Sorry, I left you for a bit. Things got wonky, and as Nick Hornby wrote, “I lost the plot for awhile, then.”
I want to share something with you that has kept me relatively sane as a Follower of Jesus and a person who tries to stay on top of the culture changing around me. It’s from the ancient Hebrew text of the Prophet Isaiah.
12 Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what it fears, or be in dread. 13 But the Lord of hosts, him you shall regard as holy; let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. -Isaiah 8:12-13-
I seem to hear myself telling people all the time to be aware of false narratives. I have much experience with these things as I have been aware of the propensity of people to make up whatever facts they need to in order to press home their point since I was a teenager. We live in a turbulent sea of opinion and doubtful facts and while it is true that you need to find a source you can trust, it is also true that almost everyone has an agenda they are pushing or a fear they are trying to cover up. And now with the rise of social media we are awash in rage and vitriolic, anonymous reaction and point of view. I wish the mainstream media was more pure, but POV journalism has changed the West, and not for the better. In fact, if you are not skilled in rhetoric, I suggest you read a book or be bamboozled by those who can twist a logical fallacy into a giant hook to pull you in. So many of the wells of truth are poisoned that it’s desperately hard to make a real informed decision.
Now, take the polarization and division among Americans these days. There are two narratives at work in our culture, driven by the media both social and mainstream, and they are driving us to distraction and possibly destruction because, simply, they are both false. Call them left and right or blue and red, it doesn’t matter, they both carry some truth for those of us who are Disciples of the Risen Lord, and they both are tainted nearly beyond any practicable use by the inherent lies they both carry. And we are so angry that I won’t even list those lies here because they are actually beside my point.
Again, from the ancient Hebrew spiritual codex, we have the story of the Prophet Elijah who ends up on a mountain after fending off a particularly difficult depressive episode.
11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” -I Kings 19:11-13
I always thought that was a weird question. Didn’t He just send Elijah up there? Anyway, that’s another blog topic. The wind and earthquake and fire all come to where Elijah is expecting a sign and yet, the Lord isn’t in those things. This is important because culturally, the followers of the Baal cults, in fact the followers of nearly every religion that existed at the time, only recognized divinity in the material world. A powerful wind, an earthquake and a fire in the sky, lightning maybe, would all be divine omens, that was the narrative of the culture; but the Voice, the Gentle Whisper was not in them.
The narrative voices of our culture are tremendous and terrifying, but the Whisper is something else entirely. He gives us a narrative that follows it’s own track and we who claim to follow Him would do well to remember that we are pilgrims of the narrow road. One narrative seems to carry compassion in it’s voice. It sings sweetly to us of helping others and accepting peoples differences, but it carries a false hope for Christ followers. It leaves out the fact that money, education and a powerful, benevolent federal presence can never change hearts or heal families. They might help, but ultimately they are doomed to failure. History shows it.
The Whisper reminds us of false gods.
Another voice ferociously stands up for morality and individual rights. It bellows out that we must protect our walls with strength, that our families are in danger from sinful people, perversion, and the corruption of our pure values. It sings to us of holiness and the law, but it has led us down a path of destruction and loss. It has forgotten that true purity and Holiness comes from loving others and serving our fellow man.
The Whisper reminds us that if our politics or religion steals our ability to love, it’s time to change our politics and religion.
The God narrative is very different than the world’s narrative. It leads us to high mountain passes where the air is clean and crisp. It sends us on grand adventures, sometimes in solitude in peace, sometimes against the enemies of Jesus and His teaching, be they authorities, educators or preachers.
The God narrative leads you by whisper and hand up a narrow path to stand on a ledge in the face of storms and earthquakes and mobs.
The Whisper is a little bit crazy.
But He loves you.
And who wants to live a boring life in the crowd, anyway? Come on in, the water’s fine.