Audio version read by your truly ssresist.mp3
Anger, outrage, injustice, blame, misinformation, fear, guilt, bullying, dismissal, argument, condescension, hatred, recrimination, deception – unfortunately these are common descriptors of our times. Like flies in a spider’s web of some uncertain agenda we are being trapped and trained into becoming a culture of contempt. Emotion rather than reason! Shouting over discussion! Lambasting instead of listening! Characterizing others by their flaws, faults, and opinions conclusively erases the possibility of their personal value, justifying their dismissal. This way their experience, expertise and perspective can be obliterated and rendered irrelevant. We learn this horrifying mistreatment of people not from Christianity, as would be assumed by some, but from an enlightened elite political and media community that knows what is best, and must eliminate by any means those who disagree – for our own good of course. This makes us easy targets for mind manipulation.
I have been pondering our sins of racial injustice and have invited you to do the same. In the pursuit of understanding I have shattered my preconceptions by immersing myself in researching the experience and mindset of my neighbors living in the same vicinity but with wildly different realities. I have steeled myself not to allow the images of ongoing violence and destruction to undercut my resolve to really listen instead of conveniently dismissing the whole narrative. If I wanted to justify insulation against repentance for racial indifference, inflammatory rhetoric and constant negative press has made that the easy choice. Senseless violence, along with the ensuing crime and chaos, have confused and obscured to the casual observer both the message and the path to lasting justice. All sides are being played by unseen handlers with less than honorable objectives, and in the midst of all the turmoil it seems that people are retreating back to their corners rather than focusing on actionable change. Mobs do not think. Government resists violence. Laws are not changed by anarchy, but by reasoned debate and cooperation, challenging as it is.
It would be easy to throw up our hands in frustration and walk away. And you are free to do this – that is, of course, unless you are a follower of Jesus. True, business model churchdom is disappointing. There has been some preaching about justice, but it is hard to see the reaching out, the standing with, the coming alongside. Without leadership and example we become more entrenched in our own opinions and prejudices or stay focused on ‘safer’ service. Now is the time for the church to wake up, to repent, to live out our calling – to put the “reaching” back into preaching, living out that dangerous unselfishness MLK spoke of.
We can expect in our immediate future to be barraged with constant political drivel, tempting us to give in to rage and disgust at our opponents. We can expect to be manipulated by lies and half truths and terrorized by fearful scenarios if the ‘other’ wins. However – please let us take a moment to consider who we are as believers so we can react appropriately as messengers presenting an alternate reality – especially on social media. There is so much reproach brought onto the name of Christ because of Christians who value their right to free speech more than their call to be ambassadors for Jesus. It is way easier to demean, ridicule and dismiss the ‘other’ for their personality or faults than to honestly consider the reasons for their “objectionable” opinions. After thoughtful consideration of their position, you may still disagree, but to objectify people as stupid enemies rather than worthy opponents makes you a pawn (or bishop or knight) in the hands of the forces of darkness.
And so what if the politics of the day does not reflect your preference? Many of our brethren around the world know what it really means to be persecuted, and yet they love their enemies with the truth. Jesus lived it, had a few words for the religious frauds, and fewer still for the rulers of His day, aware of their fleeting appointment to authority. His last temptation in the wilderness was for political power and He refused. The early church was busy persuading their world about a better King, rescuing discarded children, tending to the sick and poor, turning the world upside down by talk of a coming kingdom, and were rewarded by being burned as torches for the government highway. In contrast Christians today can hide behind their keyboards spewing outbursts of righteous indignation, prideful moralizing, and unrelenting opinionating. How is that persuading people to a higher world – to say nothing about tarnishing the name of the Jesus we are called to represent? So before we start judging, as believers remember that condescending words and attitudes look the same as torched cities to the King who judges the heart. We are called to speak the truth, but with that pesky little four letter word l-o-v-e. “Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.” Wiersbe
I know, I am sitting behind a keyboard myself. I am preaching to me and I am betting that I am not the only one who needs a reminder. We are in a warfare, but the enemies we face are not the political system, the rioters and looters, the sleeping church. Our enemy is infinitely more dangerous!! His weapons are seductive and the dangers are real – especially the peril of being sucked into hatred, even in its most subtle of expressions – contempt. It has the power to corrupt your soul and destroy your faith. The kingdom is at hand and Jesus has shown us His ways – love (respect) your enemies, let people makes mistakes on you without resentment, listen to and advocate for the oppressed – but do it all after you love God with everything you’ve got.“The people who possess the kingdom of God in its reality are people who overcome the obstacles of each other’s faults.” – Frances Frangipane, TheThree Battlegrounds