Red cups, refugees and our rage (Part 1)

by Jesse Tink, Waterloo Campus Pastor at Prairie Lakes Church
Starbucks Red Cups

We were outraged at those baby-Jesus-hating Starbucks red cups: Just another attempt to take Christ out of Christmas! Tell ’em your name is “Merry Christmas” so they have to write it on there!

We were outraged at those who were outraged by those baby-Jesus-hating red cups: It’s not their job to keep Christ in ChristmasI It’s ours! Take some Christmas cookies and a Christmas Eve service invite card to your neighbors and shut up about it!

We were outraged at the idea we’d take in Syrian refugees without vetting them first: Why don’t we just roll out the red carpet for the terrorists?! Call your Congressperson!

We were outraged at the idea that we might not take them in: Matthew 25, people! The sheep and the goats! Jesus doesn’t include a vetting clause for the serving the “least of these”—just a warning of hell for us if we don’t!

Lots of outrage flying around these days. Swift and fierce.

Basically, the formula appears to be:

Us + Anything polarizing + Any social media platform = Get ready for an outrage broadcast.

And boy are we polarized. Politically. And religiously. In fact, The American Conservative, after analyzing some Pew Research data on how polarized our country truly is these two aspects, makes this observation: “There are still gains to be made for both parties by pursuing a strategy of religious polarization.”

In other words, most of us are now “outrage puppets.”

Outside groups know which of our strings to pull to get us squawking as their mouthpieces. Presidential campaign staffs, marketing teams, Super PACs and the ever-multiplying faux-news websites… they all look at us as potential megaphones that just need to be manipulated in the right way.

And we are, for the most part, more than happy to comply. We just can’t help but click on that “qpolitical” or “Breitbart” or “YoungCons” or “Huffpost” or “Buzzfeed” article that “proves” just how evil/backward/dangerous/unAmerican/misinformed the other side is. (And hey… how’d it know that I’m in the market for a new truck? Lemme just click and check that out for a few minutes….)

And then, of course, we forward that link or paste that article to every one of our social media outlets, coupled with some mostly horrified but also mostly self-righteous comment. My personal favorites are: “Come, Lord Jesus,” “Scary,” and/or “What do you expect when it’s illegal to pray in our schools?”

You can see the puppet strings attached to your fingers as they click that mouse and type on that keyboard, right?

Maybe a better question is this: Can you see who is pulling the strings on the other end?

It brings a certain passage of Scripture to mind—Romans 6:16: “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?”

For our purposes, you could substitute the word “puppets” in the verse above for the word “slaves.” We’re all slaves to someone. We’re all going to be someone’s puppet.

Now we absolutely hate to think that way about ourselves, I know. We’d much rather prefer to think of ourselves as “independent individualists” who objectively decide and come to whatever conclusions we come to.

But the truth is we’re not. We’re not completely independent. We were made with strings attached, as the passage from Romans describes. We will inevitably and naturally offer ourselves to someone or someones. And they will “master” us. They will to a large degree dictate where we go, what we say, how we think… AND: What we get outraged about.

In fact, that’s where our independence begins and ends, really: With the choice of who we will offer ourselves to; with the choice of who we will allow to pull our strings.

So, when it comes to our outrage, your outrage, who exactly is pulling on those strings these days?

When was the last time you stopped to really look at who is your “puppet master” before you clicked or typed?

You might be surprised by what you see.

Stay tuned for Jesse's second blog where he explores how Jesus handles his rage. Read it.

Learn more about Jesse here.

    Point - September 2018

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