and grace, but rather because I am so thankful for the love, mercy, and grace He has given to me, a sinner.
There is, of course, one thing about which I can honestly say I’ve never lied and that is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“I know you love it!”
Love what, Mr. Tate? Being arrogant, annoying, and full of it? If that’s what you are suggesting, you are mistaken, sir. As I mentioned above, I do not love my sin. I hate it. I want to be rid of it. All of it. forever. Since my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness, I can not only long for the day, but I can look forward to the day with assurance, when sin will never again be an issue in my life.
You may take this the wrong way, Mr. Tate, but I will tell you what (or who) I do love. I love you, Mike. I love you enough to take the time to answer your hateful message. I love you enough to tell you the truth about me, and the truth about you.
Mike, beyond your artistry and the message you sent me, I really know nothing about you. I certainly don’t know your heart, although Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” However, I have no qualms telling you that you need Christ. God sees the hatefulness in your message to me as murder. The Bible says that whoever hates another person is a murderer.
Mike, murder begins, it does not end, with hatred. That hatred moves from the heart to the mind where it formulates a plan. And then it moves to the hand where it carries out the act. Whether a bullet to the brain, a knife to the heart, or a bat over the head–the murder began, the murder took place the moment the hatred formed in your heart.
This leads me to your last statement.
“One day you will pay for it.”
What do you mean by that, Mr. Tate? Is that a threat? I hope not. I hope not, for my sake and for yours.
Oh, I mean you no harm. Not at all. My faith in Christ has taught me not to respond in kind to people who sin against God at my expense. Bumping chests with you to see who’s tougher would be a sinful waste of my time and a rather boring endeavor.
When I say, “I hope not, for my sake and for yours,” I am only saying that I don’t want to be harmed, and I don’t want you to face any earthly consequences for a poor decision. I also don’t want you to face eternity in hell for heaping sin on top of sin–heaping physical murder on top of murder-in-the heart.
If you intended the statement as threat, I want you to know that I live by these truths:
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:28-31).
The worst thing you could ever do to me, Mr. Tate, is be used by God to usher me into the presence of my King–Jesus Christ the Lord.
Or, could it be that when you say “you will pay for it” you are suggesting I will be punished by God for the sins of which you have accused me? While I doubt you are thinking that way, in the off-chance you are, I should address it.
No, Mr. Tate, I will not face God’s punishment for my sins. It’s not because I do not deserve God’s punishment for my sins against Him. It’s not because I’m a good person. We’ve already established and agree that I am not. I won’t dodge God’s wrath because I go to church. I won’t get a “Get Outta Hell, Free” card because I’m a gospel preacher. And I most certainly won’t be able to bribe the Judge of the Universe with my “good works.”
I can confidently say I will not face God’s wrath-filled, righteous, and just punishment for my sins. I do not simply believe this. I know this. But my confidence is not based on anything I have done to to work off an eternal sentence. My confidence is in what Jesus Christ has done on my behalf.
“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:21-26)
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1-4).
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:31-39).
“In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him”. (Colossians 2:11-15).
No, Mr. Tate, I won’t “pay for it” someday. Jesus Christ has paid the debt I owe to God, and He paid it in full!
My hope for you, Mike Tate, is that God will grant to you the gifts of forgiveness, reconciliation, and eternal life, just as He has granted them to me. I am no better than you, Mr. Tate, but I am better off. I am better off because, at present, it would appear you are dead in your sin, but I have been made alive in Christ, for it is by grace I have been saved.
I hope that one-day God will remove the adjective hateful from your name. I pray He will give you new adjectives that accurately describe your person and your heart. I pray He will call you “blessed,” “forgiven,” “redeemed,” “saved,” “born-again,” “adopted,” and “beloved.”
Again, I’m glad you contacted me, Mr. Tate. It has given me the blessed opportunity to communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ to you and to pray for you.
I welcome a response from you. Please, feel free to comment, below.
NOTE: While anyone is welcome to comment on this open letter, I ask that you keep your comments to the content of the letter and do not directly address Mike. When there are too many voices, words get lost. I would like to keep my conversation with Mike between the two of us. Thank you.