From the Pastor…

I doubt many people were very surprised to learn that personal information they had given to FaceBook had ended up in the hands of people who wanted to exploit it for personal gain. You might not have been happy about it, but we know that the entire American economic system is based on the exploitation of our needs and desires in order to entice us to buy things.

Similarly, most of us are cynical enough to imagine that there are many people who, given the opportunity, would use social media to sow discord in the American electorate in order to so focus our energies against one another that our country has a weaker position in the world. We might have varying opinions as to who hacked into social media accounts to spread disinformation or whom they were seeking to benefit, but the goal of creating discord is too obvious to be denied.

The exploitation of individuals and the sowing of discord between groups are simply realities with which we must deal. They are not, however, traits that Christians can tolerate among themselves. When the mother of James and John asked for the places of honor for her sons when Jesus became king and the other disciples had gotten angry when they learned of it, Jesus said, “You know the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you, but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 20:25b-27).

Regardless of your political persuasion, religious affiliation, or stance regarding social media, I think you would agree that we are not seeing many examples of the kind of servant leadership that Jesus expected of his followers. If we are going to be more like the Master we will be hard pressed to find role models on the public scene. We will have to look elsewhere.

So let’s look among ourselves. With Jesus as our ultimate standard, let’s find people to emulate who are servants of others. They may not be prominent, popular, or celebrated, but they are there.

Look for examples of Christians who, instead of exploiting others for personal gain, go out of their way to make the lives of others easier. You may find a few among the rich who seek to use their fortunes to solve the world’s ills, but they are more likely to be found among the materially modest who use limited resources in generous ways.

Look for examples of Christians who, instead of sowing discord by pitting one group against another, invest their energies in seeking to bring people together across political, economic, social, and racial divides. This may be the hardest and most thankless task that anyone could take on today, with so many refusing even to consider the possible validity of any position other than their own, but these people keep trying. They know it is what, as Christians, we are called upon to do.

There are formidable forces at work in our world, seeking to exploit and disrupt. Trying to create a more peaceful and respectful culture may be a fool’s errand, but we can join Paul in becoming “fools for Christ’s sake” (1 Corinthians 4:10).

And while you are looking for role models, people who embody the Spirit of Christ in ways that stand in sharp contrast to those of the world, consider that, as a Christian, you are called to model these simple characteristics yourself. Be assured that others are looking at you and judging the validity of Christianity by how they see it displayed in you. Do you look more like Christ or like the exploitative and disruptive forces at work among us today?