I remember all too well the “Set it and forget it” infomercials. It was a sign of new times. You prepare things and you set the timer and you can go on to live your life at will. You could forget it was ever a thought. The buzzer would remind you. It was as simple as that.
It seems our whole society operates in a “set and forget” manner, but now it looks so much different. Instead of placing food in a box and setting a timer for dinner, we are placing judgements and strong statements in a box on social media and forgetting what (or who) is on the other side. There are no buzzers or cues to remind us that it’s “done”. What is done in these boxes can’t be undone. The view of that person is stained and changed forever. There is no going back.
While the month of August almost always seems to be a bit harried with back to school and traffic and demands at work and this and that, the whole world had a bit of that as well. The RAISE Act was introduced to the media, Venezuela began to shut down airlines due to the crisis, North Korea and Trump had a twitter battle, Charlottesville’s “Unite the Right” Rally, Monument “Wars”, DACA under constant threat, daily terror attacks claimed by ISIS worldwide, Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey, and the Nashville Statement was released. This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. All of this happened this month. Each day I woke up waiting to see another nugget of crazy or unexpected. All of the crazy began to feel normal.
Watching the threads on social media it dawned on me, the crazy is the new normal. Everyday everyone was posting something polarized on one side or the other and then going about their day as if it were nothing. They set it out and forgot it and their friends and their family and their friends of friends and friends of family and coworkers all begin to slowly view them a little differently. People excitedly declaring they are relieved to stop following at one time close friends. Declarations of “you have to be crazy to believe…” or “you can’t be a christian if …”.
Live loved and love the living
We have left actual human beings out of the equation. Information is consumed from mediums of strict like-mindedness, barely tested/reviewed, set out for everyone to see, and forgotten. There is so little consideration of other human beings reading these boxes of information that it is easy to forget who and how many can see what is written.
Christ reminded His disciples before His crucifixion, “They (the world) will know you by your love for one another” (John 13:35). The book of Romans reminds us:
“Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:8-11; emphasis added)
As a Christian, it pains me to see so few people loving others and lifting them up through this time. During the Charlottesville Violence many were touting racial insensitivity, while others were painfully aware that many of those touting were their family … friends … colleagues … I know I’m going to get messages or feedback that there are more than two sides to this story, and that is correct. My point is not to be exhaustive, but rather remind of the pain felt by those unseen on the other side of the computer screen.
With Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey displacing so many and destroying so much, it has been refreshing to see others jump to the needs of those impacted. In the middle of this, the Nashville Statement was released with declarations on LGBTQ and the Christian church. The timing was poor given the natural disaster in Texas. This also put an uncomfortable spotlight back on the church for being unfriendly to so many that are not straight, white, “put together” people. It is incredibly frustrating to see friends who are Christians and struggle to understand their same-sex attraction in light of the church. Yes, the church. Not the gospel. The Nashville Statement further pushes away from the church those who already felt distanced in the first place.
We have left actual human beings out of the equation
Sadly, it wasn’t until Charlottesville that I began to do a deep dive into personal beliefs and thoughts on specific choices in my life. “How did I end up at this church or why did I visit that one…?” So on and so forth. All specific to churches. One Sunday I felt deeply unsettled and began to pray very specific things. I looked up and realized … everyone here looks like me (white) and dresses like me (Sunday’s best) and sounds like me and likes what I like and had similar plans for the rest of the day … as the list grew and I began to feel even more unsettled.
It is easy and comfortable to be part of a homogenous group, but it isn’t until we step outside of this that we see a much truer, clearer picture of the gospel and of the heaven that awaits. The gospel was not created on pretty, thin, white sheets of paper. It was messy, it was communal, it was multi-cultural.
I’ve heard it said (many times) that Sunday is the most segregated day of the week in the south. In the south it seems so common that all children are taught “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).
While we cannot go back on what we have set out there and forgotten, we can ask forgiveness. We can love our neighbor as ourself as we move forward. We can, as Lysa Terkeurst puts it, we can “live loved” and love the living.
The gospel, the bible as a whole really, is filled with constant reminders that God is a God of the nations. He breaks cultural boundaries. He glides past religiosity and into the love of Christ. Christ died for the whole world. The. Whole. World. He died for every ethnicity. For every race. For every girl. For every boy. For everyone.
Salvation is free. Judgment is not.