Our world is not short of tragedy. If you haven’t realized that by now, well…..I don’t know. Our world is full of racism and terrorism. I knew that already. I didn’t need more dead bodies to teach me that, but these recent tragedies have taught me a great deal, just not what you might expect. Ferguson, ISIS, Palestine, Charlie Hebdo, and the slaughter in Nigeria have shown me just how dark and depraved my own heart is. I knew how sinful other people were, but I have come away from this past several months with a better picture of the tragedy in my own heart.
First of all, these tragedies have exposed my own pride. I have been very vocal (at least to the four or five people who actually listen to me) about my abhorrence of the reaction to the events in Ferguson by many conservatives and evangelicals. I wrote a blog post about it, posted like 20 articles on Facebook, and probably tweeted like 300 times. First of all, these probably did not change a single person’s mind but, more importantly, I am not sure if I actually care about Mike Brown and Eric Garner as much as it seems like, or if I just like my opinion and like being right. Maybe I should have used #MyOpinionMatters, not #BlackLivesMatter. Don’t get me wrong, I find these events awful, and I do think that many people who call themselves Christians reacted in a way that is a poor reflection of Christ, but I wonder if I wrote, and posted, and tweeted so that people would see that racism still exists or so that they would hear my opinion. I wonder if I really love my African American neighbor or if I just love talking.
I’m a Pharisee
A lot of Christians have reacted to Ferguson in ways that I would consider hypocritical and Pharisetical. Tim Keller said that the easiest way to become a Pharisee is to hate Pharisees. I used to be a real Pharisee, a religious jerk you could say. I thought liberals were stupid. I thought I was right about everything and you were wrong about everything. I am still conservative (even though I do not like the word), but I have become much less the stereotypical “God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy” (that is the title of Mike Huckabee’s new book BTW) conservative. I don’t watch Fox News and I am open to climate change.. I’m still an evangelical, but I am not one of “those” evangelicals. I like to think that I am not like “those” evangelicals who deny white privilege and are Islamophobic and like their flags and guns. However, as I have become more open minded, my Phariseeism has not gone away but rather has just shifted. Now, instead of looking down on those I deemed ignorant for being liberal, I look down of Christians who I deem too closed minded. Ironically, this has led me to even more pride, because I am proud of myself for knowing how Pharisetical I am. I am proud of myself for being able to identify it in myself. I am proud of myself for being able to talk about it. I am better than you. We are all Pharisees, but at least I know I am.
I am Numb
When I first heard about 2,000 people being slaughtered in Nigeria, I did not even really feel any sense of anger or sorrow. I kind of expected something like that to happen sooner or later. Our world is fallen. That’s what happens. People kill each other. I knew that it was objectively evil, but I was not moved. I felt far more anger and frustration when I couldn’t find my iPod last week. I wanted to care, but I just really didn’t feel all that upset. I wonder whether I am too much focused on my own little world that I have no grief when these tragedies happen to other people or whether I have just seen one too many so that they now seem routine. I don’t know. Maybe it is because it happened half way around the globe. Maybe if 2,000 people were killed in Ohio I would have mourned. Maybe I enjoyed 24 a little too much or watched one too many Jason Bourne movies, and find it intriguing when these things happen in real life. I do not know how to awaken a sense of grief and sorrow in myself, but I pray that when tragedy strikes in the future, I will mourn just a little bit more.
All this being said, I realize how sinful and wicked my heart is and how much I still need Jesus. I knew the terrorists needed Jesus and the racists needed Jesus, but I need Jesus just as much.