are inundated with loud voices clamoring for emotional reactions. In
contrast, followers of Jesus are invited to hear the voice of the Good
Shepherd and choose loving obedience. Let’s take time to still our
hearts, listen deeply, and love wisely.
do not live in the best or worst of times…but in the most
instantaneous information moment of history. Our conflicts are not new,
but much more immediate and our responses are often unreflective. We can
shun vulgarity. We can choose intercession for those who disagree. And
we can recognize that power itself is an addiction affecting every part
of the political spectrum.
often sparks revival in persons and communities. Without pretending
about our real pain or excusing transgression, what if we let go of the
rap sheet that we keep against ourselves and others and truly forgive?
And when we bless those who frustrate us most, we are liberated, and a
new future opens to us.
antidote for our epidemic and anger: In the spirit of St. Francis of
Assisi, we can meet every insult with blessing, every denial of truth
with love and truth, arrogance with humility, and intolerance with civil
discourse. And let’s respond to emotionalism and incipient Orwellian
controls with careful thought and affirmation of liberty rooted in
virtue. Systemic issues of class, gender, and race must be exposed…and
overcome with love, relationships, and wisdom. Protest is one
step…and practical, sacrificial action for others moves our vision of
shalom forward. This is more than being nice and it is not passive.
Living in the opposite spirit of our age of insults and vulgarity is a
courageous spiritual posture.
A sense of justice is hard-wired into the human
psyche. Without training, a three-year-old will say, “Unfair!” We are
rightly outraged at abuse, prejudice, and violence. But what about the
more daily, subtle ways unfairness comes into our lives?
colleague and I sat down with a leader and shared some of our creative
thinking for a new product. We were met with condescension and kindness
and the meeting ended well. A year later, we discovered that our ideas
had been rebranded, and met with public favor!
first responses were incredulity, anger, and resignation. It was
maddening to see another get credit and our efforts be ignored. We both
thought, “Self-denial is hard when he advances, and we are ignored.”
is frustrating when others are celebrated, and we feel unheard and
unseen. Our first reactions are not yet sins. The next moments determine
whether we wallow in self-pity or cultivate godly character. When
unfairness happens, our hidden religiosity comes to the surface.
insights help us endure these moments. First, remembering God’s mercy
in our lives helps us extend grace when life is unfair (Rom. 12:9-21).
Second, we ultimately work for One Master, who will reward more lavishly
that human leaders (Col. 3:17-25). Finally, God uses these moments for
our transformation (Rom. 8:28-39).
will be unfair. But we can turn our circumstances into character
development and wisdom. We do not celebrate victimhood; however, we can
refuse to wallow in commiseration and chose the high road of
North American Christianity needs a baptism of tears.
Instead of polarized invective that tears up apart, we need the tears of divine empathy to unite our hearts. The God of the Bible weeps and laughs, grieves deeply and dances with joy (Jeremiah 8-9; Zeph. 3; Luke 10, 19). Imagine our conversations with God and each other if we experience a baptism of tears:
We will weep deeply as we confront the racism and shed joyful tears as forgiveness triumphs over retaliation. We will weep, hearing the cries of creation as humans despoil the earth and we will cry aloud with delight as gospel hope inspires ecological healing.
We weep in intercession for our neighbors lost without Christ and shed tears of joy as converts are baptized and prodigals discover Abba Almighty waiting for them.
We will weep when a sister or brother suffers and find our eyes moist when healing flows.
This baptism of tears purges hubris and hypocrisy from our hearts. Tears will inspire love for enemies as we realize their need of grace.