Touch it and die, Pastor!
That’s how it feels with the current state of the nation. If I was to give a “state of the union” address I’d have to say there’s not a whole lot of “union” going on. No matter what I say I’ll make enemies.
You probably have some strong opinions about the events from earlier this week.
- The Super Bowl halftime show
- The State of the Union address
- The Senate’s vote on the impeachment trial of the President.
Any one of these three could have agitated the population by themselves. Together it’s like a witch’s brew of public poison. We’re gulping it down by the gallon and blaming the other side for making us sick.
The safe thing to do is keep my head down and my mouth shut. Oh, and stay off social media. But I’m not afforded that luxury as a pastor. (I mean I CAN stay off social media, but that’s not likely to happen.) Because while all the vitriol is being slung around, the people I’m called to pastor are being wounded. Those inside the church, and those outside. People like you. Wounded by the demeaning and dehumanizing words of others. Wounded by the nurturing of old grievances. Wounded by believing the lie that the real enemy is another person instead of the Enemy of God. Wounded by gossip and half-truths. And it grieves me. And it grieves the God who made us all. And to keep my head down and my mouth shut feels like malpractice.
The gospel is good news, but in times like this we’re capable of forgetting it. The good news gets lost, which may be an indication that we’ve lost sight of what makes it good. We’re capable of turning on one another and acting out of fear and anger. All the while, we’re called to be the ambassadors of reconciliation. We’re restored in order to reconcile people to God, and to one another.
Some may read this and think, “Pastor, you’re out to lunch. These are important discussions in our nation. They impact our safety, our personhood, our morals, even our country.” I’m fully aware of the significance of these discussions. But I’m also aware of the toll they take on real people.
- When the followers of Jesus can’t worship together because they hold different views on what is or is not appropriate entertainment, that’s a problem. Maybe it’s our culture we’re worshipping more than our Creator.
- When Christians on opposite sides of the political aisle resort to name-calling and shade-throwing instead of pursuing the hard work of reconciliation, that’s a problem. Maybe our first allegiance is to our nation instead of our Savior.
- When you begin to unfriend and unfollow brothers and sisters in Christ on social media because their feed is so annoying, that’s a problem. Maybe our view of the Body of Christ is that all the parts should look and work the same, instead of the diversity we find in the New Testament.
This is exactly the kind of situation that calls for a radical new type of community, a community of Jesus followers, who are not followers in name only, but with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. This is exactly the kind of situation in which wounded and discouraged people all around us are looking for someone to bring good news, to bring a message of hope. This is a situation that screams out for the HOPE of Christ.
I don’t know what Jesus would say about the Super Bowl halftime, or the SOTU address, or the Senate’s vote to acquit. I have some ideas, based on what he has already said about grace, and love and justice and hypocrisy. But I do know that he was very clear about how his followers were to live:
- Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.
- Love your neighbor as yourself.
If those inside the church and outside are not seeing the good news of Jesus lived out in his followers, then we’re not doing the love thing very well. As Paul put it:
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. (1 Corinthians 13:1)
Is the sound of your life more like gong/cymbal? Or is it like the sound of hope to a wounded world? Are we, the followers of Jesus, the bearers of good news?
Now excuse me while I go look for my asbestos suit. 😊