I wonder if it’s time to shut down my social network page.
You know the one I mean. New stories are added every few moments. Anniversaries are noted, birthdays announced. One friend is angry at the news media. Another is fed up with evil doctors and wants to be sure I understand the value of something called essential oils. Photos of cute kitties magically appear. There are also awful images of abused dogs, or horses, or turtles.
And constantly, along the side of the computer display, a feed runs down the page, with little bits of information appearing magically, one right after the other. So-and-so likes this; he posted this; she commented about this.
TMI! I’ve learned the acronym, in days long past now.
Too much information!
My brain screams the words, even as I devour said information. Without intent, I now know that my old friend’s son believes drug use to be acceptable and even desirable. Another acquaintance vilifies followers of Christ and ridicules the very idea of a God, any God. It’s time to party-hearty with old school classmates. Jokes abound, both in print and picture form. I may or may not have contributed some of these.
And the language! Used-to-be children that I bounced on my knee use words we once would have expected to make a sailor blush. Now, no one blushes.
At times, my brain actually feels soiled, as if a good cleansing with Ivory soap and clean water might make it better.
I should turn it off.
I sit and think. Another acronym comes to mind. It is an old, tired set of letters, once found on bumper stickers, mugs, and bracelets. Unlike the acronym above, it is not followed by an exclamation point, but a question mark. So overused, it has become a joke to many; still it bears another look.
It requires some contemplation.
We know the answer already, don’t we? He spent His days and nights in the center of the population, participating in the discourse of the day. He didn’t waste a lot of time with the nodding, gesturing clergy, but He interacted with the cursing, drinking, perverse people. Every day.
I wonder–did His brain feel dirty from the filth and stench, too?
In the center of the Agora, the marketplace, the plan to change the world was implemented. One by one, ten by ten, thousands by thousands, He intersected their daily lives with the truth, with love, with companionship.
The world would never be the same.
Still, I’m not excited about the route this marketplace living takes sometimes.
I’m not comfortable.
Funny. We talked about comfortable just the other day, didn’t we? The couch is comfortable. Bed is comfortable. The back deck is comfortable. Your house shoes and pajamas are comfortable. You just can’t accomplish anything in them.
In my mind’s eye, I look back over the path I’ve walked. I think I’ve walked it asking to know WWJD. A long look back focuses on the direction the steps have taken.
Did I take a sharp turn from the lane somewhere? How did I get here, in the marketplace, virtually and actually? The social network I want to switch off is not so far removed from the retail space in which I labor six days a week. Oh, folks try to control their language, knowing who I claim to be, but what is hidden inside always comes out eventually. The language, the ideas, the lifestyles can’t be disguised behind the facades forever. Am I supposed to be here?
Again, I glance back. No. My footsteps have led, one weary stride after another, in the same direction. I could not have found another route that would lead to my goal.
I walk in the marketplace. You probably do too.
How do we act while here? Do we hurry through, as if afraid that we’ll get dirty too? Do we loiter in the dark corners, participating in the filth and immorality? Would we rather avoid it altogether?
All of the sudden, I find myself wondering about comfort again. The realization hits about my comments above. The day I get comfortable is the day I lose sight of who I am and why I’m here in the marketplace. The minute I think I’m home and kick my shoes off to put on my slippers is the instant I’ve stopped walking the path set out for me.
If the marketplace doesn’t make us uncomfortable, perhaps we need to lace up our walking shoes again and look ahead of us.
There is more. People need us up and doing. Where they are.
I’m ready. You?
Just so you know, though, I’m not looking at your selfies of your latest visit to the dentist. Some things really are too much information.
“I simply argue that the cross should be raised at the center of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church. I am recovering the claim that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves; on the town’s garbage heap; at a crossroad so cosmopolitan they had to write His title in Hebrew and Latin and Greek…at the kind of a place where cynics talk smut, and thieves curse, and soldiers gamble. Because that is where He died. And that is what He died for. And that is what He died about. That is where church-men ought to be and what church-men ought to be about.”
(George McLeod ~ Scottish pastor ~ 1895-1991)
“Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals. Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning, for some have no knowledge of God.”
(I Corinthians 15:33,34 ~ NASB)