Occupy Wall Street is quite the buzz lately.
Social media is on cyber fire with it.
Talk radio either worships or attacks it.
Conservative news networks can’t figure it out.
Liberal news networks can’t see any flaws.
I guess what ruffles my feathers has something to do with the bottomline (another buzzword).
I’ll go ahead and make this personal. If I am passionate about something, I would hope it is something that has three qualities 1) truth 2) significance and 3) possibility.
Let me break it down.
I’m not going to protest a point that has been proven false. Neil Armstrong did walk on the moon, the Holocaust did unfortunately happen, and Al Gore did not create the internet. I like to think we can use the brains God gave us to decipher fact from fiction. There’s a lot that doesn’t get into the news headlines that might or might not be worthy of a protest (personal or otherwise) and that’s where 1 Thessalonians 5 comes in oh-so-handy.
Paul reminds his brothers and sisters of their secure salvation and identity as children of the light. He encourages them to live peacefully with one another, rejoice always, and pray continually. Then he says in verses 20-22, “Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.”
Not everything we hear is true.
I know, it sounds crazy. Paul wanted his brothers and sisters to be discerning about everything and holding firmly ONLY to what is good (This begs a more lengthy discussion for what we determine to be good). In Galatians 1, Paul cautioned the people against “other gospels” preached by angels or even himself. We must have a discerning filter, even with people we trust.
Only with a serious pursuit of the Lord (Creator and Living Word) can we have the type of discernment that will allow us to know what is good/evil and true/false. In the same way we can discern spiritual matters of the heart, we are able to discern matters of society.
From a simple study in household income demographics, one can conclude that people living in the United States are easily part of the 1 and not 99 percent.
You might say that the second naturally follows the first. If something is true, it is significant by default. Hm. Maybe some things that are true are not significant.
I am sitting on a sofa right now.
Is this truth significant?
(Please don’t answer that it implies such and such about who I am and where I come from… it happens to be raining in the Midwest right now, which means the tractors are in their sheds and we are praying against snow.)
There are certain truths that are significant because they reflect our relationship with our Creator and with others. God has been so good to give us His Word, by which we can grasp (Ephesians 5) His glorious and mysterious redemption story. Significance, I believe, starts there.
Then, we’ve got to take that beautiful gem called discernment into taxi cabs and general stores and news headlines to understand what God would call significant in our everyday lives. What would He say is worth our energy, time, and treasure?
Is the truth that some people in the world make a lot more money than other people in the world significant?
I would say it could be.
That leads us to quality numero tres: possibility. It would seem pretty silly for me to protest the idea that everyone should sit on refrigerator boxes instead of furniture. Silly because it is not significant, but also because there is slim to none chance that I could ever recruit people to think furniture is a bad idea (apart from the hipster crowd who might jump on the trend wagon until they find something irresistible at a thrift store that would almost be evil to NOT sit on).
Here’s an example (to throw another hot-button issue in them mix): I’m not going to protest abortion clinics and I’ll tell you why (after I give you time to throw up your hands or furrow you brow or decide whether to read on…. done?).
I’m not saying I support the practice of abortion. What I am saying is that the presence of abortion clinics and women who use them reveals an issue deeper than any legislative reform could ever reach. It reveals an issue of the heart. It reveals the way we view the sanctity of human life.
The belief that each and every human being has an inviolable dignity and immeasurable worth is one of the most precious legacies of biblical faith to the world.
It profoundly elevates the way human beings view and treat one another.
It restrains the darkest impulses that course within our fallen nature.
Every day for millennia it has both saved lives and enriched their quality.
Indeed, it provides the bedrock upon which the moral and legal codes of our culture and much of the world have been built.
He goes on to explain why the sanctity of life is worth protecting – apart from politics and debates. Gushee looks at the history of human dignity from the pages of the Old Testament. It is something oh-so-wonderful to be made in the image of God!
What I am getting at here is this: One does not fix a broken chair by getting a new chair (equally susceptible to breaking). The possibility for fixing the chair greatly increases by admitting the chair is broken and that there can be a solution.
The real Wall Street problem is not a few people with big money. The real Wall Street problem is people. The possibility for fixing the Wall Street problem greatly increases if we admit people are sinful. This is a heart issue.
And this, friends, is what ruffles my feathers. We spend a whole lot of time, energy, and perfectly good posterboard to protest … well, sin.
We may not recognize it, but what rumbles up inside of us when someone has what we want… that’s called coveting. A rich man can covet as easily as a poor man. A socialite can envy someone as easily as a nobody. A prosperous businessman can offer a bribe as easily as a shady used car salesman. A millionaire can misuse his money as easily as a beggar.
I’m into bottomlines. Here’s one that is true and significant:
we are of the 100%
we are all sinners
Where’s the possibility?
We can be saved by grace.
And, yes, I can get passionate about that.
UPDATE: Just in case you don’t catch the comments on this post, my friend Scot Hekman at Slow Sand posted this article from the Economist, “Leaderless, consensus-based participatory democracy and its discontents.”