“Are we really this empty?”
I find myself asking that question a lot lately. Check the trending headlines or your social media and you’ll see it: we are a culture grasping at straws for the next thing to come and soothe us, define us, entertain us or empower us.
If you aren’t “hustling”, you’re not getting anywhere. If you aren’t first, you’re last (I actually saw a mom post those words to Instagram when her son placed first in a ski race my son was in). If you don’t have 300 likes you might as well delete that post (again, true story). Life has us scrambling, and the selfish idols we pile up in the chase have us numbing ourselves with anything we can dig up.
America is seeing there are consequences to the ‘have it your way’ lifestyle and sadly we are still looking to ourselves to be the solution.
Here’s an excerpt from the invite page of well-known feminist women’s tour:
“The world needs a love story…. Our country is inside a divisive, heart-stopping moment. Hearts are broken and hope is fading. We’re all waiting for the heroes to show up. This fall, in ten cities across the nation, we will rise up, join together, and boldly proclaim our collective intention to lead our lives, families, communities, and nation with love. Together, we will heal hearts. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for, we are the ones who will show up and make it right.” Together Tour 2018
She’s right about one thing, the world does need a love story. The rest of it can be scrapped though, because “we”are never going to be the answer to our own problems. As awesome as it’s sounds to just “show up”, it doesn’t get to the heart of our problem. No amount of conjuring up love, bravery or ‘collective intentions’ is ever going to heal what is happening on the inside. “We” are certainly not the ones we’ve been waiting for because “we” are all in the same sinking boat. You cannot call yourself a ‘truth teller’ and preach that truth is all subjective. You cannot thirst for power but thrive on being a victim. Yes, hope is fading, and it’s fading because we have totally disconnected from THE love story we are already a part of. Digging deeper into our own heads for a solution is a walk down a dead end street.
We’ve woven for ourselves a tangled web by continually choosing idols over God thinking they can offer us something new. As Solomon wisely said in Ecclesiastes 1:9, “There is nothing new under the sun…”
We see that as a depressing idea, but I don’t think it’s meant to be that at all. In fact, the more I see our culture striving for new distractions, the more I want to get back to that truth. (Can we insert right here the fact that teenagers are eating, EATING Tide Pods as a part of a social media challenge?!) I’m with Solomon. Please stop the madness.
So we are empty, bored, searching for meaning and amusement at the same time. We are both distorted by our sin and distracted by it. The imprints of Adam are with us still, and they creep up on us in ways we never expect. As much as we’d like to believe we can be the solution, we are not.
In our desperation to be original, we all have become ordinary. In our quest to know everything, we know nothing of truth.
And so I end with some simple, unoriginal, bare bones wisdom from the apostle Paul, who I think understood the need to keep it real better than any of us:
“For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2
“But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Galatians 6:14
We want so badly to “make a good showing” as Paul says in the previous verse, but that isn’t what disciples of Jesus are called to do. Boasting in our abilities gets us nowhere fast. I take that back, it gets you the wrong kind of attention which only leads to more self dependency. Paul was right, God forbid we boast in anything but Jesus. He doesn’t need our hot new takes on what He said, He asks us to go and tell people the good news as He said it.
Paul told the Corinthians he came to them not with wise and persuasive words, but with trembling because the message of Christ relies solely on Gods power to change hearts (1 Corinthians 2:3).
Let’s stop looking to be entertained and empowered by things that leave us empty. I pray that the pendulum swings back soon, that people would see through the empty platitudes and fancy self-help conferences that point us to ourselves. You know what people who come out of that stuff need the most? Simple, unaltered words of truth, as found in Gods word.
Oh that Jesus would radiate out of us not because of who we are but because of who He is! That we who carry His message would tremble at how deep both sin and grace are in our lives. How freeing it would be to be un-original in our presentation of the truth. We proclaim the good news where it hurts the most, where it laser cuts between joints and marrow, people will be angry or accepting of it, the results are not up to us. We are disciples and presenters of the Word – may we be more excited to share His truth and join in His great love story than we are content to stay in our own.