More Disturbing News:
This morning – sitting in the kitchen with a mug of coffee and watching the light pour over the horizon – I’ve been thinking about writing a more topical column in response to the world news stage, where layer upon layer of disturbing events and dysfunctional personalities make me reticent to scan the headlines some days.
There’s so much to write about and talk about, but – even though I believe I have a lot to say – I really don’t want to be just another one of those “talking heads” on cable television, or one more cynic with a blog.
Then I remembered the conversation we had in my “Practical Christianity” class at WFPC Sunday morning. We are reading through Matthew’s gospel, and just started chapter 26, this week.
The scene was a dinner party, where a woman poured an alabaster jar of expensive perfume on Jesus. The disciples got bent out of shape about it and criticized the woman for her extravagant gesture.
Now when the disciples saw it they were angry and said, “Why this waste? This perfume could have been sold for a lot of money and given to the poor.”
But Jesus knew what they were thinking. He said, “Why do you make trouble for the woman? She’s done a good thing for me.” – Matthew 26:8-10
My friend Gayle pointed out that it doesn’t matter what’s going on, who’s commenting, or what subject is being covered, there’s always going to be a critic.
“You could even post a picture of a rescued puppy on Facebook,” she said, “and someone’s going to say, ‘Stop interfering! Why didn’t you let nature take its course?'”
She’s so right! Some people – many people – seem to live for the opportunity to criticize, or complain, or put other people down. I read an article about the Manchester bombings today where someone was referenced as ‘a professional troll.’ That’s right, there are people who make their livings at this!
We all agreed it’s a good thing the disciples didn’t have social media 2,000 years ago. They wouldn’t have been able to get off the comments section long enough to actually get on with the business of sharing the good news!
I love the way The Message paraphrases the Matthew 7 passage where Jesus addresses this very problem:
“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.” – Matthew 7:1-5
Yes, the world is a mess right now. Yes, I am deeply troubled by the moral bankruptcy of so much of the leadership in Washington. Yes, I see the hypocrisy. Yes, I worry about the way violence has become the de facto language of dissent in so many parts of the world. And, yes, I am mystified by the tone and the quality of much of the rhetoric I hear from those who seem to like to fan the flames.
But that doesn’t mean those of who know the power of light, and love, and peace, and grace should set all that aside and compromise our commitment to be the presence of Christ in all situations.
Instead, shouldn’t we simply carry light into the dark places, offer love where hate has taken hold, be peace in the midst of conflict, and cover the wrong with grace, mercy, hope, and promise?
Shouldn’t we simply carry light into the dark places, offer love where hate has taken hold, be peace in the midst of conflict, and cover the wrong with grace, mercy, hope, and promise?
Well, that’s what Jesus would do, and there’s no disputing the fact that we – as practicing Christians – are clearly called to follow in his way….
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I struggled on Saturday evening as I sat at my Twitter screen watching event unfold in London. So many angry folks called for people (like me) to “stop praying and actually do something.” I completely agree with you; we must try to be the light. So I guess the answer, as they say, is simple but not easy. Great post.
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Shine on, Julia…
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