Recently, I was reminded that the people with the biggest, or at least loudest opinions about church and how things should go are usually people that are least vested, or do not have a lot of “skin in the game” as the saying goes. Many times people who make a suggestion about something we should do or have as a church, find out we either have it already, or do not have it because of a specific reason. Some people are willing to offer opinions quickly without asking the good questions up front, and find out the thinking that went into what is done or not done. All three church leadership teams we have been part of are made of people that definitely want input and critique especially suggestions or thoughts that are coming out of a person’s passion and drive, not just because they always did something at their last church, or this church.
I was getting frustrated because a situation arose recently where an individual that is habitually doing this, but is not very vested, started to get my dander up. That is when God in His loving way took me to a mirror and showed me how this plays out in my own life, and how I handle many things in that same way. Of course mine is different, I passionately share because I care, and want to see change.
God turned the light up in that darker space with questioning me if maybe this is exactly what I do with high emotion topics in the news and in the world. Aren’t I quick to share the petition, or the article about injustice, which is good, but then what? What do I do that works toward change? Are these topics I am willing to get better educated about and jump in to help make a difference, or am I just addicted to outrage like many others, but I call mine altruistic? Am I really on the side of justice? Or am I jumping into conversations that I am not really part of? If I am not moved to go further than clicking a button on social media, how am I different than the people at church who make the phone call to say why don’t we do this or that, but are not really part of the community? Or express outrage over a perceived activity or attitude that does not exist and they would know if they had just asked.
Today as I start this post, it is Martin Luther King Jr Day. There are tons of great quotes from him being shared on social media, many by me. One that was shared from Eugene Chou went along with where I felt the Holy Spirit leading and convicting me.
Don’t reduce MLK to an annual quote on social media. Live out the dream.
Seek first the Kingdom of God.
Be a truth-teller.
Love your neighbors.
Forgive your enemies.
Live a committed life of peace, love, and justice.
I was reminded of his book Overrated: Are We More in Love with the Idea of Changing the World than Actually Changing the World. I read this awhile ago and was convicted to change. I did become slower in sharing stuff on social media, and tried to educate myself on some topics that resonated with my heart for action instead of just outrage. In Unoffendable Brant Hansen states, “Anger is extraordinarily easy. It’s our default setting. Love is very difficult. Love is a miracle.” He goes on and speaks about how we feel we need “righteous” anger to move us to action but he argues that we should not need anger to fuel us. We have God’s love and heart that should move us against injustice.
So I continue to ponder this and ask God to shed more light on where I am jumping in like a fan in the stands yelling at the coach or the players and telling them what to do when I have no skin in the game. Which ones I am not offering anything useful or willing to lose anything in the conversation? What conversations are mine to join? Which ones am I supposed to stop being a sideline fan of, and jump into the action? How do I participate in those that I am not fully vested in, but still want to see justice and mercy in them?
This is where I find myself this week of focused attention on social media of many grave injustices towards humanity, but instead of adding to the din, I want to pray and ask God to show me what my role is in each one, and what it is not. I am reminded right off that I am to listen to Jesus as He answers, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) In James 1:27 we are given a deeper clue of God’s heart and desire for us, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” So I sit with these questions and wait to find out what that looks like for this season of my life and the world’s, in the mean time practicing loving those that cross my path on a daily basis, and trying not to allow myself to inhale and exhale the polluted thoughts of outrage.