I was sitting in a coffee shop today. Yeah, it’s pretty typical of my generation.
Even more cliche than that, I was blocking everyone out with my iPod headphones in, listening to music.
And to add another dimension onto the cliche’ness, I was writing in my journal.
The reason I do this is because, naturally, I’m an extrovert (big surprise), and I spend a lot of my time with people because that’s just naturally how I like to be. But in the past year, I’ve become much more introverted. Its lead me to actually desire to go and be alone and reflect, write, pray or listen to music. I now really really enjoy those times I have to be alone because they’re often the times where I get most inspired.
Well, today was an interesting day. I went to the coffee shop because my heart has been heavy lately. I don’t know why, but for some reason something just feels off. Still does. That’s sort of irrelevant though because as I was sitting there, listening to music and writing in my journal, I became extremely aware of the suffering in the world. Like, really aware. I don’t know what caused it. It could have come from thinking about Syria, and all the death and displacement that’s happening there or maybe it came from watching a new series on Netflix called “Derek”, which is a (fictional) comedy/drama about a man with special needs who works in an old folks home. It spends a lot of time highlighting how, as a culture, we ignore the difficult issues.
Now, me, as a writer/feeler/thinker and whateverthehellitisthatcausesmetobesosensitive kind of person, I am painfully aware of all the issues that go on in the world. If there’s some sort of injustice, I will most likely have a very passionate opinion about it. And today as I was thinking about the suffering in the world (no issue in particular, just basically the problem of evil) I was brought to tears by a certain phrase (yes, I was half weeping/trying to cover up the fact that I was weeping, in a coffeeshop).
“Jesus wept” ()
His friend Lazarus had just died, whom he loved very much. So, what does he do? He tells everyone that Lazarus is just sleeping, and when they don’t understand that he’s implying that his intention is to resurrect him, he says it plainly to them, “Then Jesus told them plainly, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” ( ESV)
He then proceeds to go off his planned course and go to Lazarus and his family to resurrect him. Now, I understand that what John was trying to portray here may not necessarily be what I’m taking from it (a no-no in Bible reading 101), but I believe that a whole other depth of God’s love for humanity shows itself here, so I don’t think it’s bad to draw this conclusion here. Jesus goes the grave, and sees the pain that this death has caused the family and friends and when he sees this, he is brought to tears. Jesus wept.
This is where we need to slow down and think about what’s going on (and to emphasize my point, I’m going to write like Rob Bell).
The Son of God.
The creator of the universe and all that’s within it.
Shed tears, for one of us.
I never really thought about this text until now.
That’s a big deal.
That got me thinking (again) about the problem of evil and how God allows suffering in the world and I was brought to tears (yes, it happened a few times. Luckily, I don’t think anyone saw me).
If God wept over a single man dying, how much more pain he must feel for the thousands and thousands of people dying each day. How much pain must he feel towards the suffering and oppressed. The displaced and disgraced. Those who have lost their homes to war, their friends to hatred and their dignity to apathy.
How it pains him to see seniors abandoned by their families and lost to demoralizing diseases that cause them forget who they are and everything they’ve done.
How it must pain him to see homeless men and women rummage through garbage, trying to find anything to salvage so they can make it another day.
How much pain must it cause him to see children’s rights abused, their innocence stolen from them by war, abuse or neglect.
How much pain it must cause him to see millions of people living in wealth, and yet struggling to get through each day because they have everything, yet their depression takes away any joy or life they have.
How much pain it must cause him to see women objectified, when, truly, they are his beloved daughters. Their images distorted by billboards and advertisements telling them that they must look a certain way to be beautiful.
How much pain it must cause him to know all these things, and to have given us a way to fight it, to heal it, and yet here we are, sitting on our computers watching another video or scrolling through another array of funny pictures, wasting our time away.
I don’t believe apathy is the killer in our generation. I believe lack of action is. We care about these things, I know that, but we’re not willing to put in the hard work to fix them. We’re willing to throw our money at the issues, but money doesn’t solve things. Relationship does. Time, effort and love does. We’re so focused on becoming rich or becoming famous, or getting that next new thing, that helping people and serving people is something that someone else should do, but not me. I’ll support them, but I don’t want to get my hands dirty.
How it must pain him to see us in a culture, with so many opportunities to learn about the atrocities that plague our world, and yet the farthest we go to combat these injustices is to make a comment about how someone else’s opinion on the issue is wrong.
And yes, we could get into a big argument about why there’s evil in a world that has a God who could abolish it. But that’s not the point I’m trying to make here. Let’s take our focus off of that issue and point it back at us. Why are we allowing evil in the world when we could do something about it.
Well, I’ll tell you the main reason. It’s hard. It’s bloody difficult (I want to use other words here, but I’ve already sworn too much in this post for it to be considered Christian anymore, so I’ll stick with “Bloody”)
I’ll tell you something. I’m tired of watching videos and reading articles about how to change the world. Yeah, it’s great that people are raising awareness (really great actually). But what good is being aware when you’re just going to sit on your ass and not do anything about it.
Moral of the story: Jeff sat around on his ass and got really passionate about something, so he wrote a blog about it so that other people would get off their asses and do something about the problems in our world. Ironic.
Don’t misinterpret what I’m saying though. I know that much is being done (actual, tangible, practical things).
But what are YOU doing. I’m talking to my generation. The generation that thinks nothing of (and often makes memes about) sitting in front of our computers and T.V.s, mindlessly wasting complete days away on our favorite show or Facebook page. Yes. You. I know you’ve done it, and still do it.
It’s easy to talk about, and to come up with ideas to fix these problems (I would know because that’s all I do), but when was the last time you got your hands dirty and actually did something for someone else and didn’t expect anything back from them. When was the last time you just outright served someone, out of the kindness of your heart. When was the last time you got passionate about an injustice in the world and actually did something about it, no matter how small that something was?
For me? It’s been a while. I’ve spent a lot of time watching Ted talks and other things and sat there fuming, wondering how we, as a culture, have let ourselves become to depraved. Then 5 minutes later I’ve completely forgotten about it.
And this is something you’ve probably heard a million times before.
do something about it.
think about where your life is going and what you’re really passionate about, and then work for it. Work to make this world a better place. If you don’t think it’s your responsibility to do so… well, come out for coffee with me and we’ll talk about it.
let’s be as compassionate, empathetic, understanding and loving towards the people caught in the tragedy of human suffering as Jesus was.
And thus ends the vague rant/call to action.
Think about this in 5 or 10 minutes when you’re back to doing something meaningless on the internet again 😉