Do you get several forwarded emails per day from your friends filled with outrages regarding our “dying” culture? I do. Add to that the myriad of Facebook posts sharing a cleverly worded poem, a scathing video, or someone’s blog about how bad our society has deteriorated. Alarm signals constantly ring through our social media. We “drink” the whine. Then, we get riled up, pass it along to rile others up, and wait for the next one to come that we can share. A lot of whining, but not very effective.
I get so tired of receiving those forwarded emails. Rather than passing those emails along, I delete them. I don’t even read them first. Please don’t be offended if you have sent me several of those forwarded “pray about our broken culture” emails in the past month. And, I skip those Facebook posts. I consider them to be a waste of my time. They might be a waste of your time, too.
Yes, our culture is broken; it has been for 6,000 years. That’s nothing new. And, yes, we need to be praying that our God will be actively at work in our culture. But, guess what? He chooses to do that through us—you and me individually—as we build into the lives of those around us who need to know Jesus. Yep. I am saying to those who send those emails and share those posts, “Stop whining and start befriending.”
Could this be a symptom of laziness on our part (me included!)? It’s easier and far more comfortable to whine about our culture and pass around those emails to “warn” everyone about the bad that is going on around us than it is to intentionally pray for, spend time with, and share our faith with the neighbor right next door who is far from the God who created her. Yet, that is what Jesus commissioned each of us to do. And, last time I looked, individually sharing Christ with your neighbor is still legal in the United States. It’s laziness on our part to focus on whining rather than get focused on befriending the one who is already near us and sharing with her the freedom and joy she can have in knowing Jesus.
I am not saying we should not take action when it is possible to change the outcome of a situation in our culture. We have many rights including the right to vote and let our voice be made known to those who are in authority over us. I am saying we should take action where it is always possible for us to make a difference—those who are already in our daily walk of life. Neighbors, sports team members, mothers of our children’s friends, workmates. People we see on a regular basis.
Yes, we have good intentions; we know we should love them and occasionally we think about praying for them. But, good intentions are worthless until put into action, until we become intentional at carrying them out. Strategic. Planned. Like putting the names of the ones next door who don’t know Jesus on a “Pray and Watch” list—praying for the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts and draw them to Jesus while watching for opportunities to interact with them. Being intentional about spending time with them. Can you imagine what would happen if we really believed that we could make a difference far beyond passing along an alarmist message?!
My husband suggested that I compose a standard response to every one of those “see how bad our culture is” emails or posts. I am still working on that. It might go something like this, “You just spent a couple of minutes reading that email you sent me then forwarding it to your group list. Did you also spend two minutes praying for your neighbor who needs to know Jesus and planning a time to get together with her?” Sounds harsh, doesn’t it? Oh well, I probably need to soften it up some. Like I said, I am still working on it.
It’s a trap, this whining and pointing fingers at our culture because it doesn’t meet our expectations. Reminds me of how movies portray women when they see a mouse—jumping up on a chair, stomping feet up and down, hands waving in the air and yelling. Makes for a good movie scene but not very effective for getting rid of the mouse.
I think Jesus has a better use of our time and skill—each of us regularly reaching one new person for Christ who will reach another person for Christ who will reach another person for Christ. Stop drinking the whine; start being intentional.