I had to do a lot of laundry this week. I needed an empty soap box to stand on while I wrote this blog. I don’t usually find an issue that bothers me so much that I have to publically express my opinion. Keep reading, this isn’t a political rant – we’ve had enough of those lately. No, what really ticked me off was a video on Facebook. I have a FB account, mostly so I can cyber-stalk my family and friends. I rarely post comments or put up photos but I love to see what others are doing; they always seem to have a much more exciting life than mine.
I know many people lament the intrusion of social media in our lives. It consumes a lot of time that could be used to have face-to-face conversations. But, one of the good pieces is being able to share an event with millions of people within a matter of hours – they call it going viral. Some events are good and make you smile while others show the worst behaviors and make you angry. That’s what I felt, anger, when I viewed the video of an intoxicated white male berating and vilifying a Muslim family on a beach in Texas. I was shocked as this man screamed obscenities and made threatening gestures to an innocent family trying to enjoy an afternoon at the beach. Their crime? Being Muslim. And if his language and aggressive behavior wasn’t enough, he ended his tirade by saying, “You won’t take away my Christianity.” As soon as I hear that sentence, my mouth fell opened…I was stunned. He claimed to be a Christian and used that as the excuse for inexcusable behavior. My immediate thought was, you don’t represent my view of Christianity and then I was struck by an even worse thought; millions who viewed this will think that is how a Christian thinks and behaves. And what really saddened me was no one came to this family’s defense. There wasn’t one person who was willing to step forward and say – Stop, Christians do not behave that way.
Okay, I’m putting my soap box in the closet and bringing out my confessional booth. We at 1stPres have adopted “Love1st” as how we describe our church to the community. What I fail at is putting “Love1st” to action. It is easy to say but much harder to live. If I had been on the beach that day, I wouldn’t have had the courage to intervene. I didn’t even have the courage to write a comment on Facebook. And truth be told, I am no better than the man on the beach when I get angry at another driver who cuts me off in traffic or drives inattentively. My only saving grace is no one is filming me. None of us are perfect but we are forgiven; even the man on the beach, who later apologized, is redeemable.
I’ll keep working on living out our Mission Statement, sometimes I’ll get it right and other times I’ll fail miserably (hopefully when that happens, no one is filming it!). But I’ll keep trying. Perhaps remembering the lyrics to one of my favorite hymns will help. “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love. Yeah they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”