Monday, June 20, 2016

Ugly Soap Boxes

          There's been a lot going on in the world lately. Only two weeks ago the online world was consumed with discussion about rape and consent, as a result of this powerful statement released by a victim of sexual assault. The week before that, the internet got pretty self righteous about an unfortunate incident involving a gorilla, and a four year-old child. This week we had two horrific incidents back to back, and both in Orlando; singer Christina Grimmie was gunned down and killed, while signing autographs with fans, and barely two days later, in Pulse night club, 49 people were murdered in cold blood.

Sunday night hit me like a punch in the gut. Where was I when 49 people died? What was I doing? What was running through my mind? Probably nothing of profound importance or consequence. It was another day for me, and it was just another day for the people in Pulse: until a man walked in with a gun. 

Where was God? What was He doing? Why didn't He stop this? My worldview, and reliance on scripture informs me, that it was well within His ability. So why didn't He? These are questions that I still can't answer with any clarity or certainly, and I probably won't ever be able to. There are some things I can never reconcile; God's infinite love, and ultimate sovereignty and control over this world seem like irreconcilable truths sometimes. They are both true aspects of His character, and they are beyond my complete understanding. Believing that God is all loving, and all powerful, takes trust; it takes faith.

I've been wrestling with these questions and thoughts this past week. But while grieving the lives lost and shaped by this tragedy and crime, and asking God to show Himself in the darkness, I could hardly comprehend the reaction I was seeing online. The internet can be an ugly place, with ugly people, standing on ugly soap boxes. I know this, you know it. So it shouldn't have been surprising that the bodies weren't even cold, before people were using this tragedy as an opportunity to mount said soap boxes to congratulate themselves on being right, to give their opinions and unsolicited advice, and to call out the idiocy of those who think differently.

 Never before in human history, have we been able to give our opinions so freely, to an available audience. This platform has evolved and developed so quickly, that we hardly recognize the gravity and impact our words have anymore. As a blogger, and a human online, I'm as guilty of this as anyone. It's easy to feel assured, and brave with our words behind a computer screen, where the effect of our words is unseen and unfelt by us in the moment. I'm still learning to be careful how I conduct myself online: not just what I say, but when I say it. Please let this be clear before I go any further; this post is not to call out any one specific person, but if you were guilty of this, this week, then I plead with you to examine yourself, and how you conduct yourself on this platform.

I understand to some extent, the controversy surrounding this event. It was the worst mass shooting in recent American memory. Was it terrorism? A hate crime? A gun control issue? To me, the outcome is still the same, 49 people are dead. However, it deeply troubles me, when I see people, Christians, more disturbed with the prospect of their guns being taken away, than the fact that 49 people entered eternity, and their loved ones are left reeling in their grief, questioning God, and seeking Him in this tragedy. Death is a profound, and serious matter, and should always be dealt with by the faithful, with brokenness, and humility. And love. Christ's love. Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus. He faced His own death with grief and agony. His followers should always be stones throw away, in the face of  death and grief:ready to receive the mourning with gravity, comfort, love and mercy. Instead this week, I saw a lot of pointing fingers, and insensitivity from Christians, that I love and respect. I saw very little empathy for the grieving, or evidence that these deaths affected them very much at all-at least, from what I saw, in Facebook posts. 

If you are reading this, maybe you were very much affected by this event. Maybe you gave blood, maybe you donated money, or your time, or dedicated your prayers to these families. However, ask yourself, does your Facebook page reflect this? Even if you didn't post, did you join an argument, or comment under an insensitive post? I almost did. I was a couple clicks away, before I stopped myself. It's easy when you're angry, or confused, or frustrated, but ask yourself, if you were facing this person in real life, would you say it to their face? Would you spout off about gun control in the face of a grieving sibling or parent of a victim? It is not that these things don't need to be spoken of. Like I said, there's a lot of controversy tied up in this incident, and I expect people will still be speaking of it in years to come. But now is not the time. Now is the time to mourn. 

I'm not saying that my timeline was representative of believers online as a whole, but for me, it was enough for me to close my computer in tears, wondering where God and His people were. I wonder who else thought this, and if they were someone who needed to see light a whole lot more than I did: and all they saw was an ugly soap box.

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