It doesn’t take much to get people riled up these days. Think about it with me for a moment. From one week to the next people are getting extremely angry about all sorts of different issues. One only has to open up some form of social media on any given day and scroll through for approximately .05 seconds and you will find something that someone is angry about. I finally decided that I just can’t click on any headline that has the key words ‘upset’, ‘outrage’, ‘displeased’, or any of these synonyms if I want to lead a more productive day. Most recently people have been getting outraged over a few athletes disrespect of the US National Anthem. And I understand where that frustration comes from, but my question is this: is this what we should truly get so upset about?
Before you click off of this blog post or delete this email hear me out for a second. I am not discrediting any of the symbolism or history or pride that people feel are bound up in this issue. I don’t want to discredit the complexity of this issue…I just want to raise a different issue. A million years from now many of us will not even know what all of this hullabaloo was about. Why? Because we believe in something that will outlast the temporal. We believe in a Kingdom Come that is and will be eternal and all earthly kingdoms, nations, principalities are like vapor in comparison. So my question is, why are we as Christians so worked up over this issue of disrespect and allegiance when there is something much greater at risk?
Let me clarify a bit. I get mad too. I get outraged. But I try not to get upset over things that will not matter as much in the eyes of eternity. However, when someone misrepresents the name of Jesus. When someone uses the name of Christ to belittle, exclude, alienate, oppress, wound or in any way hurt someone else I get outraged. This is something that deserves our anger and our ire. In his first epistle the writer of John writes this about our character, “Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” – 1 John 4:7-8. Love is the defining mark of those who belong to God. And if someone claims the name of Christ but their actions, their words, their posts, their tweets are not characterized by love then I believe this is a reason to get upset and feel disrespected. Not only that, but if we as Christians aren’t working for the betterment of the world and the lives around us then I also feel that our allegiance to the Kingdom is in question. Saint Teresa of Calcutta once said this, “The greatest sin of man is not the hatred, but indifference to his brothers.” By our inaction and lack of engagement with those around us we are also showing that our allegiance lies not with the Kingdom of God but with the ideology of indifference and apathy.
So may you get upset today (see, I gave you permission), but not with things that won’t matter in the eyes of eternity, but over the violation of the law of love. And may you become proactive in loving God and loving your neighbor for all else truly pales in comparison.