It’s amazing what a headline can do, isn’t it? Or a catchy teaser signaling the next segment on your favorite news program (or these days, favorite news CHANNEL).
At least in the West, we are now a society clinging at every moment to the next news story ricocheting in our media-obsessed worlds.
But I’m not reflecting on the pervasive negativity associated with a 24-hour news cycle.
That’s so yesterday.
What I would like to explore is the deep healing the rancor over these headlines signals.
Outrage seems to be the norm.
Folks are outraged by the appearance of fiscal waste in government.
Folks are outraged by the appearance of low security along our borders.
Folks are outraged by the morally-bankrupt behavior of our popular entertainers.
Folks are outraged at the cost of basic healthcare for themselves and their families.
Folks are outraged at the rate of violence in communities.
What is the obvious, common thread in all of this?
Our fears are constantly being stoked because fear evokes emotion and interest.
Fear keeps us tuned in.
Fear also drives action and that keeps the whole machine running.
But it’s coming at a significant cost.
Our health is at risk as a result of the constant stress fear puts on our bodies. According to WebMD, 75% to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints. Our communities are less cohesive because of the fear of differences exhibited by our neighbor, whether its their religion, race, or family structure. We are less likely to fully enjoy our lives because of fear.
But here is why I’m hopeful.
There is a simple, straight-forward solution to this epidemic of fear.
The message of Jesus Christ (not the one being co-op’d by right-wing hate groups but the hopeful, loving one reflected in the Bible) is a beautiful antidote to all this fear, stress, and hate. (Remember, I am training to be a pastor so you can’t be too surprised).
In the Bible, 1John 4 writes, “perfect love drives out fear”. Isn’t that a beautiful message? Quite the opposite of what you might be hearing these days.
And the only person capable of offering this perfect love is God in Jesus Christ.
But here’s the fun part: the delivery mechanism is YOU. And your neighbor. And your friends. And yes, even in media outlets.
When we offer the love of Christ, we become “little Christs” (which is actually a literal translation of a Greek word for “Christians”) to one another, offering this powerful, healing, perfect love.
Let’s start today. Why not? Why not begin dismantling this oppressive system of hate, fear, and ugliness and replace it with a message of love?
It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself religious or not, or if you identify with a different faith tradition. The message of love is the same.
Whatever your predisposition might be to Christianity or organized religion, I invite you to suspend this for a moment, try to clear your minds of any preconceived notions, and just focus on the message of love.
What are you afraid of?