Thursday, July 14, 2016
A few weeks ago a large number of gays at a nightclub were killed. The nation felt sorrow and sadness. Many went to church and prayed. Last week five police officers were assassinated in Dallas. The nation felt profound sorrow and sadness. Many went to church and prayed.
It seems as a vicious cycle . . . watch, pray, repeat.
Eventually though we stop, for something else has gotten our attention. Life intrudes. This is part of humanity. We are a temporal people, who rarely find permanence. So we race to the nearest shiny object, yet upon seeing another, move on.
Across the nation passion still ignites. People protest and move into opposing camps, with each side claiming that they have the moral imperative, implying that God is on their side.
Everyone seems to want things to change. Some urge us, as a nation to move forward with acts of civil disobedience like shutting down roads, or picketing in front of the police headquarters. Others however simply want a return to peace and stability.
This is not new. This nation has gone through such strife before and will in the future. But the issue remains, should we become activists and work on changing the world, or resign ourselves to the fact that despite what we do—or say—little changes?
I am reminded of the Old Testament passage “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity”. In the end, everything we do remains inchoate. Looking at the long view of history, we see strife and resolve, peace and war, openness towards strangers and xenophobic retreat. Perhaps this is why some people become pessimistic and depressed, for they realize that human agency is very fleeting.
So, what do we do?
We need to remember that our purpose is to live and love. God is the one doing all the work. Yes, we can strive to make the world better—and should. But like a house built on sand, it will soon be washed away, for it is not our doing.
God does not really need us. God can find someone else, or some other way. That is what the divine does.
Yet this is not a "cop out". We have our job, for it is not what we do, but how we live—full of thankfulness, joy, and humility. Our lives are mostly mundane. We work. We eat. We sleep. But we also, befriend, help and support.
God does not need us—but God does want us. It is like a little kid who hands his father the tools while dad fixes the car. Dad could do it himself, but he wanted his child to assist and to learn.