I went to see The Avengers this week- great movie, I was really impressed! I hadn't originally planned to see it as I'm hit or miss with action movies but I forgot how good they make those Marvel movies. I decided to see it after seeing the trailer and all the great talent that was going to be in it, especially Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man because I just think he's great. How many people, particularly famous entertainers do you hear about turning their lives around from drug abuse? Not too many, they usually just end up dead. Anyway, this post isn't so much about that as it is the lesson I learned from the movie, which I must say was a real eye opener. With it being an election year and issues such as what happened in North Carolina this week, I keep hearing so many mixed comments from both the proponents and opponents of all the issues and at this point I can't help but feel that we are kind of at an impasse. It's interesting to me that each side can match each other in citing references, research, even Bible verses to support their position. It's very overwhelming and seems never ending. What's frustrating is that I know where I stand but the other side makes very compelling counterpoints- not that I'm persuaded, rather, I suppose "exhausted" is a better word. After thinking about this further and praying about it I started to wonder what does the collective Christian community in this country really believe? That led me to realizing the reason I don't know the answer, the "collective" Christian community in this country is too busy being in a subtle passive-aggressive war with each other rather than fighting against the real enemy. We are too busy pointing fingers at each other about what we think God really wants from us that we all end up forsaking what God really wants from us, in fact, commanded from us which is to love one another. We aren't loving each other if we are too busy complaining about each other. I have to repent of this too because I get really caught up in it, especially if I feel like I'm being attacked I will take up the defensive and fall right into the enemies hands, rather, than turn the other cheek.
It is time that Christ followers (and well everyone else) wake up and look around our country is falling down around us and our squabbles about who is right or wrong is becoming unproductive. This is what happened in The Avengers movie, the enemy utilized the strategy of divide and conquer and it almost worked, that is, until the heroes wised up and realized that the only chance they had to defeat the enemy was to put aside their differences and work together. For those of us who believe in spiritual warfare, there is a battle ensuing that goes beyond contemporary vs. traditional, faith vs. works, King James vs. NIV, liberal vs. conservative, Republican vs. Democrat, straight vs. homosexual- the real enemy is using all of these things to distract us from the onslaught that all of these things have become an instrument to- the war on our future. While the "parents" are busy fighting, the children in this country are suffering greatly because they are starting to not only mimic our hostility, but also amplify it. In the state where I live school buildings are closing at incredible rates not just because of money but because of decreasing enrollment. More people are choosing to home school their children because school is not safe anymore.
Let's sit in that one for a minute: school is NOT SAFE anymore.
Bullying and aggressive behavior is exponentially worse than it has ever been and no one knows what to do about it, we all say "yeah its bad and needs to stop" but then we go right back to participating in our distractions as if those are a bigger deal. Well they are not a bigger deal when children are being harmed or dying as a result of our actions. We really do reap what we sow. By our actions and our over obsession with being right we are sowing a society of individuality and selfishness, creating a generation of "me first" and "my rights" mentality that fosters nothing but anger and rage and it is staring us in the face through our children. Did you know that majority of schools are educating children on what to do in case of a shooter entering the school? This is not just in inner city folks, but also small town suburban schools that elementary age children know to go into a restroom stall and put their feet up because potential shooters will look under the doors. What?! I'm feeling conflicted, because on one hand I'm glad that children are being taught some level of self-defense or protection, but the fact that they have to do that in this country just flabbergasts me. How far have we fallen in the past 30 years? I have memories of grade school being a very safe place. I mean there was some random fights on the playground, but they never got so out of hand that... I know that there has always been angst in kids and that everyone young and old have stories about bullying or fighting at school, but that's just it, what's going on these days in school are much worse than they have ever been if entire school buildings are closing down.
Children are also reflecting the very issues that we grown ups are arguing about. They are more confused than ever about everything especially about God. Regardless of the details of whatever theology we believe (sometimes I think we've gotten too smart for our own good, present company included) we have to step back and think "what is the one thing that we want our children to know about the Lord?" It would seem beneficial for all of us to revisit that basic fundamental on a daily basis, the simplicity of "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so." What we can't seem to agree on is why He loves us, but we all must agree that He does and at the end of the day isn't that all that really ever mattered? Jesus loved Martha who worked her butt off serving Him and the others at her home, and He loved her sister Mary who chose to sit at His feet and soaked up His presence, listening to every word He said. They both believed two different things but He loved them both regardless. In that one little piece of the Bible Jesus was basically asked the question "works or faith?" and He simply answered "yes" - okay so that is not exactly verbatim what happened, but it is the moral of the story. Now Jesus defended Mary to Martha but only because Martha was complaining about her, He was simply explaining to her that what Mary was doing was just as good, well actually He did say that it "was better" as what Martha was doing, however, He wasn't saying that what Martha was doing made her less loved or wrong because Jesus also talked about serving others. However, at the end of the day whether we served or we just listened Jesus loves us all the same and that's all that really ever mattered anyway.
I am a big proponent about the fact that if we were teachable people who could do what Jesus said He would have never had to go to the cross, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't at least feign attempts to run the race we cannot win. At least act like we are engaged. In saying that, Jesus spoke about this very topic of a house divided cannot stand, about squabbling over low priority things while greater injustices are occurring all around, and about hindering children- and we are so obviously hindering the little children in this country because they are more broken and lost now than they have ever been. I don't like to get into the whole homosexual debate but most of the arguments are around the "born that way" notion. So then let me appeal to the "born that ways": what about the one's who were not "born that way"? When I worked with teens I saw so much confusion as the trend became very popular, especially among girls, to participate in bi-sexual behavior- not because they were born that way but because of peer pressure. That behavior was very damaging to their mental and emotional health. Beyond that it seems that sex in general regardless of it being homosexual or heterosexual sex is damaging to children as it is also exponentially occurring more today than it has ever been. Children today are exposed to more violence and sex than any generation prior and it is only getting worse and we have the issues at school to prove this. Most people generally react with concern about injustices toward children, but yet nothing is getting done to address the issues. The youth are crying out for help and we are too busy pursuing our own agendas to help them. When I picture what is going on in our country today I get this vision of a mother and father on the verge of divorce arguing while the babies are crying down the hall, not being attended to... we really truly will reap what we sow.