Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Breaking Bad Habits

This morning something funny happened. I asked something of someone via a social media site. It was a simple something; respectfully and cheerfully put out there, but the response I was given was rather snarky. It made me wonder whether if I had been standing beside this person on the street and asked the question, if they would have answered me in the same way. I kind of think not. I kind of think that a lot of things we post on social media or via texting would not be said face to face. 

In a culture that seems eager to jump down people’s throats at the slightest opportunity, I can’t help but feel that we’ve fallen into a societal bad habit of sorts. The habit of seeing life as insignificant. Living, breathing human beings as worthless. We often treat ourselves and others as those that lack value. And nothing could be further from the truth. 

As with most bad habits, we don’t realize we’re caught up in it until the symptoms arise and we are forced to step back and re-evaluate our actions. Bloody fingers after biting the nail too short, cavities in our teeth from drinking soda all day. Rising animosity towards others because we’ve lost sight of our value. We’ve lost sight of the significance that every human life carries from conception to natural death. 

That significance is sometimes hard to see with our earthly eyes. Not every person will feel significant to us all the time. Thank God for His word that shows us the value we have in our redeemer, Jesus Christ, who sees our value when others cannot.  Our lives and our very existence are so valuable that God sent his Son to die in order that we might have life and have it abundantly. That word “abundantly” doesn’t refer to wealth, power, or position but abundantly full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are the gifts of the Spirit that are ours in Christ. We are capable of such things. How many of us would trade our animosity and indignation for these things instead? We love others because He first loved us. He gives us the love, the joy, the peace, the patience, the kindness, the goodness, the faithfulness, the gentleness, and the self-control to serve our neighbor with full respect for the tremendous significance they have in this world. 

Restoration is not a one man job.  (Unless that man is Jesus.) The ability to share our lives with another, or many others, is a gift from God. The people we meet in the grocery store, drive alongside on  our way to work, share our dinner with, and even share snarky moments with on social media. In a world that seeks to highlight the individual, I am reminded of the power of community. I am reminded that we have a relational God who has created us to be relational people, therefore, Satan will do everything in his power to separate us. Alone we are weak but together we are strong. Is it any wonder we’re pinned against one another? When our attention is diverted from the relationship among us, in other words, when we’re sitting behind our computer or telephone screens, it is so much harder to see the heart of others and so much easier to slander one another.

Whether we’re going through hard times or starting a new chapter in our lives, isolation is a real threat. The more isolated we are, the less value we will have for ourselves and others; our perspective is changed, the less compassion and concern we feel for those struggling right along with us. Our instincts will lead us inward, to focus on ourselves, rather than outward into communion with the world around us, where we can be lifted and also lift others up. 

So. Let's set out, together, to begin breaking the bad habit of seeing others as worthless or insignificant. Every human life has value and you. are. loved.  

“We love because he first loved us.  If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” 
 - 1 John 4:19-21