This is a reboot of the conversation on faith that wrestles. The first post is here.
Projection is as much a part of being human as breathing. We all do it, since we cannot help viewing things through the lens of our experiences. However, as we grow up, and particularly as we grow spiritually the desire, followed by the skill to temper that impulse, should grow as well.
This culture however, offers us every opportunity to spend our entire lives projecting our issues onto other people, judging, and engaging in smug, self-righteous finger pointing while neglecting to confront sin in our own lives. The Internet exacerbates this tendency for obvious reasons. I don’t want to park here yet, although I will return to this point. When our older girls were young I told them often:
“Respect others’ right to be different from you.”
General principles of right and wrong are one thing. Expecting that to translate into the same look for others as it does for you means you’ve overstepped your boundaries. To the extent that you need to pick someone apart over the insignificant, it reveals discomfort with yourself, your choices, and your life, regardless of claims to the contrary..
With our younger children I find a different lesson emerging more often and it’s very helpful that it can be quoted verbatim from the pages of Scripture. Paul admonishes those who judge others for the very things that they themselves do:
in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?
To use a well known colloquialism: The pot calling the kettle black may annoy me, but more than that, it annoys God.
I also recently reminded them how strongly God hates our complaining, using Numbers 21 as an example. We err when we presume upon the grace we have been freely given and use it as an excuse to live a life without intention, ignoring the “minute” sins we engage in daily. Sins which we condemn in others and yet excuse in ourselves. Everywhere you look, listen and read, our culture is full of this. Complaining is the most ubiquitous.
Women complain about men complaining about women. Men complain about women who complain about men. Whites complain about blacks who complain about whites while both complain about Hispanics. Democrats complain about Republicans complaining about Democrats. Communists and Alternative Righters complain about them both. News articles and programs are speculation masquerading as facts. OpEds are mistaken for news, and we are constantly invited to point and stare at personal train wrecks made news which in years’ past we were able to live blissfully unaware.
Whole forums and platforms are chiefly dedicated to picking apart and condemning others for their views, lifestyles and choices. On and on they go. The most ironic and catchy title is one called ‘Get Off My Internets.” Christians, who should know better, have increasingly joined the fray.
I’ve made a pretty big push over the last couple of months to eliminate these kinds of things from my life, but as I noted before, old habits die hard, and it’s very hard to un-know something once you know it. None of this is to say that it is wrong to commiserate online or offer commentary on controversial topics. I have no intention of fully withdrawing.
It is, however, becoming increasingly obvious to me how much happier are the people who live blissfully ignorant; not only of news which they can do nothing about, but without a care in the world with regard to anyone but Christ’s opinion -along with those they are truly accountable to- about what they do, what they think, and how or whether they express it.
It’s one thing to understand clearly and without wavering that stealing is wrong, that lying is wrong, that divorce is bad, or that murder is evil. It’s also wise to be willing to acknowledge that not all choices are equal regardless of circumstance. These are things that we should encourage one another in so that we all come to a fuller measure of faith. Too often however, we use the worldly maxim “public knowledge means fair game” to allow ourselves a wide berth in condemning others without ever once stopping to consider how we might feel if we were in their shoes.
All of this points to something we neglect to consider. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, so too do our spirits. Absent the spiritual sustenance we need to think on the Beautiful, the intellectual stimulation we need to think on the True, and physical challenge required to keep us actively productive, we’re left with nothing more than spiritual death, mental junk, and physical atrophy.
This approach to life outside of eternal matters and minding our own business is greatly underrated: