Responding in Love to a “Mean” Meme

Posted: February 20, 2018 in Thoughts on art ministry and life
Tags: , , , , , , ,

So a friend of mine reposted a meme that said this:

“School shootings wouldn’t happen if god were allowed in school”
Does god keep pedophilia out of church, tho…”

I wanted to get angry, but mainly I was hurt. I wanted to lash out, but in doing that, I would have been adding to the noise. Instead I decided to try to explain how I see things. First of all God is allowed in schools, the students just have to bring Him with them. We adults are not allowed to impose our faith on the kids, but the kids have the freedom to express their faith, at least for the most part. Secondly, we need to remember that God does not impose faith upon us. He doesn’t force us to follow Him, He invites us into relationship with Him. This is also, in a sense, part of the problem.

The meme above implies that God would impose His will on us, forcing us to obey. Were that the case, there would be truth in the meme, but He doesn’t force us. He loves us and He wants us to choose to love Him. No, the reason the above things happen is because we are in the midst of an unseen, supernatural war, fought by an enemy who wants to separate us from the God who loves us and in the midst of that battle, is the church.

I’m a pastor. The reason the meme upset me, is because I know and love the people I serve and I can honestly say they would go to great lengths to protect a kid, as would I. People who post a meme like the one above, would expect that the church welcome anyone, with any set of problems into the church with open arms, and they would be the first to blast us if we didn’t, and that expectation is probably justified, but you can’t have it both ways. I often say the church is like an airport, everybody enters dragging their own baggage (including me). Combine that with the fact that we are under constant spiritual attack and you can see the struggle and by the way the better we do, the more intense the attack. The enemy is fierce.

The meme would say that means God (and prayer) is ineffective (or non-existent) but this is not the case. Rather free will sometimes wreaks havoc both within the church and outside our walls. Most Christians are not self-righteous jerks, and the ones who are are not following our humble Savior. Most Christians are people who’ve found the love of God and try to make a difference, realizing our brokenness and recognizing the great love, grace and mercy God has shown us. God is still completely good, all-powerful and effective, but people still get to make choices. Our greatest hope is to submit our wills to God and when this happens, things change. Sadly this does not always happen. So what is the church to do? Turn our backs on the broken? No, the broken are at least part of why we’re here. You also have to keep in mind that people are often not forthcoming with their problems and the stuff we keep hidden is the stuff that kills us. The hidden stuff is also the hardest stuff to protect against, but we try and yes, I believe God helps us.

We do background checks, we have child protection policies in place, but the reality is those things are only somewhat effective. For example, if you had asked me ten years ago, I would have told you Jerry Sandusky was a hero and most people would have agreed. A man who rose to the top of his profession and started a charity that was helping hundreds or maybe even thousands of kids. It wasn’t until around 2011 when things came to light that we knew the truth. Before that he would have passed any background check. People like the person who created the meme would probably point out that Jerry Sandusky claimed he was a Christian. While I do my best never stand in judgment of anyone, Christians are supposed to be followers of Christ and he was not following any semblance of Christ’s example when he did what he did.

At the end of the day, bad stuff often happens because someone makes a bad choice and those choices often splatter. God loves us and gave His only Son to save us from our sins, but the choice is still ours and the battle rages on. The best we can do is to live to honor God and try to help as many as we can. Following the example of Jesus, an example of sacrificial love and righteousness (doing the right thing because it’s the right thing) is the best path we can take in this life. Free will guarantees bad things will still happen but God is good and can be trusted.

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