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A PleaJuly 17, 2020
A plea. I know what you expect. You expect and rightly so a “for” to follow, followed by the “for what.” But I feel as if no person can go beyond those two words in our day. It seems to me that whatever follows the “for” is going to be shot at and slammed by someone from somewhere that sees whatever follows the for differently. And not just differently in our day but as their being dogmatically right. Take a stand anywhere in our current moment in our culture and you will not find conversation partners, nor you will find critics. The first is necessary and the second is very valuable. Whatever you may be pleading for or I may be pleading for, I need conversations partners that will listen and give feedback, and I need critics whose criticism will focus on the issue for which I may be pleading and not the person who is making the plea.
Do you know what scares me in our day? It is not the coronavirus. The worst thing the coronavirus can do to me is to be the physical cause of my death. But it cannot kill me, nor can it kill you if you belong to Jesus. It does not scare me. I do not want to get it and I surely want to do everything I can to protect myself, my church family, my own family and everyone else around me. What scares me is that just beneath the skin of almost everyone is something way beyond anxiety, the Germans call it “angst,” and it is ready to explode into emotionally aggressive verbal attacks at the smallest and slightest provocation. It is marking almost every conversation on social media so much so that conversations have ceased. We don’t talk to one another anymore. We either talk past one another or worse, we talk at one another. And we are talking as if we are the experts on whatever the topic and the rest of the human race consists almost entirely of imbeciles and idiots. What may start as a simple tweet or post of Facebook now is exploding into a war of words slung back and forth with intent to do harm.
So, I have plea for me and for all my brothers and sisters in Christ. Pray more and more often; post less. Let’s turn our eyes upon Jesus and look full in His wonderful face and the tweets of this earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. I do not think that Jesus was being a philosophical idealist when He called us to love those who would hate us or those who would despitefully use us. He meant it. And we cannot do it and will not do it unless we learn how increasingly to pray long and Facebook short, how to plead with God for others before we pick up our phones how to spend enough time in the Bible to hear what God is saying before we listen to what others are saying.
I have gone back recently in my memory to my Ph.D. years. It was a tough time. The course work consisted of a group of students, usually a dozen or less, studying together some topic and producing papers. The papers were written and then presented to the other students. The aim of each presentation was to make assertions that were then supported by arguments. The goal of those listening to the presentation was to disassemble the arguments so as to bring into question the assertions. It was fierce, but the focus was never on the person. It was always on the presentation. What was at issue was the issue, not ever the person presenting the issue. The class lasted two to three hours and then we would all as friends who were together every day for several years go drink coffee. Ideas and thoughts even about how to respond best to the coronavirus need to be discussed and debated. But the people who present them need to be treasured and respected as humans made in the image of God. Keep the focus on the issues. Show to others the kind of honor and respect that we want to receive as well. That is my plea. That is all.