I eat oatmeal for breakfast every day.
If I’m being honest, I really don’t like the taste of oatmeal. I mean, I put some local honey in it, somewhat to sweeten it and somewhat for allergy purposes. By the way, local honey is a good way to combat allergies if you didn’t know.
I eat oatmeal every day not because it’s tasty or sexy. I eat oatmeal every day because it is a good way to get needed carbohydrates without bread or pastries or junk. And doctors say it’s good for your heart and cholesterol.
I don’t know if that’s true or not but it seems to have worked for a long time for a lot of people. But it ain’t sexy or new. I’m not really into new things so much. Don’t get me wrong; having a new car is nice (which I don’t have). Every now and again, I buy something new but I don’t get too carried away with it.
New isn’t always better.
I’m sure you’ve all heard this before but we live in a culture that is obsessed with the new and the “relevant.” It’s all over advertising, the news (think “this is breaking news,” in other words new) etc. My kids have been infected with this disease. If it’s new, they want it. It’s not their fault. It is what the culture is right now.
But it’s not like it hasn’t always been this way. We have always been a race (the human race) who feels like we need to constantly re-vamp everything; update. Heck, our phones automatically do this: “An update is available.”
We have done this in the Church also. We’ve gotten sucked into the cultural idea that new is better. We are, especially in the Protestant world, obsessed with this stuff. Even my “Reformed” brethren are worried about being “relevant” and new. We’re in a time where even church planters are worried about “branding.” When I was a Protestant church planter, I can’t tell you how many times someone told me I needed to be concerned with “branding” and how we were going to advertise.
Side note: This is not a post on bashing Protestants.
A few years ago (about 4 now), I began a journey. I began a journey into the historic Church. I was reading the Scriptures and wondering what some passages meant. So I decided to do something that has brought some “trouble” for me. I decided to see what the early Christians thought about Jesus. I wanted to know how they lived out their faith in the Christ. I wanted to know how they interpreted Holy Scripture.
I have found something surprising and wonderful. I have found and stepped into a very deep well of Christian experience unlike anything I had experienced as a Protestant. Now, just to be clear, the early Church wasn’t perfect; they had their problems as well. My point is not to proclaim that we need to “go back” to the way it was. I mean, I’m cool with wearing robes and such…
My point is this. Christians have been living out their faith in certain ways, worshipping in certain ways for a very long time. It ain’t sexy or new or culturally cool. It’s kinda like oatmeal in that way. Seems bland on the surface and we’re tempted to add sugar or milk or something to make it taste better. But the benefits of eating oatmeal are not found in the moment. Rather, the benefits are realized over time.
I feel like walking the ancient road of Christianity is like that also. Some of the benefits are found in the moment. But, over time, what we come to realize is that we are walking together in that great communion of the saints, day by day, Sunday by Sunday, Eucharist by Eucharist.
Our souls will thank us in the long run.
I’m grieving right now.
I’m grieving for the world.
I’m grieving for the United States.
I’m grieving for the people of El Paso and Dayton and countless other cities where too many people have lost their lives because we, in America, are addicted to our guns and our violence. I’m also grieving for the first responders.
These brave men and women give so selflessly of themselves to serve their communities. They suffer more than most of you reading this post will ever know. Many of them suffer in silence. Many of them drown their suffering in alcohol or pills or sex or suicide or whatever they can find to dull the pain.
I know they do this. I know because I did it.
Here’s the thing. Humans weren’t made for this. We weren’t made to murder each other. We weren’t made to take lives, including our own, through violence or any other means. How do I know this? Because I am a Christian and I believe God’s Word.
In the beginning, God created. He created all things that existed and He created mankind. He created mankind in His own image, to model and show the world what He was like. And when He had created mankind, He said it was “very good.” If you’ve never read the story or have never really reflected on it or just want to read it again, I invite you to read Genesis 1-3.
But something went wrong.
We chose. Adam chose. Mankind chose to turn our backs on our good Creator and go it our own way. Our pride drove us to make a decision that has proven to be catastrophic for the world. We chose disobedience over obedience. We chose our own will over God’s will. We chose our own way over God’s way. And sin entered the world.
Now look where we are.
We murder and slander and scream and eradicate and destroy and crush our fellow man and the world that God has created that He called good. We flounder around searching for answers to our own problems and yet turn our eyes and hearts away from the very person that can and has and will answer every question that we have, every answer we seek.
Here’s the reality. There are no answers to our problems in America or in the world without the person of Jesus Christ.
Education can’t be the answer. We’ve tried that. We are the most educated and advanced society the world has ever known. Yet, murder and suicide and assaults and vitriol and racism have never been more rampant. We are so busy shouting at each other and accusing one another and pointing fingers that we cannot see the forest for the trees. If education could solve our problems, we would not see racism and all the other problems we see.
Tolerance can’t be the answer. We’ve tried that. Only our so-called tolerance isn’t really tolerance. We are only tolerant of those who are like us, who agree with us. And so our shouting and biting words tear us apart.
There are no answers to our problems apart from the person of Jesus Christ.
While we grieve (rightly so) and demand change (also rightly so), let’s also not forget that there is very real human collateral damage here. Children are dying. Teenagers are dying. Adults are dying. First responders and soldiers suffer within their own hearts and minds the fall out of having to deal with constant death and depravity.
There are no answers to our problems apart from the person of Jesus Christ. It is only in Him that we will find the peace with ourselves and one another that we so desperately need and crave. So while we have our debates about gun control, racism and many other things, let us hear again the words of our Saviour.
“Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
A Prayer for the Human Family (Book of Common Prayer):
O God, you made us in your own image, and you have redeemed us through your Son Jesus Christ: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Soli Deo Gloria!