A Short Walk from Cat Videos to the Cross

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    Social media and the news are the worst.

    They’re the best at bloating issues beyond the recognition of truth; they’re the best at reporting facts from an agenda that benefits the highest bidder.  They’re also the best at providing false information that seeks only to divide and conquer.  So basically, they’re the worst.

    Social media is about Covid-19, the upcoming election, racial unrest, or any related events, and the most truthful and authoritative posts are the endless supply of cat videos.  News is covered with an agenda and an angle and spinning the truth is the rule rather than the exception.

    Unless you’ve been in a coma for last 9 months, you know what it’s like to live in a global pandemic.  The uncertainty of interrupted daily processes has been a constant companion, and many have come to accept the changes that have permeated their lives since March 2020.  Add to this the conflict and chaos that a presidential election year brings, and the result is questioning what is really true, and what can I trust in?  Conspiracy theories abound. Each political party’s followers can tell exactly why the other party can’t be trusted.  Financial uncertainty looms over the heads of many.

    So where is Jesus in all of this?  Where can a believer find solace and comfort? What is the truth? How can I take all the bad stuff I see around me and make sense out of it?  Thinking about this brings to mind the biblical story of Job.  Successful in every way, Job’s life suddenly turns on a dime, he loses it all and even his health declines so that he’s scraping body sores with broken pottery.  Pretty awful.  But then three of his friends come to tell him how he can do better and what he has done wrong for these terrible things to happen to him. Great story, huh?  That’s not the end, thankfully.  Another friend named Elihu comes to talk to Job.  Instead of saying, Yes, sometimes the wicked prosper, believers suffer, and one day we’ll know why, Elihu brings the why to now.

    He shares that Job was a righteous man.  You may know people you consider to be righteous and as believers, we are being changed into righteousness.  But even righteous people aren’t perfect; they still have changing to do.  Suffering is a method to a greater end — being purified and changed to become more like Jesus.  Kind of like how silver or gold is heated up and boiled so that the impurities come to the top and can be scooped off.  Suffering opens up your ears to be still and listen.  There is no punishment for the child of God; he may need spiritual surgery and discipline, but he is never punished.  God is not our enemy, he is our loving father.

    So although it seems crazy, as Elihu shared with Job, we can welcome suffering because it is making us more like what God wants us to be.  The disciples that followed Jesus came when he said, “Take up your cross, and follow me.”  They had no idea what would lay ahead for them, but the reality of the call was a gruesome one.  In biblical days, the cross was not a pretty pendant to wear on a chain, but a reminder of a tool that produced a terrible death.  The disciples experienced suffering through their walk with Jesus, things like beatings, stonings, death, imprisonment, as well as social stigma and groups of people calling them names and threatening violence. But yet through this they were joyful, because they could see how they were being transformed into the righteousness God wanted for them.

    So where is Jesus in all of this?  Where can a believer find solace and comfort? What is the truth? How can I take all the bad stuff I see around me and make sense out of it?  Rather than lament the suffering I perceive in my life, I want to be still and let my ears be opened to the changes I need to make.  One change I’m ready to make is to take seriously the call for every believer (me) to take up their cross daily and follow Jesus.  Sharing the grace, love, and truth of God is what I want to do.  So you may see me sharing stories of my faith, meaningful songs or verses, but I always want to show love, grace, and truth.  Not sure if people unfriending me counts as suffering, and fighting censorship may be the hardest battle I face.   I’m here to talk about Jesus, because I truly believe that the time is short before Jesus returns, and I want to share as much about him as I can in the time I have.

     

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