Up is down. Bad is Good. Good is Bad. What, not too many years ago, was considered wrong is applauded as right.
The world, it appears (if you listen to the media), has lost its mind.
Well, maybe that is one place I agree with the media. (Although they seem to think where we lost our mind was in the election itself!)
I don’t have to even look at those who are preaching tolerance while they riot and destroy persons and property to say that our behavior doesn’t always match our words. I don’t have to go any further than my Facebook feed to find it.
Whatever happened to Basic Appropriate Behavior?
Now there have always been radicals and rebel rousers. You could make a case that Jesus was one. He turned His world upside down by eating with sinners, befriending tax collectors, and pointing out the hypocrisy of the ones who held themselves up as “better than” the others.
He was the original Rebel With A Cause.
You might not agree with the war in Iraq, but do you boo the grieving family of a slain soldier bringing his body home?
You might not agree with the election results but do you write a letter to an elector threatening to put a gun in his mouth if he follows the will of the people of his state?
You might not like Donald Trump but do you beat up someone who voted for him?
You might believe in free speech but do you allow your students to do a skit assassinating the President Elect of the United States?
You might be afraid that someone with such different ideals than you will not look out for you in government, but do you publically scold them from the stage after they have paid for and applauded your performance?
You might celebrate diversity and condemn racism, but how does that square up with the call for non-white actors? (Can anyone tell me why it was racist for Hollywood to not use more actors of different ethnicities, but it’s not racist of Broadway to say that only certain ethnicities are wanted?)
You might disagree with the next President of the United States, but do you boycott his wife and encourage others to do the same to “make a statement?” (And while we are on that subject, how is it that refusing to bake a cake due to your faith is being a bigot but refusing to design for the FLOTUS is standing for your principles? Is it just me, or is there a double standard there?)
And all that just happened this past week.
But let’s put politics aside.
A 15 year old boy is shot by another 15 year old boy in an argument over basketball shoes.
A civil online discussion about sports degenerates into name calling.
A family mourns their son who was shot while committing a robbery. Not embarrassed or ashamed, they are angry. A robber “shouldn’t have to worry about being shot by a home owner with a gun.”
A new mother is killed by acquaintances and her baby kidnapped.
A clerk refuses to check out a woman at the grocery store because her husband is a police officer and the woman is wearing a shirt that says so.
A man with a roll of quarters is trying to buy milk and cereal for his little girl. The clerk refuses to sell them to him because they don’t rolls of change. The man offers to unroll the quarters but is told he’ll have to take it to the machine that will change it to bills. Only problem is–it costs and he won’t have enough money to pay for the groceries to feed his little girl. Too bad. Store policy. An embarrassed father and a tearful, hungry child leave the store.
What is wrong with us?
We have lost sight of Basic Appropriate Behavior.
Jesus pushed back against the status quo–the poor and women being treated as second class. He turned over tables where the religious took advantage of worshipers. He turned the world upside down where the King ate with sinners and the last were first and everyone was welcome at the table and grace was offered to all.
Even His hard, harsh words, reserved for those who took advantage of others, were laced with love and kindness.
The gentle rebuke of a loving Father who expects better of His children.
Jesus stood for His principles, but offered all love and grace. He didn’t fight for His own “rights”. He gave those up when He entered the womb of a virgin and was born into poverty in a manger. When He fought, He fought for the least of these.
The world is a hard place. There is plenty of sorrow to go around. Why do we make it harder by being ugly to each other?
What happened to basic dignity because we are all in this world together? What happened to basic human kindness because we are all human beings?
Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight.
Shouldn’t they be in ours, even if we disagree?
Shouldn’t life and love and feelings be more important than corporate rules and regulations?
Can’t we learn something from each other? What might the Black Lives Matter grocery clerk have learned by chatting with the policeman’s wife? Maybe that they had more in common than first thought? We all do, you know.
What might the two 15 year old boys have learned from talking through their misunderstanding about the shoes? Learning to give and forgive is a part of life and maturity that these two young men will never know.
What if the grocery clerk had pulled a ten dollar bill out of his pocket in exchange for the roll of quarters so the man could buy the food for his little girl? He’d have felt good for doing good. The man could have held his head high because he provided for his little girl. And a child wouldn’t have gone to bed hungry.
What would the world look like if we treated others the way we’d like to be treated? If we agreed to disagree? If we didn’t strive so hard for our rights that we lost sight of the struggle of others?
What if above all else, we acted in love? If we just followed Basic Appropriate Behavior by respecting each other, even those different than us?
Don’t get me wrong. I struggle with it too. Easier to judge or ignore or move on. Part of me wants to protest–“That’s how they act!” But if I call myself a Christ follower, shouldn’t I lead the way?
Here’s what Colossians 3:1-17 has to say about it (from The Message).
So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.
3-4 Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.
5-8 And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It’s because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn’t long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it’s all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.
9-11 Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.
12-14 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
15-17 Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.