Sunday, June 18, 2017

“Standing Up or Standing In”

Over the past few months, I’ve been in somewhat of an “observational” mode on social media, and shockingly, I have discovered that evidently there are more experts, consultants, informational gurus, & activists than at any point in the history of mankind! I say that somewhat in jest, but my recent observations have been quite revealing. I repeatedly have to keep my head down from the shrapnel, aftershocks, & volatile verbal fallout with the plethora of social, moral, political, and religious volatility that consumes the airwaves & newsfeeds. Those type things really uncover some interesting, telling, & even unfortunate realities about how reactionary, emotionally unstable, self seeking, and easily distracted human nature can be, even those who consider themselves to be of the christian persuasion. I am learning not to air my opinions on Facebook relative to the “symptomatic”, issue-centered discussion, or join every freakin’ “support this” & “boycott that” page that various & sundry pissed off and emotionally charged people felt compelled to start! No, I instead chose to focus on the root cause of these symptoms, and tried to encourage people to get beyond their emotions, opinions, & activist mindsets for just a moment, and try to understand the reality that evil is gonna always be…..evil! Immorality and those who perpetrate evil and immoral deeds are gonna make decisions, say things, and respond in ways and words that wreak of, well, evil and immorality! Duh! Why would that surprise you? When a nation devolves into a state of moral & ethical relativism, where every line of right & wrong is blurred and distorted in order to accommodate the ever darkening human condition that craves self indulgence, and where personal responsibility is replaced with entitlement & blame, this is what you're gonna get—the american culture that we’re experiencing! The reality is that a world which insists on existing in its depravity and flaunting freedoms with no responsibility—and doing so from a defiant paradigm that sees no need for a Saviour or the abundant, redeeming Life found only in Jesus—will certainly look exactly like what we’re seeing today in popular culture, media, politics, religion, entertainment, and so on! I have made the choice to magnify THE ANSWER, and to take my “stand” from my identity, IN CHRIST! I feel quite certain that every “show” of conviction, every “boycott” or “protest”, and every “group or page” that I join on social media will do little to nothing to change the heart & mind of one person who believes differently than me. If you feel the need to be “heard”, or to have your opinions and “stands” validated, and maybe even somehow compensate for your insecurity in some area, then by all means, go for it! Good luck with that! I happen to think those who insist on engaging in that type of behavior are probably more interested in making a point rather than making a difference.
People are an incredibly interesting study…me included, I’m sure. Or maybe I’m just a flat out “weird” study! The dynamic that exists, and the passionate connection between people and their belief systems has been exponentially magnified with the advent of social media! My whole philosophy has changed over the past 1-2 years relative to the best, most productive, and enjoyable ways to use social media. To some, social media is obviously the greek term for "soapbox", & to many others, it’s simply a way to reconnect with old friends, family, and groups of peeps with similar interests. And sadly, there are some people who use social media primarily as a means of gaining validation & approval from others—oftentimes complete strangers whose only connection is that they may happen to have a few “mutual friends”. They seek this validation by continually “exercising” their freedom of speech (or freedom of typing), and their rights to “Speak up or Stand Up” for what they feel passionate about! After all, “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”, right? Sure sounds noble, huh? Actually, I believe that quote is tucked away somewhere in the book of “Self-righteous logic 1:1”. They feel that speaking their minds, and sharing with the rest of us, what they may be feeling or thinking at any given moment, makes them “real”, genuine, or honest. And social media has given them instant gratification and an immediate outlet to pontificate and bloviate, sharing their every thought, emotion, or soapbox that happens to be “stoking” their “principled fires” at the time. They give little thought to the wisdom, timing, and Christ-centered “heart” that should responsibly “govern” their words & sentiments. However you try to twist or distort scripture, the fact remains, Jesus never demanded His rights, yet He never compromised truth. He always dealt with the heart—the root issue, and not the superficial symptomatic. That's where the religious heart wants to keep the game. Even though He was the embodiment of truth, He chose to refrain from defending Himself, and instead, in every instance, He reflected the heart of, and carried out the will of His Father! Even on the one occasion we’re quick to refer to & justify our “anger” or emotionally driven “righteous indignation”—driving the money changers from the temple—His actions were motivated by His Father’s heart, and not His own personal agenda. His frustration was actually directed at the abuse and distortion, by religion, of the original purpose for His body—the church. Unfortunately, that's still goin’ on today, and yet there doesn’t seem to be nearly as much of an outcry or push back from the religious crew as there is toward gay marriage, Starbucks, A&E Television, or the like. Jesus remained silent before His accusers, and chose not to engage His detractors in futile arguments which were merely “smokescreens” to camaflouge the condition of their hearts. Even though He knew He was right, He never insisted on “grandstanding” His rightness before those who stood against Him! Even at the moment of His ultimate act of surrender—His death on the cross—He wasn’t “touting” His rightness, but instead, forgiving those who had wrongly accused Him, hated Him, and stood against everything He was. He gave His life instead of protecting His own reputation! How different that picture is from so many of His modern day “followers” who feel compelled as “activists” to defend opinions, sacred views, or speak out at every opportunity against anything they deem as a threat to their ideology. Ultimately, I’m more interested in standing IN CHRIST—my identity—, and reflecting HIS life in everything I do, than “standing up” for an opinion, right, or viewpoint which may, in fact, be noble—my ideology! HIS Life is the ONLY thing that will truly bring about heart change! I think THAT takes much more “backbone” than spewing opinions and arguments simply because you have that “right”. Of course, many consider this (under the religious sounding guise) “standing up for what’s right”! What makes you “real” isn’t being willing to regurgitate everything you feel or think in any given moment. That often times makes you look like a “real” fool! Let wisdom & love—not your desire to be heard, agreed with, or validated— guide your heart, your words & your motivations to speak.
It is most obvious that there is an attack on the things that are near & dear to the heart of God, including those of us who seek after His heart, and live our lives IN HIM! It’s been that way forever! Good & Evil have never been “fishing buddies”! That really shouldn’t surprise you! It’s imperative that we understand who the real enemy is! Our battle is not with “flesh & blood”, it is a spiritual war! Boycotting & behavior modification do nothing to change the condition of the human heart! Symptomatic “management” only disguises & distorts the real needs of the heart! Humanity needs healing! It needs a Saviour! But when we insist on waging this war from a position of “flesh & blood”, we will lose every time! The enemy of our soul is an expert on human nature. He knows how to distract, to distort, and to cause us to put our “faith” in our own futile strength, personal beliefs, convictions, traditions, and performance! That's what he is doing now! He doesn’t want us fighting the war from our position of strength in Christ, and HIS Spirit living through us! From that position in our true identity, the war has already been won! We are free to live from THIS place, and watch HIS supernatural power & life be the change in the lives of the people of this culture! At what point will we stop simply standing up, piling our religious eggs in the basket of our own “belief systems”, opinions, and rightness, and start STANDING IN our identity IN CHRIST, by HIS SPIRIT, through HIS GRACE AND LOVE! These are not about us and our abilities & performance! They are about Him! He is the answer! He is the change! He is the hope for all! CHRIST IN US… At what point will those who claim to be His followers, actually start following?

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