(This past week, there has been a series of senseless shootings reported which has brought out several emotions from people. Each one of us reacts to the news based on our philosophies, personal experience, and stories that others have shared with us and I am no different. All of my words may not be politically correct but I feel compelled to share. I wrote the initial post well before the events of the past week and they seem fitting to post now.)
This is not a commentary on education, either public, private, or homeschool. This is not a political statement or philosophy. It is a comment about worldviews and a trend that I see developing and permeating the church.
What I have seen over the last several years is a heightened importance of the adjective over the noun. The adjective is a descriptive word for the noun, not the priority of the noun.
In its most simplistic form, you have an apple, the noun. When you add an adjective it would look something like this:
a hard apple
a soft apple
a red apple
a green apple
a rotten apple
All of the items listed above are apples. One would not focus greater on the word red, or soft to discuss it, yet I see society do so often with other adjective-noun combinations. For example nationality. We now have Italian Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, African Americans, and the list goes on and on where the emphasis is placed on the adjective, not the noun – American. As we begin to place the emphasis on the adjective, it creates division and can breed hatred. So let’s look at this in the church setting.
We have evangelical Christians, Pentecostal Christians, conservative Christians, and the list could go on and on as we focus on the adjective, the “type” of Christian we are, and not that we are all Christians, followers of Christ. To expand on that, almost all churches say that everyone is welcome, but are they? If churches join together for an event or ministry, you may begin to hear terms like “our kids and their kids”; or “our kids and the “bus/community kids”. We begin to divide them between “good” and “bad” with “our kids” being good. When we do that, “our” children notice and begin to disassociate with the ones deemed different from them, and “those other kids” will sense that they are being treated different and not welcome. Sometimes as leaders we find it easier to discard a child then to disciple them. You may have that child that you pray doesn’t show up to a ministry event. What is that teaching those around us? What is it teaching the other children in your ministry? What is that telling that one child?
And there’s more….
This focus on the adjective isn’t anything new. Lately I have seen this redefinition of language enter the church. In many media outlets, books, movies, TV, etc, there seems to be a growing theme of good evil and bad evil instead of good and evil. With this new renewed focus on good evil and bad evil, good evil is seen as “good” when it is still “evil”. The adjective has taken over the importance and the noun has been discarded as irrelevant.
Does this begin in the church? It might when we focus heavily on “for all have sinned” instead of “in the image of God He created them”.
Yes we are all sinners, no one is perfect, but we are the image of God that is tarnished when we sin and God wants to restore that polish. We do not become good evil, we become holy in His sight through Jesus. God sees us as good, like He saw Adam when He created Him, knowing he would disobey Him.
And finally, while we blame the media for the hype, they do it because it is what people ultimately desire. We say we don’t but stats show otherwise. As a blogger, the tips I get for increasing clicks and readership is to have a subject line that is controversial, open ended, or shocking. It is called “click-bait”. Even though outside stats will confirm that, I can simply use my stats from my website. When I post topics that seem controversial or people think will confirm their disapproval or dissent of something, my stats skyrocket. When the topic is generic or something to encourage or offer assistance, very few take the time to read it. That is a readership seeking God, not the world without Him. That is why the media present half-truths or topics to generate controversy. People re-post memes which are misleading and present a one-sided view instead of looking at the big picture… all sides of an issue.
All of these things can contribute to the hate that is in the world around us. Does the church help foster hatred? We might when we divide the children by referencing them as “our kids” and others or when we find it easier to discard a child than to disciple them.
As we see the events unfolding in the United States, our children are watching and learning from our reaction, our comments, our posts. What are we teaching them? What will you tell them? Will it be a spirit of love, or of hate? Will we avoid the conversation on Sunday if they bring it up?
We can try to solve it on our own, but we can’t. We can, and should, have open, honest, discussions, and pray, because God is the one who can change hearts. Jesus tells us that in this world we will have trouble but that in Him we can have peace (John 16:33). Now is the time to preach Christ crucified for in Him we have hope.