Starbucks. Kim Davis. Stethoscopes. Chick-fil-A. Clocks. Songs. Awards. Outfits. Jokes. Taylor Swift. Kanye. Premature Christmas decorating. Grinches who get upset about premature Christmas decorating. Flags. Removing flags. And lots and lot…and lots of slips of the tongue. An untimely joke. Good joke, wrong crowd. Saying the right thing, but the wrong way. Saying the right thing at the right time, but someone disagrees and suddenly it has 7 million views on YouTube.
What are we mad about again? I can’t keep up. And I’m not alone.
I’ve been busy. What are we unnecessarily outraged about now?
— Jim Gaffigan (@JimGaffigan) September 6, 2015
As a comedian, Gaffigan is no stranger to offense. And as a comedian, he can take joy it pointing out the ridiculousness of America’s true favorite pastime.
It’s exhausting. As a culture, I don’t know how we manage to have the energy to accomplish anything else. Maybe we don’t. Maybe that’s the answer to our unemployment and economic issues: to stop spending so much time and energy in outrage and boycotts.
No one group is any more to blame than others. Liberals are outraged at religious chicken. Conservatives spurn offensive coffee. Older generations boycott like there’s no tomorrow. Millennials are so PC and sensitive that some of the most well-known comedians of our day avoid performances on college campuses like the plague. We’re all mad about something. And as far as I can tell, it hasn’t accomplished much. Waffle fries and pumpkin spice lattes still abound and nobody has much to show for all their vitriol and grandstanding.
As Christians, I’m asking, begging, pleading for you to be different. Stand out from the world in the way God intends, as a beacon pointing toward a place of rest. Not just another storm to weather.
Don’t get caught up in angry group think. There are issues that are worth taking a stand for. Biblical issues. God-dictated issues. Do what’s right. Every day of the week, make sure you do what is right.
But for some cultural issues, it’s not as simple. Some issues matter more than others (I’ll leave you to decide which ones those are.) Sometimes there is no one right way to respond. It seems pretty safe to say that mass Internet bullying in the name of Christ is definitely a wrong way though. It’s fine to not support something that you find offensive. But it doesn’t always have to be a thing. It’s okay to appease your own conscience without trying to start a movement.
But go beyond that. Don’t just stay out of the fray, but be a light for good. Therea lot of good things happening. Point others to those things. Sometimes it takes work; the good can be difficult to find if you’re not used to looking for it. For most of us, it doesn’t come naturally (self-subtweet). Train yourself. Train your mind. Seek to find the positive things around you. Have something negative to say? Take a second to pause and don’t open your mouth until you have something positive to say instead. Compliment someone. Talk about the good God is doing in your life. In the life of others.
Follow the example of Paul. In the book of Philippians he’s dealing with all sorts of issues. Sickness. Prison. Slander. Bickering. Death. And what’s his takeaway? To rejoice. Over and over he speaks of his joy and encourages the church in Philippi to follow suit. “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I will say, rejoice”(Phil. 4:4). Paul’s life is filled with more than ample reason to be upset, but he chooses to be a voice of hope instead.
Don’t let yourself be angry all the time. Find the good in the world. And be patient with others. There’s not much worse than spending your time worrying about whether or not an accidental comment or unfortunate phrasing has offended someone. And there’s not much that relieves you more than having a friend who’s willing to see the heart of what you meant instead of whatever fool statement just came out of your mouth. Be that friend to others. Let them find peace in your company.
Christians have the greatest possible blessing. We have more reason than anyone to find joy in life. It’s the reason we believe what we believe and we have the hope we do. It’s what gives us strength when we’re feeling weak and how we find our meaning when we think there’s nothing in us. What a beautiful life. It’s not contingent on what’s going on in the world, but in the fact that Christ died for us and we belong to Him. And by the things so many of us choose to dwell on, you’d never know it. And that’s a crying shame.
Be different. Be a light. Be a breath of fresh air. Force others to ask you about “the hope that is in you” because they can’t ignore the joy that radiates from you. Because that will make a different. Far more than any boycott, and that I can promise.