The only maladies more contagious than COVID right now are the rapidly-mutating accusations and politically-charged conspiracy theories surrounding it.
I haven’t heard them all yet… but I’ve heard a smattering. And a whole lot of them are coming from Christians. (Disclaimer: I realize that some people who’d identify themselves as such don’t know a whole lot about what Jesus said, did or taught.)
Frankly, I just don’t get it.
Because what does polarizing/politicizing/promoting conspiracy theories – in a pandemic (or ever) – actually accomplish? Especially in regards to what Christ told us to do?
Jesus made it pretty clear that we’ve got two essential tasks before us:
Love God with everything we’ve got.
And love people. Strangers, friends and foes alike.
^ I’m not exactly sure how speculating and insinuating and implicating fit into that.
If we really want people to be drawn to Jesus (and all His goodness/grace/mercy), then we – the people who follow Him – ought to (at least try to) be good and gracious and merciful ourselves. If Christians aren’t the kind of people others are drawn to, then it would seem we’re not doing our job. (Love draws people in and makes them feel heard… seen… safe… special. Not scolded/slandered/dismissed/detested.)
News flash: We’re supposed to point people to Jesus by looking – and living – like He did.
There’s a surprising number of people who know something’s broken/wrong/ missing/stuck in their lives. And they’re just waiting for someone to introduce them to the One who can fix/forgive/fill/free them.
I’ve said this before (probably during the last election cycle) but I think it bears repeating:
My dear brothers and sisters, if we want to win some, we need to be…
Based on what I see on social media lately, I’d say we’re falling embarrassingly short.
I’ve seen some pretty insensitive/offensive/capricious remarks in response to people with differing views on COVID and the issues surrounding it. That over-the-top defensiveness smacks of pride… or paranoia. And it hurts my heart.
And really, what good does it do? The odds of convincing someone with an opposing view – on a platform like Twitter or Facebook – are next to nil.
Maybe these folks can’t find anything better to do.
Or maybe (after two months in lockdown) they’re starting to lose it.
Ranting and raving rarely convince anyone of anything… except that the person doing it is out in left field (or right, as the case may be.) Explain how being argumentative – or spittin’ mad – is going to invite others to love and follow Jesus?
Can we all just take a deep breath… and a step back… and remind ourselves:
The enemy is… the enemy.
Not people created in God’s image and loved like crazy by Him. (Regardless of political perspective, party affiliation, personal preferences or past mistakes.)
We Christians need to pull it together (and pull together). We need to ask the Holy Spirit to empty us of ourselves and fill us full of His love. We need to listen and pray, give and forgive, serve and bless.
… when the Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. ~ Galatians 5:22-23
Peace… not pot-stirring.
Patience… not pushback.
Kindness… not contempt.
Gentleness… not hostility.
Self-control… not volatility.
A friend of mine recently shared this quote from Oswald Chambers, and it struck a chord:
The things we are going through are either making us sweeter, better, nobler men and women; or they are making us more captious and fault-finding, more insistent upon our own way. The things that happen either make us fiends, or they make us saints; it depends entirely upon the relationship we are in to God. If we say — “Thy will be done,” we get the consolation of John 17, the consolation of knowing that our Father is working according to His own wisdom. When we understand what God is after we will not get mean and cynical. Jesus has prayed nothing less for us than absolute oneness with Himself as He was one with the Father. Some of us are far off it, and yet God will not leave us alone until we are one with Him, because Jesus has prayed that we may be.
The response to this pandemic has elicited all kinds of politically-charged accusations and public shaming. I’m not denying there’s lots of lousy reporting, misinformation and not-so-hidden agendas – money and power come to mind – in both political parties and every media outlet around. But why this startling impulse (of some individuals) to push conspiracy theories and wild speculation and gloom-and-doom prognostication?
None of it is helping. It’s not healing a single sick patient or helping a weary front-line worker or feeding a hungry family or lifting anyone out of despair.
So let me be the first to apologize.
To our doctors and nurses and pharmacists and first-responders.
To our grocery store workers and truck drivers and delivery people.
To our researchers and scientists and statisticians.
To my neighbors, friends and fellow citizens whose newsfeed looks uglier by the day.
And to those who have lost loved ones… or their livelihood.
Please don’t reject Jesus because of those who claim to follow Him including…
P.S. I know I’ll probably get some grief for this post… and that’s okay. I may hear some explanations/generalizations/justifications like: “I want the truth! I’m just trying to educate people! Jesus spoke truth!”
Yes He did. (He IS truth.) But when Jesus spoke truth, it was thoroughly wrapped in humility and grace. He wasn’t presumptuous or pushy. Ever.
In fact, the only times He got really riled?
He was calling out…
Father, forgive us.