Maybe I'm getting old, but I don't remember everybody hating everybody else. When I was younger there were people who got hot, but I don't recall people being so nasty. Spend any time on the social media outlets and you will find people angry about something. They hate what they don't think is right and hate the people who disagree with them. And then a few minutes later, they hate the people who don't necessarily disagree but don't completely agree with every point. A few more minutes and they hate everybody and everything. . . except themselves and their own thoughts.
Sometimes this hate is hidden behind a cloak of complaint. There's always something wrong. There's always an injustice. There's always an enemy of some kind. There's always a need to vent publicly and then say, "it's just venting" when people call it out.
Just this week I saw an Olympian use her platform to make a statement against the police in the US. Then others complained about her statements. Still others argued against the complainers. I also saw a string of people complaining about the coverage of women in the Olympics. Of course I've seen way too many people arguing politics. Name calling. Gun rights. Abortion rights (if there truly is such a thing). Problems with education. Problems with cable companies. Problems with people. Problem with systems. Problems with problems. (Even now I'm pointing out a problem. I'd like to think I'm different, but I'm not.)
Why do we have such a problem? Why do we hate anything that's against our ideas. Why is anything that is no "me" so intolerable?
I would like to offer than we are defending our idols. People seem to get the hottest when what is most important object of our worship is in jeopardy. I'm not saying that gun rights or who can use which bathroom or any particular candidate is what's important. These things are not the idols. Not politics. Not guns. Not sexual behavior. If we cut through it all, what we'll find is our actual idol. The one we whore ourselves to. And just what or who is our idol? Ourselves. Yup. The god of "me."
We argue and complain because like the people in the time of the book of Judges, we are doing what we think is right in our own eyes. And it's not what we are doing that's important to us, but that we get to sit in the place that says what is right, what is worthy of praise, and what all others should bow down and worship. Most the people I know (and sometimes even myself) want people to worship the god we worship--ourselves.
Is this why people get so bent out of shape when they drive? Is it what motivates our actions on Facebook? Is this what's behind it all? Even as I'm writing this for my website, I have to question if I want people to value this post in such a way as to value me as a false god? I hope not, but it's possible. I'm sinful like the rest of creation.
Interestingly, Romans chapter 1 deals with the ramifications of self-worship. It's bad. People exchange truth for a lie and trade in God for a false god. Then Romans 1:28-32 points the finger at us today, saying,
"And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not be done. They were filed with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanders, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them."
That sounds about right. What's the answer to this problem?
The Bible speaks of mortifying sin. Killing it. There's lots of talk of repenting from this evil way and turning to Jesus. And then there's the picture we see in Gideon. In Judges (that book where everybody was doing what they defined as right), Gideon is called to destroy the false idols in his father's house. You can read about it in Judges 6. When the town woke to find their idols tore down, they were mad. Really man. But in the end, the false gods were left to defend themselves. Nothing happened because the false gods are no gods at all.
I wonder if this is what we are doing. As we simultaneously identify ourselves as god and then worship the false god of "me," we take up a defensive position. We are actually trying to defend our position as our own idol as others try to do the same by cutting us down. Is this what we see on Facebook? Twitter? So the answer might be that it's time to stop defending and start killing. It's time to tear down the false idol of self. It's time to worship the one, true God.
I suspect when we do this, we'll find the peace and joy the god of self seems to withhold. We'll find the power for real transformation into the image of Jesus that the god of self is powerless to deliver. And in the end, we'll find life, real life in Christ's name. Because there is no other name and no other God able to giving us life and life to the fullest.