The noise of modernity
I have friends from one extreme of the political spectrum to the other whom I follow on Facebook. The vast majority of these friends declare to be Christians. Yet, what confuses me most is how extremely reactive these Christians can be. Every event is an outrage, every act an injustice, everything is a pure act of evil, etc. etc. etc. One would surmise from their passionate postings that we were about to be catapulted into the abyss of evil for eternity.
People chill out!
How is that we as Christians can be so reactive to the things of this world? Why is it that we believe that somehow a corrupt and broken system is yet capable of profound acts of righteousness? Why do we lend our faith, which is what connects us to God’s hope, and we place it on the things and institutions of this temporal world? We replace our faith of hope with a worry of concern.
In Romans 14 we find Paul instructing the church to be mindful of those who are weak and receive them. Note that he doesn't say join them in their obsessions or judgments but he does charge us with receiving them, not judging them on their faith and “pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”
This is a tall order but one we must confront. I find myself judging them for being so catastrophic in their outlook and at the same time I shake my head in disbelief as I surmise that their outrage is misplaced. But if I’m not careful, in place of receiving them or providing a word of counsel to counter the panic I oft decide to just ignore them. I almost look at them with pity in the way a veteran looks at a rookie who is misplacing their energies in superficial concerns.
Paul in Romans 14 and in 1 Corinthians 8 writes about those believers who are obsessing over things that they feel they need to be holy. So in quick flash summary style, what Paul is really saying is receive these weaker members into the fold, teach them to place their trust in God, don't argue, but build them up and they’ll come around. They’ll find peace in a broken world.
Historically, Christianity has been criticized for being a “crutch” for the weak or in Karl Marx’s case he stated, “religion is the opiate of the masses.” The attempt here of course is to demonstrate the irrelevancy of faith to the politics of the day. The irony is that to anyone who studies history we see it has become revealingly evident that “politics” fails to produce hope. Obsession with politics merely produces anxiety, concern and distrust. Politics is absent of unity and fuels polarization on many levels. Yet in today’s world it seems like many of our Christians who profess Christ are holding on to politics of this world as a lens to understand the realities of the day and as a crutch to affirm their faith.
Don't get me wrong, I’m not a proponent for being so heavenly bound that we are useless on earth but I am a proponent of being faithful to the mission we were called to do. As Christians our call is to call people to Christ, to build them up so they can be effective in the church and in their reflection of Christ in their daily living. In investing in the transformation of people we eventually change communities and nations.
When we go into panic mode because a broken world is “acting” broken it shouldn't surprise us and we shouldn't use it as some sort of barometer for the failing of Christendom. So often we behave so panicked that in essence many wish to bypass the transformation of the heart in people in order to appeal to the masses and thus we focus on changing the policies of a nation instead. As if broken people could respond to righteousness in their transgressions. We are called to be in the storm of personal transformation.
In the midst of the storm a sailor doesn't scream with horror every time we get wet, every time the waves swell above you, every time it thunders or every time there is lightning. We learn to keep our hands on the helm, our eyes on the waves, our feet firmly planted on the deck and our hope in the harbor we cannot see.
In this life, place your hands on scripture, keep your eyes alert to avoid the waves of temptation that come your way, plant your feet in a healthy church, and focus your energies on Christ. Sometimes the victory comes after you've been soaked with the waves of crisis down to your underwear and your feet are tired of standing, and the harbor may still be days away but victory is surviving the storm just enough so you can sail for a few more days with integrity and hope.
Remind yourself that everything isn’t an outrage. Everything isn’t a crisis. Everything doesn't demand your immediate attention.
At the same time remember, everything can be brought to the cross for prayer, everything can be surrendered to God and everything is under God’s authority. In the midst of all the yelling in modern times, find the space to hear the whisper of God, be still and know He is God. (Psalms 46:10)
In the still of His presence you will find peace, hope, purpose and intentionality. In the midst of the cries of this world you must demonstrate compassion but do not let them consume you with false urgencies that will rob you of the whisper of God.
In the end, know that
God will clear the way, He will prepare the path and He will equip you for your victory.