Run away from infantile indulgence. Run after mature righteousness—faith, love, peace—joining those who are in honest and serious prayer before God. Refuse to get involved in inane discussions; they always end up in fights. God’s servant must not be argumentative…” – 2 Timothy 2:22-23a (MSG)
So many of the problems in our lives, we make ourselves.
Do not misread me. There is such a thing as injustice, and it makes my blood boil. There are real victims in this world, and they make my heart ache. That is precisely why I’m writing this, because it makes me angry that we allow petty, asinine squabbles to divert our attention from that injustice and those victims.
Case in point: I follow the Her.meneutics blog over at the Christianity Today site. Earlier this week, one of the regular contributors posted this piece in which she discusses the affect of media on children and how a particular commercial that involved a woman breastfeeding led her to consider how the media can be used to “promote a fuller view of our bodies.” The comments on the article quickly devolved into a spat about breastfeeding itself. Should a woman do so in public? Should she cover herself? One person lauded the “bravery” of women who breastfeed their children. Another replied, asking what was so brave about breastfeeding. The reply ended with a snarky remark about drama queens.
The remark couldn’t be more on target.
Who cares whether or not a woman breastfeeds her child? As long as the child is being fed, what does it matter? Why is anyone fighting about this? Is it a need to be “right?” To feel superior? Is it insecurity?
This is, of course, just one example, but all you have to do is turn on social media in any form and you’ll get an eyeful of this trend of creating conflict where none exists.
Why do we engage in this kind of childish, selfish behavior? I’m not immune. More than once I’ve allowed myself to be dragged into something so inconsequential as to be laughable. More than once I’ve felt a need to comment on something that I didn’t need to. I’ve had text and email battles. I’ve done the he said/she said thing. I’ve talked about others and been talked about. I’ve felt a life-or-death type of intensity in debates the topics of which I can’t remember an hour later.
A woman is kidnapped. She will be brutally, repeatedly raped and then sold into prostitution.
A child dies from hunger…
…and another from preventable disease.
Sweatshop workers are maimed or killed in a fire.
A man beats his wife.
A mother beats her son.
A family is evicted from their home.
An entire village goes without water.
Bullets fly across the heads of the elderly.
Parents call their children names.
Teenagers plot school shootings.
Someone commits suicide.
I ask you, is Dewey vs. bookstore shelving really more important than all of this? (It’s the world I’m living in, folks). What about organic vs. conventional? KJV vs. any other Bible translation? Mac vs. PC? Home vs. public vs. private school?
We are so wrapped up in our own tiny little worlds.
“He disrespected me.” “She hurt my feelings.” “They don’t understand.”
We have GOT to get over ourselves. I’m not saying that feelings should be ignored or that we avoid conflict at all costs. But is every feeling worth exploring to the nth degree? Does every conversation have to be a battle? Are we really going to be so devoted to the idols of “my pain, my ideas, my experience” that we completely and totally miss opportunities to help those in need? Worse yet, are we going to allow ourselves to be so addicted to chaos and drama that we actually go out and create problems out of thin air?
There are battles worth fighting. There are conflicts that matter. We, the Church, are meant to engage in the fight for justice. Let’s talk about the victims of trafficking and find ways to work against slavery. Let’s talk about the children dying from disease and find ways to bring them medicine and vaccinations. Let’s talk about hunger and contribute to the local food bank or serve at a shelter. Let’s talk about the horrors of abuse and intervene when we see it happening. Let’s talk about sorrow and then notice it in others, offering them the hands of hope. Let’s talk about the terror of war and work to bring aid to the victims. Let’s talk about poverty and search for ways to give.
Let’s talk about fair trade, equal rights, education – and then do something. Get off the computer, step away from the television, put the cell phone on silent. Those things can wait.
The hurting cannot.
Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it. – James 4:1-2 (MSG)