Social, political, and governmental unrest seem to be on full display in 2020. Week after week, the problems continue to grow, and everyone’s reason for being outraged becomes more valid. As I continue to hear about the ongoing disasters and turmoil that seem to mark the year 2020, I’m left without words.
In 2020, there are moments when I just feel downright discouraged and exhausted. My soul is tired. But it’s also during this time that I’ve become hyper aware of the fact that my Christian witness hinges on how I respond to everything around me–both in word and in action.
When people look at me, I want Christians and non-Christians alike to see a heart after Jesus rather than my human flesh full of outrage. The task seems harder with each passing day.
The temptation to open my mouth and speak angry, vile words against certain leaders is strong. I want to sit back from the comfort of my own living room, scrolling on my phone, tapping story after story, and then ranting aloud to my husband how ridiculous someone’s decision is. We’re all doing it in some form or another. There’s a lot to be mad about right now. There are a lot of topics to form a strong opinion about.
But the problem is that we can get so lost in the angle of the story that we forget that we’re called to be living ambassadors of Jesus, rather than ourselves. And even as individuals who feel so far removed from the major decisions being made by people in places of leadership, we have a role to play.
We have to take ownership for ourselves and the way we choose to live in the midst of disaster. We are not without blame.
What I find most troubling is that many of us are unknowingly flaming the fires of disaster. Instead of being people who are set apart as Jesus has called, we’ve become people who are fully entrenched in perpetuating negativity and chaos in the midst of disaster.
Here are three ways you might unknowingly be part of the problem in 2020.
1. You are spending more time taking in the media, rather than the word of God.
For the first time in many weeks, I carved out some time to read the bible. I’m deeply ashamed to admit that, but it’s the honest truth.
I read through a chapter in Isaiah and it was talking about the many ways Israel had blatantly disregarded God’s word. There were wars raging, the rich taking advantage of the poor, public figures leading people astray, and family members turning against one another for their own gain. It all sounded a little too familiar. Of course, Isaiah was writing about Israel. But what a sobering reminder that humanity hasn’t changed as much as we think.
We’re current enduring the same type of disaster at the hands of fellow humans. The author of the study I was reading, Alec Motyer, made such a poignant statement.
“National, political, social, and governmental disasters and misdemeanors can all be traced to this one source: the word of God has been sidelined.”
Motyer wasn’t making this point towards the national leaders of the day. He was making this point towards the individuals who make up society as a whole.
Our obedience and devotion to God matters. When you and I begin to spend more time consuming the word of God than we do other media, we are contributing to the good of our society and our country.
The way we live our lives on the day to day has ripple effects on the society and culture we want to see. If you’re continuing to consume media stories for hours on end and then discussing those stories at length, it’s very likely that your mind is being shaped by disaster and turmoil rather than by the hope of Jesus.
I’m not suggesting you live under a rock and become completely oblivious to what’s happening in the world. But I am suggesting that it shouldn’t be what consumes you.
Before you think that this is not you and that you don’t take in that much media a day, I encourage you to take inventory. Take one day to account for how much time you spend reading media of any kind, and measure that against how much time you spend in the word of God.
If you're continuing to consume media stories for hours on end and then discussing those stories at length, it's very likely that your mind is being shaped by disaster and turmoil rather than by the hope of Jesus. Click To Tweet
2. You speak negatively about the leaders and people groups making decisions.
The bible is very clear about the power of the tongue and the kind of havoc it will wreak when used carelessly. It can be the most destructive member of the human body.
We all know the words we say matter, but we don’t pay too much attention to those when we are speaking about people we will never meet or come in contact with. For some reason, we feel no sense of shame when it comes to badmouthing a public figure. In fact, we call this freedom of speech. We’re proud to exercise our first amendment right.
And yet, the bible says we should let our conversations be full of grace. As we talk to people about leaders and public figures, our words should be seasoned with grace. It’s not always for the benefit of the person you’re talking about, but for the person you are talking to. As a Christian you are to be an ambassador for Christ. Your words and actions should represent Jesus.
You don’t have to agree with every decision a person in leadership makes. But you should err on the side of caution when sharing your opinion and thoughts of disapproval. It’s far more likely that you will represent the heart of Jesus by not openly giving your opinion that doesn’t help bring forth change anyways.
3. You pick and choose which issues are important to you.
There’s a lot happening this year. And for many of us, it’s incredibly overwhelming. I’ll be the first one to admit that it’s a lot to process and it’s far easier to be ignorant. But when we do that, we fall into the trap of being selective about what’s important and what isn’t.
This year has exposed many shortcomings in our society, as well as the darkness in many individuals’ hearts. And we can’t turn a blind eye to some and rally the troops for others.
Unfortunately, the way we usually choose what’s important and unimportant isn’t so much based on what Jesus cares about. Rather it’s what matters in our personal lives. It becomes far more about us and our own gain, instead of what issues really need to be addressed. And just like in the days of Isaiah, we’re dealing with large scale social, political, and governmental issues.
All of these areas are flawed in major ways. But each one of them matter in different ways. Our response shouldn’t be outrage. It should be to pray for God to open our eyes and use as to display his will in each of these areas. Our opinions on all of these issues shouldn’t be dictated by our own preferences. We need to be mindful of our own flesh and pray for the Spirit to guide our hearts, minds, and responses.
Turning a blind eye towards injustice has never been the way of Jesus. His way is always to extend love, grace, and truth towards others. Not to sit back and watch evil unfold, but to step in and be part of seeing restoration in these areas. Jesus has put us in this world for his glory and that looks a lot more like caring for other people than it does caring for ourselves.
If you find yourself disregarding certain issues of today because they don’t personally affect you while being outraged by those that do, then it’s very likely you’re perpetuating the problem.
Don’t fan the flames of disaster.
There’s no doubt that we are living in contentious times. Trying to navigate everything that’s is going on isn’t easy, but we don’t have to rely on our own wisdom. Not only do we have the very words of God to help guide us we also have the Holy Spirit.
This year is going to be one we all remember. I pray the Church is remembered for the ways it so graciously stepped into the mess, rather than the way it fanned the flames of disaster.