God has recently confronted me with a very difficult truth. It has begun to shift the way I understand Him, myself, and how I interact with both Him and others. It has given me a great deal of freedom that had remained unrealized in my life.
It all comes down to a very serious case of spiritual hypocrisy. I couldn’t help but notice the political idolatry happening around me – instances where political commentary, rather than Scripture, was driving people’s lives and motivating their decisions in the Church. And guess what I did with that information! Other people’s idolatry of politics became my idol. Rather than politics itself being my idol, the way that others got distracted by politics became completely distracting to me (like a true idol-addict). I was losing sight of the beauty of God and hardening my heart to others because of their distractions. It’s the pot calling the kettle black, and I had perfected the art of calling out others’ sins while pretending that I was beyond potential to do the same.
In the hearts of those of us Christians (whether we like to admit it or not) who find ourselves far too preoccupied with the faults of others, catastrophism is an appealing vice. That is what draws us to media that demonizes ‘the other’ and friendships organized around venting about those we can’t understand.
According to the brand of catastrophism that is increasingly making its way into the Church, there is no mercy or grace given to the people we oppose, and we ask questions of those within our own group like “why aren’t you afraid enough by this threat!?” or “why don’t you understand the implications of what they are doing?” Instead of living like sheep among wolves (Matthew 10:16), we insist on being sure-headed wolves among “sheeple”.
I heard someone compare this tendency in our hearts to the story of Jesus sleeping in the boat in the midst of the storm (Mark 4:38-40). Once things became chaotic, the apostles were shocked that He was so dismissive of the threat. Do you, like me, see this tendency in yourself? They were upset with Him for sleeping during such a time as this. But once He awoke and so easily calmed the storm, He asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Instead of recognizing that God was sovereign over their circumstances and Jesus was not threatened in the least by even the most terrifying of situations, the apostles doubted and fell into anxiety and fear. I believe this is the tendency that many of us (myself most of all) struggle under the weight of. We forget that He and His Bride, the Church, are not threatened by anything the world could ever produce.
Do you remember the story of Peter walking on the water (Matthew 14:22-33)? Peter wanted to experience the power of God that would miraculously carry Him to Jesus’s side, but instead, He was distracted by the danger of the waves, lost trust that Jesus was in control, and began to sink into the chaos. Could it be that we sink under the weight of the distractions of the world when we’re so concerned with other’s views or become catastrophists ourselves ? Could it be that we lose sight of the power of God because of our fear and forget to keep our gaze set simply on where Jesus stands?
We’re not called to address everyone else’s issues at every turn. We’re called by Jesus to exist with Him, according to John 15:1-27. And even as we have opportunities to speak His truth peaceably, respectfully, and humbly to lies and difficult circumstances around us, we must know that it’s done through compassionate pleas to see God clearly, not as self-defense.
In that vein, I pray that I and we will always follow a growth path towards looking more like our Savior who hung on a cross as the only innocent Man, and pleaded that God would forgive those who abused Him because they did not know what they were doing (Luke 23:34), rather than settle into the stance of Peter who fought back in self-defense and severed the servant’s ear in the garden (John 18:10-11). May my heart break at that attitude within myself because it only leads to Jesus going to work to heal the wounds that I, myself, have inflicted (Luke 22:50-51).
Love you all,
Young Adult Minister – Evan McNeff