Speak Up!

One of the many issues that have emerged in our post-pandemic culture is that in our eagerness to put all of the trauma of the pandemic behind us, we've never really taken stock of the collateral damage that still exists in our society. 

One such area of concern for sociologists and psychologists is the lack of meaningful connections between people, which can result in ever-increasing isolation, loneliness, and a deterioration of mental health. 

We live in an age of anxiety.  More people are walking around with low-grade depression than at any other time in U.S. history.  

And for Jesus-followers this presents a unique opportunity to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world, if we are willing to embrace it.  

Recently, I read a remarkable passage from a book by Kate Bowler, who addressed this very thing: 

Our neighbors are expressing an aching desire to feel less alone, needing language for the pain they've experienced, searching for meaning and someone to tell them the truth.  They are hungry for honesty in an age of shellacked social media influencers.  They are desperate for a thicker kind of hope that can withstand their circumstances and embolden them to preach the truth of our resurrected Lord, whose future kingdom will have no tears and no pain and no Instagram at all. 

There is so much good news in Bowler's words here.  She doesn't shy away from addressing the issue, but there's also an exhortation here for Jesus-followers filled with hope and joy.  

In a culture that seems to be filled with the dishonesty of social media, a lack of civility, and a dearth of thoughtful Christian voices speaking the truth about Jesus' love and God's amazing grace, those who have words of life need to be speaking them. 

Now is not the time to shrink back because when we do, the loud, angry, divisive voices of people who purport to be Christian and yet seem to deny Jesus by both word and deed are the only ones that people hear. 

Not to mention the fact that there are far too many "shellacked social media influencers" out there who present themselves to the world with a view of success that glosses over the reality of pain and the struggle to stay "put together" when it feels like the world is falling apart. 

And even when many of these influencers share their struggles, it often feels contrived.  There is a shallowness that seems cynical at best and manipulative at worst. 

Our neighbors need us in our most authentic and most faithful versions of ourselves.  We can't be afraid to speak about our faith's role in our lives, and the power that Christ has to transform us, make us new and give us hope and peace.  

In a culture where honesty and authenticity are hard to come by, we can be lights in the darkness and help show the world what it looks like when God's shalom permeates all of Creation, including us. 

So find ways to speak to your neighbors, friends, co-workers, and loved ones about what the risen Christ has done in your own life.  Speak to them about the joy of being part of a faith community that attempts to fully follow Jesus.  

Speak words of life because the world needs that now more than ever, and we can't afford to be quiet about it any longer. 

May it be so, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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