I have walked slowly through Mark 1-4 the past few days… over and over.
There is a story of a man with a withered hand (Mark 3:1-6). The religious leaders are all standing around seeing if Jesus would dare to heal a man on … horrors! … the Sabbath.
5 And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.
Jesus was angered by their hardness. Here was a man with a need right among them and they were waiting to trap Jesus on a technicality.
It is that frustration, but I know NOT that level of anger, I feel when we talk about anything in the American Church today.
We don’t even hold our anger very long. It was just a few weeks ago those horrid Planned Parenthood videos started coming out and for awhile they finally outraged social media enough it became something of a “sensation” for about 2 minutes. We just don’t sustain a holy anger very long any more.
Instead, when something comes along that should cut our souls and call us to action… we all tend to be more like the religious leaders than Jesus.
The horrifying reality of the Syrian refugee situation came home this week with the photos of a little boy’s body washed up on a shore in Turkey. It outraged the world… for about 2 minutes. Most don’t even know about any picture yet.
We get “horrified” in a social media way… but then we go back to our trenches and lob our theological grenades. And we don’t help anyone. We don’t act.
We stand around with our Pharisaical rulers and make our judgments. From the “right” and the “left.”
“Well, those Planned Parenthood videos were heavily edited.” (Like that makes us feel better about the taking of a human life.)
“Well, that child was probably the son of a terrorist.” (So we feel better… how?)
Like the Pharisees watching the actions of Jesus, it’s all we do these days. We think we act like Jesus, but here’s the reality: we don’t even ACT. We just sit around and watch and then lob our ideologies out there on Twitter.
And for the American Church, we need to wake up with a realization: Jesus is looking around at us… all of us… self-righteous evangelicals, self-righteous liberals and progressives… All. Of. Us. And he is NOT happy.
While Syrian refugees drown, while babies are still be sliced up, while people slog around in horrid conditions of life and ACTION is needed, we’re all standing around sniffing at whoever might dare to take action because somehow, in some way, they just don’t believe something right.
There are people who just hate the idea of a Republican being nice because, doggone it, it wrecks their view of Republicans being EVIL. And vice versa for Republicans not liking a Democrat. We’re just not allowed. So we’re sniffing at each other and no action is taken.
More babies will be sliced up. More refugee bodies will wash up on shore. And the Church capable of doing SOMETHING will continue to turn their noses up at any action because, somehow, it’s not the RIGHT action. (Excuse me… the correct action. I sure don’t want any LIBERALS mad at me!)
I don’t want to “feel” justified about my political positions anymore. I don’t want to sit and feel good about my correct theological beliefs anymore. There are actions I need to take. Specific actions that may not solve a deep crisis like abortion or the slaughter of people in the Middle East, but action that none the less can make a difference for someone.
It’s awful when we can’t take action and would rather criticize because our “position” is more correct. I think how long that man with the withered hand had to suffer in that condition because no one wanted to break a rule…
Dear Lord, forgive me for my political, theological, philosophical stubbornness. It is an offense to you. You are angered by my inaction. And I understand.
Help me to ACT.