Recently, my son had his first encounter with online bullying. In some game he plays, another player didn’t like, what he was doing and texted him in the in-game chat. The insults, my son had to read, shocked his world and destroyed some of its innocence. I won’t repeat them here, but suffice it to say, they were meant to hurt and they succeeded. As much as I did not enjoy, seeing my son devastated, it was a good opportunity for me, to show him, that people are not always nice.
Every now and then, I meet people, who say, “I am a Christian, but I don’t go to church.” Very seldom, they just moved and are still looking for a church, they can attend. All to often, they simply left their old church for all kinds of reasons. And the bottom line of all these stories is, that someone hurt someone else. (Surprisingly often, not even them personally. X hurts Y, so Z leaves, while X and Y stay, to settle their dispute.) I don’t like these stories. For one, we as individuals are not the Body of Christ. Only the corporate We is. So, leaving a church is leaving (that part of) the Body of Christ. And then, leaving is not biblically. Being called away to something else is. So don’t tell me, where you come from, tell me, where you are going to. Even, when you are disappointed, that people did bad things.
Recently, I saw a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon, where the two are discussing, if humans are good people, who sometimes do bad things, or bad people, who sometimes do good things. They settle on crazy as a third option. And it is not easy to say. We would love to be good with some minor flaws. But to be honest, when I look into my innermost, I find a dark abyss not a shiny light. And the things I do, are rarely good. I just manage to cover my selfishness. And when I don’t succeed and I hurt others, I desire their mercy. (All to often, I even see myself as entitled to it.) If you just new my story… But when someone else acts similarly, I am shocked by how bad people are. It turns out, that our way to look at others, has a strong influence on how happy we can be. Always expect the best of others, and you will constantly be disappointed. (But don’t do that with yourself. Expect nothing and let people celebrate you for every half decent thing you do.) Or accept, that everyone (especially you) is selfish and evil. Then nothing will shock you. How could he do that?! Simple, he is not a good person. A soldier committed war crimes? No surprise here. A corrupt politician? Old news. If you assume the worst, you can marvel at everything, that does not follow that pattern. Someone being kind and merciful? Let’s celebrate that. A soldier, who serves others and not his own desires? That’s a reason for Veterans Day. A politician, who does not only talk about morals, but lives by them? Vote for them. And let’s not act surprised, when they later do something bad. It is in their and our nature. Doing good, is in God‘s. Encouragement is far more effective than punishment. That’s why Paul tell us to encourage one another. We are a Church full of people with a fallen nature. We do what we do, because the neighbor, we love as ourselves is we. Let us finally acknowledge that. But then, let us encourage to follow God‘s Nature instead. Let us bless each other and encourage one another to be a blessing. But, let us not be so naive, to expect perfect behavior, just to be disappointed by the truth. Rather, let us celebrate, when God’s nature breaks through.