I’ve been watching. I watch what people post on social media. I’ve learned over the years to mostly just scroll past it – especially when it’s something I don’t like. Engaging in social media “debate” is almost 100% pointless.
I see the posts about a variety of things. There’s the cute post about kids or grandkids or pets. There’s the beauty of nature. There’s the celebrations of life and milestones. There’s the delicious food. There’s the support of one’s favorite sports team. And there’s the partisan posts. These usually are pretty ugly if I am honest.
Politics and partisanship are two different things though. Which is why I didn’t label the political posts are ugly – just the partisan ones. Partisanship is loyalty to a political party above all else. Politics takes on many forms and can include political parties, but doesn’t have to. Politics, at it’s core is a group of people coming together to determine how decisions are made. Politics can be effective or a joke. Politics can be productive or detrimental. Politics is just a tool. What we do with that tool is what matters. When politics is the tool of partisan loyalty, it is usually pretty ugly.
All this had me asking a question – why should I expect anything different?
Good question actually. Nothing that happens today is really new. Partisan loyalty has been around for a long time – well before the Republican and Democrat parties existed. Think about that for a moment. People devoted their lives and resources – gave their undying loyalty – to a political party that no longer exists. And not just a few people – many people did. And for what? For what purpose? All of that blood, sweat, and tears ended up being for something that no longer exists. In a sense, I think it’s appropriate to say that it was pointless and empty. Sure, these parties accomplished some things, but I have to ask – could those things have been accomplished without the political party? I don’t know.
But maybe political parties are like churches. The churches that Paul founded are no longer in existence. They haven’t been for years. So, but the standard that I just made in the last paragraph, does that mean they were pointless? I don’t know.
When I see what happens in the world, I have to ask – why should we expect the world to be different, or better? It’s not been the norm after all. The “news” that we get is what is expected. Humanity has a stubborn streak in it that doesn’t change easily. I saw something about people going to pubs during the plague in the 1600’s. Is it true? I don’t know. But it made me wonder why I should anyone alive today to act any differently. Sure we have plenty more information, data, scientific knowledge, etc. But knowledge isn’t power – applied knowledge is. And humans are really good at not applying certain sets of knowledge when it is inconvenient and goes against what we really want. We’re also really good at applying other sets of knowledge when it matches us with our own agendas.
So why should we expect the world to be different?
Why should we expect racism to be seen as an injustice and evil, to be talked about openly, and be something that should be fought against? It has been the norm of most of the modern era. It’s been the norm.
Why should we expect that stewardship of the earth would be a top (or any priority) for humanity? It’s been the norm that we exploit the earth of its resources in order to either make a profit or get what we want out of it.
Why should we expect that society would care for the poor and oppressed? It’s been the norm that the poor and oppressed are just that – poor and oppressed. They are taken advantage of, dismissed, degraded, and exploited. It’s been the norm that we make excuses for why they are in the situation they are in. It’s been the norm that we maintain systems that keep the poor as poor.
Why should we expect any type of welcome for the stranger? It’s been the norm that strangers are scapegoated and blamed for anything that goes on.
Why should we expect an economy that values people over money and materials? It’s been the norm that the economy exists to advance itself.
Why should we expect a Christianity that actually takes Jesus’ words and commands seriously? It’s been the norm to come to expect something different.
Why should we expect that peacemaking would be ignored and that our culture would expect and prefer violence? It’s been the norm to come to expect something different.
Here’s the answer I have for now. Why should we expect something different – something better? Because if Jesus’ words are true, then why wouldn’t we want follow what he says? Why wouldn’t we want to take him seriously and actually do discipleship? Why wouldn’t we want to see racism end, care for creation, care for the poor and oppressed, welcome the stranger, have a different economic focus? Why wouldn’t we do what we could to actually live into the kingdom that Jesus talked about? I just assume that if someone wanted to claim the title “Christian” it meant that they were serious about actually following Jesus. Does that mean they are perfect at it? Of course not. Following Jesus is really for people who are broken, who see the broken world. It’s for those that want something else – wholeness, Shalom.
That’s why I continue to expect the world to be different – to be better. It’s the hope that I have. It’s crazy. It doesn’t make sense. And yet, Jesus vision for the world makes so much more sense than how the world is right now. Why would we expect anything else?