While much of the news and social media feeds is consumed with thoughts on bad movies, yoga pants and Speedos, the fact of the matter ought to go all the way back to the simple question of why. Why do we flame others over their thoughts and opinions? Why do we care? And maybe we can jump to “how did they arrive at that thought” or conclusion.
For the most part, life occurs in slices, incrementally with no major issues entering in. I get there is the occasional disaster or trauma, perhaps a death or relationship breakup. (With 6 billion plus people in the world, things do happen. Not everyone is saved, safe or careful.) Occasionally… That may well be the key word or definer of those types of incidents. But for the majority of life, it moves by bits and pieces. Slowly.
A child that continues to taunt a dog, cat or pet, is most likely going to be bitten or scratched. Continue to do something wrong or bad and you can end up hurt, pained or possibly even dead. I even understand my safe endeavor (For instance, rock climbing.)may not be your safety area. A divorce does not happen overnight. An arrest over drugs to fuel an addiction did not start yesterday. All these things usually occur over time.
The more I see new laws tabled to prevent, rules to protect; I wonder if we have left our brains at the table. I am not addressing laws that are there to protect children because clearly they are not in the know, have not gathered wisdom and should be protected. I am addressing what many call “nanny” laws or rules. (I remember the 10 Commandments. The greatest commandment. I am not saying there were not or ought not be.) I am talking about the sheer volume by number and the ludicrous statements of such laws. I realize that rules and even laws come from people who may have experienced pain, injury or the death of a friend or family member. Fueled by a desire of goodness. But a lot of them come from people who do not want to do the “heavy” lifting. (Or may well get paid foolishly for frequently being foolish.) They are like a parent that has so many rules that a child may as well stay in their room.(and probably do!) Come on. Are you kidding? The fact that one believes a law for clothing restrictions needs to be passed indicates a society that needs Jesus. (Lest you forget He did life with folks.)
A law telling you what to wear? (Did Shariah law pass while I slept?) A law telling you a cup has to say “hot” if it has hot coffee? A rule for this and rule for that?
Laws and rules are being made to compensate for the lack of living life together in family and community. What if that parent did life with that child? Not simply isolation and punishment? (Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying don’t discipline. BUT I am saying left to their own devices, and yes that could mean electronic devices! Problems will arise! The lack of a parent being around is perhaps the number one reason for the deficits we see in our society today. I totally understand. I am the child of the permissive society era.)
What I find is that we have moved away from what many of us might call basics. Where do we begin? Parents, children, family is a good place to start. Personal responsibility was a biggie. Remember Smokey?
“Only you can prevent forest fires!” (That has been changed, by the way. Now it is wildfires. So does that mean you can not prevent “tame fires” or you are not responsible unless they get big?)When I was a child, parents, teachers and fire departments taught us about matches (They still have those right?)and pouring water on camp fires and such. (Stir until cold.) Scouting organizations undergirded the message. Go to a campground and there was the sign. The forest ranger would tell you as he handed you your camp permit. You were taught to be a disciple of Smokey The Bear. Did we start fires. Of course we did! But meeting a young man who threw a match in a can of gas and was missing half his face was inspiration to me to better behave. And I was luckier than a friend who torched 15 acres of his parents farmland. Or my other friend who lit a small pile of wood on fire with gasoline, only to have a burning rodent head into the barn… Now we see parents give kids video games depicting fire and mayhem with no preparation. Great grid for growing grownups…NOT!
As my folks used to say, you jump over the fire and burn your butt, you wear the blister.
Why bring all this up? Because I truly believe in the church we must get back to the cornerstone of our faith and the practice of life and life together. We must live out our faith on more than the two hours on a Sunday. We must embrace family. The practice of “disposable” family is devastating. We must grab hold of our community.
Otherwise we all lose.
My oldest grandchildren have no dad in their lives. The choice for them to not see their sons and daughter are painful for me, but they are potentially devastating for the children. A 14 year old boy with no role model or someone to throw a ball. (Makes me want to throttle someone… Actions have consequences… So I won’t!)An 11 year old girl with no dad to call her his princess. A 7 year old boy who wants to hunt and to fish. I get it. Before Christ I was not perfect. But, it does not make it right.
In the church perhaps we need to look inside and say “what can we do?” Not out of guilt or shame but out of understanding the scriptures were given to love, to instruct, to help one change course. James 1:27 might be a powerful verse to view. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Are we willing to get in there and help? To make disciples? To disciple a man or a woman in love, instructing them in the ways of Jesus, will lead to responsible citizens not just of the Kingdom but of the world. Other wise the lies continue on.
What if we don’t? Here is a good reason.
Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. They date. You probably are aware that most dating is like theater. Theater that only reveals what is shown on “stage” never depicting the heartaches of the makeup room. Or the pain of family interfering. Theater. Do you want to know someone? Go to their home and find out how they treat their mom or their dad. How they respect older siblings or aid younger ones. Behind the makeup, behind the dress-up. What are they like? Maybe they end up sleeping together and now they have repeated what they may have seen modeled. Maybe they end up with kids and find out life is no longer makeup and dressing up. Hmmm…
I do not care how well you play sports or video games if your family suffers. I do not care how well one preaches or teaches. Show me their family. Character is NOT depicted in one hour on stage or in a coffee shop “oohing and ahhing”.It is what is running deep in life. How many men did I not let preach in our fellowship over the years? Or not let minister because the question of “where is your wife” could not be answered. (Not talking about divorce though that can be very relevant.)Why does she not travel? Perhaps it was me advising a young person to run. Fast!
I want to look you in your eyes and know your heart. Your ups, your downs. How you handle it. I want the same for my kids. For my grandkids. I want life.
If you are a young man or woman looking to bring that special someone in to your life, share them with your friends. Oh you won’t? Why not? I met my children’s spouses. I looked them in the eye. I did not grill them. I wanted to know how they did life. Because after the Starbucks you have to go home!
Incrementally we live life. We do not get to where we are without steps. Without mistakes and successes. With errors and corrections. The greatest gift Jesus gave after salvation was not what to think but how to think. Empowered by the living One inside. That is what we are to share. Christ formed in you! Even in the trauma how will we do? What will we do? Will we give up or will we go on?
I am not looking for more rules. Neither is Jesus. He is looking for those who love. Who live life together. A life that is fitly joined together. (As a spiritual father once said to me, “sometimes with bulldozers and dynamite.”)
So, let’s forget about flaming others over their belief. Let’s dig in and make the world a better place. It belongs to us. To see heaven here on earth is the Father’s heart. Ought it not be ours?