*Please refer to my disclaimer page for a list of my disclaimers!
CW: mass shooting, death
Has humanity really gotten worse?
We think it has, right?
I mean, a simple scan of the news leaves us breathless. Mass shootings, natural disasters, rampant drug use, crime after crime, death upon death.
But I would argue that two things have changed over the last century or so that have made the world only appear to have gotten worse:
- The news is 24/7 now. Prime opportunity to sell some ads. More news? More ads.
- We are growing less comfortable with facade and more comfortable with just being who we really are. Who we really are is human.
Before, we feared what could be done to us. We were more trusting of authority because we didn’t have multiple podcasters, bloggers and journalists, uncovering how corrupt the people in power really were. We really thought they were better than us and had our best interest at heart.
Not anymore. But it’s always been past behavior and a fear of what could happen in the future that forced us to set laws in place to curb undesirable behavior in the present. In
In other words, it’s not so much that humanity has changed–that we were once icons of perfection and are now a bunch of heathens–it’s that what we show the world has changed.
What we’re comfortable publicly flaunting has changed.
And what we’re willing to do to make a point.
Earlier this week, there was yet another mass shooting. This time, however, it was at the most unexpected of places:
A Christian School.
I’ve heard it all before: “God protects Christian schools.”
“This sort of thing only happens at public.”
“Our school will always be safe because our students know Jesus.”
I might have believed that myself…until I started working at a “Christian” school and proceeded to encounter some of the most unChristian people and teachings that I’ve ever known.
This I know for sure: At many of these Christian schools, they’re hearing the name of Jesus but seeing little to no evidence of His Love at work.
We are living in a day and age where people are getting super-honest about their hurts, habits, hang-ups. Trying to figure out who we are, we invite others into that same space. We are challenging the status quo because it’s done us no favors, celebrating imperfections because we’re developing empathy.
This makes many people, especially those who have lived rather comfortably (Evangelical, “traditional” Christians, for example) uncomfortable. Within certain generations, geographical areas, or belief systems you’ll hear things like, “People don’t fear God anymore,” or “There’s too much lawlessness and licentiousness these days.”
These same people often use Paul’s sermon on “the last days” and apply it to now, when Paul thought “the last days” were his days, not ours.
People have always done whatever they have wanted to do. “Bad” behavior has always existed, and what we consider bad often changes.
For example, you probably learned in school that medieval marriages allowed for side chicks, or that at one time we wouldn’t allow students in American schools to use their left hands to write.
Any abnormality for centuries upon centuries kicked you out of the kingdom. Whole institutions developed to house people with disabilities so that the “normal” people wouldn’t have to deal with them and could comfortably pretend they didn’t exist.
It’s not society’s fear of God but of other men that keeps behavior in check, and we are currently living in a society where fear of other men has taken a back seat to more pressing issues of the day.
It’s as if being “good” has almost always been less about our desire to behave and more about a fear of the system.
So many people cringe when they hear laments of returning to the “good old days.” The good old days weren’t good for a vast majority of people. They probably weren’t good for anyone; we just see the olden days through our own innocence and the black and white movies and television filmed in an era when Hollywood placed strict morality clauses on what they could show. Meanwhile, the actors and actresses themselves were taking part in all manner of licentious activity in their personal lives!
I’ll talk more about this fear in future days because I slammed into a theological brick wall during my journey, and that wall and instead of breaking me, the wall crumbled.
What crumbles for you will depend on your ability to see what you really fear in a new light.
[Ecclesiastes 1] These are the words of the Teacher, King David’s son, who ruled in Jerusalem.
2 “Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!”
3 What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? 4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. 5 The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. 6 The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles. 7 Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea. 8 Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.
9 History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. 10 Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. 11 We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now…
10 Don’t long for “the good old days.”
This is not wise.
11 Wisdom is even better when you have money.
Both are a benefit as you go through life.
12 Wisdom and money can get you almost anything,
but only wisdom can save your life.
13 Accept the way God does things,
for who can straighten what he has made crooked?
14 Enjoy prosperity while you can,
but when hard times strike, realize that both come from God.
Remember that nothing is certain in this life.Ecclesiastes
Evangelicals have this super-weird way of meshing apocalyptic fear with toxic positivity. It’s a strange concoction of Worship a Good and Loving Father! and Fear Burning in Hell for all of Eternity!
I say this because often a person will read Ecclesiastes and think, “Heck yeah! I can get behind this guy,” only to find that Evangelicals see Ecclesiastes as one of those books you’re not actually supposed to like or follow. They want you to view it as a cautionary tale as opposed to a mandate proclaiming eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you die.
The Bible is patriarch-focused and full of men who lead far less than perfect lives.
Solomon is but one of them. Repeatedly, the Bible tells stories of men who find themselves in a plethora of predicaments, often caused by their own dumb choices but almost always blamed on women. (Solomon hands women the blame for most of society’s ills in many of his proverbs.)
Even John the Baptist, precious though he is, is a flipping weirdo who lives out in the wilderness and eats bugs.
Likewise, the men Jesus rebukes are a bunch of hypocrites who think they’re higher on the God-chain than anyone else.
Not until Jesus do we find perfection.
Everything Jesus did and said was without flaw. When he was angry, it was justified. When he was confusing in speech, it served a purpose, and when he was just being plain old him, he was full of love and healing.
Jesus even had the power to kill off old, raise the dead, and make all things new.
And I can’t help but wonder what would happen if every person who claimed to be Christ-following stopped focusing on specks and started focusing on the speck and log Remover.
We’re so focused on Christ’s “behavior-changing” love.
What if we really just preached Christ’s Redeeming Love?
See you soon,