“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?” Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Do a deed of simple kindness; though its end you may not see, it may reach, like widening ripples, down a long eternity.” Joseph Norris
If you’re like me, you’re feeling very overwhelmed by what is happening in our world. It’s a lot, isn’t it?
Here’s the thing, though. It is killing me to see so much disunity and dissension as I scroll through my newsfeed on Social Media, as well as overhearing racist and hateful, slanderous comments made flippantly in private and public arenas. My heart actually aches badly when I hear this stuff. I can see our nation engaging in self-injurious behavior, acting out of feelings of pain, despair, and anguish. I can see Christians losing faith, hope, and trust in the promises of God. I do not want to be another Christian who bashes Christians for not being “Christian”… because that is worthless, mean, ironic, shaming, and counter-productive. I will, however, encourage all of us re-examine what it means to be “imitators or Christ” (Ephesians 5:1-2).
We seem to be at war with one another, engaged in what I would call “cyber civil war.” We use our voices to engage in conflict and disagreement in the most inappropriate ways that are causing great pain. Maybe our nation has always been this way, and the evidence of her disunity is heightened and intensified during seasons of blatant global tragedy and bloodshed. I just always thought that these were the events that brought us closer together.
We are all very important, but the likelihood of our voice immediately reaching the global ear with our angry, militant Facebook post is probably unlikely. This may happen for some, but for the majority of us- our influence is much smaller and closer. Most of us only have a few friends, coworkers, a small group and close family who are influenced by our thoughts, circumstances, opinions, and behaviors. What I am saying is that our lives most certainly have a ripple effect. We all need to stop, take a step back, and figure out what our individual roles and duties are in bringing greater unity and love into our specific spheres of influence. They may be small and seem inconsequential, but they are important and can have a big impact. Our goal needs to be reaching those who we are actually engaged in daily life with!
I really love this quote from a fellow blogger, J.S. Park: “I don’t want to know what you stand against. To stand on the anti-ground is to stand on nothing, for nothing, loudly. I want to know where we’re going and what we’re really about.”
I wish I would’ve written these words, because this is all I can think about the past month or so. I am personally sick of hearing what you stand against… and I would venture to guess that I am not the only one. What are we doing here, guys? Where are we headed? By choosing to make intense declarations about the “enemy” and boast from the “anti-ground” is to contribute to tearing apart what’s left of our unity in this country. To focus on the forces and groups of people who are intentionally seeking to steal, kill, and destroy us and our families is to lend them greater power. Why can’t we grasp that in our families, communities, and as a nation? Those who are hurting don’t benefit from hearing about what you’re standing against, they profit only from your genuine words of compassion and healing.
J.S. Park goes on to share more statements that my heart deeply resonates with:
“Most of us today are overreacting. We react solely from our deepest hurts: which is not wrong, but not sustainable.
“I can’t stop weeping over our divisiveness. I grieve for unity.”
And this powerful statement:
“Injustice requires our outrage and compassion. Outrage for the wound, compassion for the wounded. We do both.”
I feel myself reacting from hurt. I grieve for unity. I am outraged. I must demonstrate compassion.
Social Media is a platform that we are privileged, not entitled to… and there are a lot of people who are drastically misusing it. If we all continue using our realms of influence in a defensive, unfriendly, and threatening way, we will miss so many opportunities to love those around us. Psalm 133:1 says, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity.” Maybe I am totally missing it. Am I wrong in thinking that we could actually dwell in respectful unity and acceptance, together. Am I being ignorant? Here are some very real questions I have been asking myself and would love to better understand the root of:
- Isn’t it possible to love and accept someone, even if we hate the behavior that they are engaged in?
- Is it wise or beneficial to let everyone on Social Media know that you have guns in your house/strapped to your leg?
- What is the point of slandering, berating, and tongue-lashing the President? Does this contribute to justice?
- Why do people share videos, content, and images that are horrific, graphic, and traumatic on their Facebook?
- Why don’t people understand that when they share content that is grossly inconsistent (i.e. encouraging, life-giving scripture & foul, grotesque, malicious political slanderings) that they lose mass quantities of credibility and influence?
- When you share an “opinion” about your feelings towards different people groups you find to be offensive, aren’t you spreading greater awareness of that very group? And when these groups use fear and death as a method for intimidation and control, aren’t you using the same methods as they are when you share that content?
- Isn’t there a difference between self-protection and vicious revenge? Does an “eye for an eye” mentality make us a better person, spouse, parent, or citizen? Is there any real comfort in vengeance?
Let’s decide together to stop promoting what we are against and chose to seek unity by participating in the sharing of content that brings hope, demonstrates compassion, and offers healing. Especially as we go into Thanksgiving, reflect on Dr. Martin Luther King’s quote that opens this blog:
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?”
Ask yourself… am I, daily:
Healing physical pain and injury?
Helping those less fortunate to access resources and environments to thrive?
Promoting holistic healing, sacrificing your life for peace and justice?
Leading others into deeper relationship with Jesus?
Nurturing and instructing children?
Showing others what love looks like?
Promoting an appreciation for beauty?
These are just a few suggestions, but they all require that we “put on” love and compassion, instead of wearing garments of fear, resentment, and intimidation.
Colossians 3:12 (MSG) “So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. 13 Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. 14 And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. 15 Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. 16 Let the Word of Christ – the Message – have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! 17 Let every detail in your lives -words, actions, whatever – be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.”