“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult, and left untried.” – G.K.Chesterton
Today I watched the news. Yesterday I watched the news. Tomorrow I will watch the news. I’ll go to Facebook and read a multitude of funny statuses, I’ll watch a viral video of a dog refusing to get into a bath, or see a photo of the sunset that someone took with their camera while relaxing on a deck, cup filled with rum and coke. I’ll see Christmas celebrations, political cartoons, and someone will post about having a cold. I’ll know that the flu is going around, and that my old coworker had a date last night. I’ll see that over 100 children were mercilessly slaughtered in Pakistan so that the gunmen who took their lives without care could earn paradise and virgins after death, and below that, I’ll find a recipe for a Christmas cookie that is sure to blow the minds of all the guests at my next Christmas party. On Instagram I’ll see what Amy made for dinner, and what Jason’s new sunglasses look like. I’ll know that with only 3 ingredients I can make a cake in a mug that is sure to curb my craving for sweets, and I’ll know that JcPenney’s is selling the most adorable scarves. Somewhere in this mix I’ll see the casket of a soldier pulled off a plane, while a wife drapes herself over a flag, and if I scroll further down I’ll find that weight loss photo from Christy, and she’ll tell us the secrets to her success. On Twitter I’ll be told that the Government is warning against eating raw cookie dough, and that kids are unhappy with school lunches. I’ll learn that 4 little boys were beheaded by terrorists, and that the chemicals in my hand soap could lead to cancer. I’ll find that I can lose 5 pounds in a month if I drink 2 liters of water every day, and that my state may run out of salt for the roads. I’ll scroll past the face of someone killed on the street, and I’ll click on a link that shows us what a child would look like if her parents were Tom Hiddleston and Jennifer Aniston. I’ll take a test to see what color my personality is, and behind the little pop-up containing my questions I’ll see the number of women and children who are trapped like animals in the sex trade industry. I’ll go to a Christian Christmas celebration and I’ll listen to women and men discuss cookies, their children, and how good God is to them, and in the time it takes them to tell me how God has blessed their family, where their daughter goes to school, and how they like to spend their weekends, a child’s life will be obliterated in a womb somewhere in my own country, a daughter, maybe my age, will be raped in the Middle East because she is a sex slave, or maybe a young black man in Chicago will be killed, and I’ll never learn their names.
“Is life not full of opportunities for learning love? Every man and woman every day has a thousand of them. The world is not a playground; it is a schoolroom. Life is not a holiday, but an education. And the one eternal lesson for us all is how better we can love.” – Henry Drummond
I’ve spent more time than I’d like to admit scrolling through the void and the empty. I enjoy moments of light hearted discussion, funny statuses, and the levity of everyday life. My family laughs, we laugh all the time, and I’m thankful for this gift, but as I look around this world as 2014 comes to an end, I see so much pain, and I see Christians sitting on the sidelines, or in many cases, just adding to the pain. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying life and the blessings we have been granted, but in our happiness, our heart must break for those mourning. I read a story about a girl who was burned alive, and the world was sickened. Days later we find that she dated a gang member, and the sickened responses changed into opinions of responsibility on her part for dating a gang member. She may have been hanging around the wrong crowd, but is her life somehow less valuable because of such a choice? It’s as though upon learning who her friends were will make her bed less empty, or her parents less broken. Is she less worthy of a post on your wall because of her dating history? I just keep asking myself, “when will we care again?” When will we begin to see the life behind the story? When will we shake with revolt at injustice? When will we see an unborn child, and not a problem? When will we see a daughter, and not a statistic? When will we see a father, and not some aged criminal selling loose cigarettes? When will we see people as Christ sees them? When will we see a son, and not a gang member? When will we see a child desperately wanted by God, and not just a recruited 8 year-old in the Middle East wielding a gun? In the same way that the left should see a brother, and not just a soldier. A father, and not just an ambassador that became collateral damage. A son, and not just a border patrol agent who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
That’s not to say that justice should not be served. We can seek justice, and still feel heartbreak when it is fulfilled. When we no longer feel heartbreak, we are the ones in need of the heavy hand of justice. I see jokes online about human life that was lost and it makes me angry, I see people that try to belittle a life so that they can bolster another person or sell a t-shirt, and it makes me angry. I see people disregarding human life and then posting a bible verse, and I honestly don’t know what to say.
My prayer is that in 2015 we find a way back to who we are as Christians. That we find value in every life, or what that life could have been in a better world, even if that life is lost in a justifiable manner. I pray that we see that each life, regardless of what they wear, where they live, and what crimes they have committed, was formed by our creator. While their end may be justified, our response is not. Evil will always exist, but we can stop feeding it by allowing ourselves to be desensitized, we can stop feeding it by taming our egos, we can stop feeding it by ending our hunger for power. That doesn’t mean we let injustice go without punishment, it means that we enter all debates facing our country with a heart that desperately wishes that life was not lost, if we did so, jokes would be out of the question. A human life is not a punchline or a one-liner for our t-shirt. That doesn’t mean that we can’t share our favorite recipes on Facebook, but it does mean that we should stop and reflect on the pain and ask ourselves what we can do to help. How can I be a voice for this woman, man, or child. How can I attribute value to this life before I scroll down to see the cartoon my friend posted? How can I look at this from a different perspective? It means starting the base of your opinion first on what Christ would be concerned with, the life, and build our opinions from there, not on our preferred hero, or our assigned winner. Always remembering that a life with a future, a life that could have been lived for Him, a life that He found value in, was lost.
“Truth demands confrontation; loving confrontation, but confrontation nevertheless.” – Francis Schaeffer
Basically, Christians, we can do better. We can love better. We can be better at being His face to the world, and that might mean giving up your fandom, it might mean losing likes on Facebook. Last week it hit me that I can get a multitude of likes for a one-liner about Hillary Clinton, while a status about Eric Garner or beheaded children in the Middle East goes unnoticed. We can do better than that. It doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy statuses about Hillary, it just means that we shouldn’t shield ourselves from something that we don’t want to hear or read. It means that degrading a life, or ignoring an injustice because you don’t have a partiality towards the victim, can’t be fixed by a status about your blessings, and a bible verse that serves as no more than a cherry on top of your blessed sundae.
Merry Christmas, and may your Holiday be filled with the warmth and love of a God that sees worth in all of His creations. May our hearts be molded to be more like His, and less like the world’s. May we see people through His eyes, void of labels. May our hearts break for what breaks His.
“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.” – Winston Churchill