My wife and I recently subscribed to Texture, an app that permits us to read about 150 magazines a month (not that we read all of them, of course). In the app you can scroll through the covers of magazines to see what you might want to read.
The covers suggest the news is bad right now.
There is the general: faster, fitter, leaner, smarter, tidier, better you, covers that are always there and always a little bit irksome.
There are the: better car, better home, better wife, better life, covers that make me sad for those seeking such thing and especially for those who believe a hastily written magazine article paid by the word is going to resolve one of their most fundamental issues.
Then there are the: Donald Trump is president YAY FOR US! Covers (these are somewhat rare but still worrisome.
There are the: Donald Trump is president WTF??? What are we gonna do now that the sky is falling? Covers, that don’t really lead to any meaningful action of clarity.
How Am I to live amongst all this?
How can I have a conversation of air and light and grace about the serious issues faced by our society today?
In short, I can’t.
Maybe it’s just me, but I seem to put my foot in my mouth constantly, saying things more harshly than I mean them. This happens so much so that even to ask a question is perceived as a rude, demanding, condescending, un-called for affront.
How to be involved when the statement “sometimes a question is just a question” is considerable unbelievable?
How do we converse when any question is understood as an attack?
I know that I must remain involved, Jesus tells me that much. See, I don’t side with those who would have us fight the culture or ignore/abandon it. No, we are part of it and what’s more, the bible demands we do what we can to remain a part of it:
This means that as a Christ follower I need to try to show people the way as I understand it. I cannot abide off on the sidelines nor pretend like my faith has nothing to do with my public life or in the public sphere. No, like most religions (secularism included, but that’s a deeper more philosophically complex argument for another time) simply doesn’t recognize such a split as possible, even if I may at times think it desirable.
Some very clever and very good writers are capable of telling truths to folks and being heard. Sometimes I am among them. More often I am not.
It is a hard truth for a preacher to look out into the landscape and be at an utter loss for words.
It is a hard truth for a proclaimer of Jesus to not know how to convey the message that everyone has dignity, everyone deserves to live in hope, and the this can be our reality.
For now I think we must take the risk of looking like we value works over faith, if just for a period of time, so that the messages can be heard. Our actions need to speak louder than words and their noise must be louder than the the magazine covers, they must be more real, more immediate, more compelling, than violence, hate, bigotry and fear. The narrative we live out matters a lot, and never more than now.
There is a biblical call for us to live out our faith in tangible ways, loving the orphan and widow, honouring and welcoming the stranger…
It isn’t a call to judge one another based on our ability to live it out.
It isn’t a call to earn salvation.
If pointing to the good works being done was good enough for Jesus it must be good enough for his church.
Unless his church isn’t doing any good works, but that’s another conversation.
For now I would call out to our church to seek out ways to live the kingdom of God boldly. Live peacefully. Show one another dignity. Hold to the Gospel. Trust in the One True King.
To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (Jude 1: 24-25)