Readers, with each new tragedy and act of violence that hits the news, my words feel more inadequate. It’s a terrible feeling for someone who has always been a writer; words are my “thing.” If I could just say the right words, I could persuade, engage, heal, sort out this mess of a world. Except that social media, blogging, relationships … all of it just brings to the forefront the inadequacy of my words, of anyone’s words to fix this broken world.
I scroll through my Facebook and Twitter feeds and everyone is talking talking talking. So very many words. So much alienation. So much moving away from each other. So much posturing and pontificating.
So many blog posts capitalize on the world’s suffering: “You won’t BELIEVE what Obama just did to American citizens,” “Republican heads explode when this happens,” “The other guy is completely evil and WE are the righteous.” I wish people understood that when we bloggers write these kinds of posts, it is with a calculated desire to make money. We get paid more when you click more. The more outrageous the better. Click click click. Ca-ching.
And cable news is no better. My go-to network of choice is CNN; they are supposedly more centrist, but in reality their newscasters are often just trying to make a buck too. I listen for the keywords (“disturbing details,” “the gunman,” “war against ____,” and on and on); I see the controversy and outrage being stirred up. There is so much heat and so little light.
We are so alienated, and I have no words. No words that are original, at least. Words are everywhere; how can we sort through it all to hear what is true? How many debates can I have with people? Does what I say actually matter? Is anyone actually listening? Am I bringing any hope or reconciliation into this world. Or am I just pontificating too?
My heart is aching for our country. My heart is aching because we are so alienated, but–in America at least–Christians are contributing to much of the alienation. Even though the Bible says things like this:
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.–Ephesians 2:13-18 NIV
And things like this:
As Christians, sure, we will upset people sometimes by our beliefs. But if we are rejected, we need to make sure it is because of the Gospel, not because we’ve decided to be jerks, or because we are putting self before neighbor, or because we are adding to the alienation in the world. We are called to be people of reconciliation, Gospel people, salt and light.
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin[b] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.–2 Corinthians 5:18-21 NIV
I run up against my own failures. My writing is not my “get out of jail free card.” I have to face my own failures. My failures of words. My failures of actions. I need to come to the foot of the cross with my fellow alienated souls and find solace. Here there is One who gave of Himself for me, for us. Here is one whose cross bridges the divide between the fractured parts of our broken humanity. Here I am humbled to find that I am part of the problem. Here I can confess and begin to be healed … day by day.
My words are not enough. Oh God, they fall so short. My greatest strength is not strong enough. Jesus, be what I cannot. Heal our broken world. Reconcile the alienated. Somehow use me to do some sort of good for my neighbor. Amen.
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Because this is a Christian blog, the things I’m talking about will obviously be topics that people feel strongly about in one direction or another. Please keep in mind that this is a place for substantive, respectful, constructive conversation. All perspectives are welcome to discuss here as long as all can treat each other with kindness and respect. Please ignore trolls, refuse to engage in personal attacks, try not to derail the conversation into divisive rabbit trails, and observe the comment policy listed on the right side of the page. Comments that violate these guidelines may be deleted. Vulgar remarks may result in immediate blacklisting. For those who clearly violate these policies repeatedly, my policy is to issue a warning which, if not regarded, may lead to blacklisting. This is not about censorship, but about creating a healthy, respectful environment for discussion.
P.S. Please also note that I am not a scientist, but a person with expertise in theology and the arts. While I am very interested in the relationship between science and faith, I do not believe I personally will be able to adequately address the many questions that inevitably come up related to science and religion. I encourage you to seek out the writings of theistic or Christian scientists to help with those discussions.