Absorption versus Canceling
"Happy (Blessed) are you when people insult you and harass you and speak all kinds of
bad and false things about you, all because of me. Be full of joy and be glad, because you
have a great reward in heaven. In the same way, people harassed the prophets who came
before you." (Matthew 5:11-12, Common English Bible - CEB)
The current malaise in which we find ourselves is neither welcomed nor new. Nonetheless, the battle between whether something or someone should be canceled has seemingly fallen out of the sky into our laps of consciousness. Actually, the battle between canceling and absorption has been around since Genesis 3 and 4. The episode of the snake, the woman, and the man devolved into a blame game that exists to this day. Should we be surprised when one person blames another for their own failures or misgivings? in a word, no!
'He (God) said, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree, which I commanded you not to eat?” ”The man said, “The woman you gave me, she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate.” The Lord God said to the woman, “What have you done?!” And the woman said, “The snake tricked me, and I ate.” The Lord God said to the snake, “Because you did this, you are the one cursed out of all the farm animals, out of all the I wild animals. On your belly you will crawl, and dust you will eat every day of your life. will put contempt between you and the woman, between your offspring and hers. They will strike your head, but you will strike at their heels.” (Genesis 3:12-15, CEB)
Did you catch the unmentioned accusation against another in order to remove scrutiny?
Owning mistakes and or premeditated actions has been a difficult slope to ascend for humanity. We tend to not readily step forward and admit our own issues. As demonstrated in Genesis 3, it becomes a contest to see who can be chucked under the proverbial bus quicker. We posture and build our defense to offset another's position and all in the name of winning the battle. Cancel at all costs and leave a person or situation gasping for breath. The sensitive nature of words is and has been a point of contention. The author of James spoke of the tongue and it's ability to either build up or tear down.
"Consider ships: They are so large that strong winds are needed to drive them. But pilots direct their ships wherever they want with a little rudder. In the same way, even though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts wildly. Think about this: A small flame can set a whole forest on fire. The tongue is a small flame of fire, a world of evil at work in us. It contaminates our entire lives. Because of it, the circle of life is set on fire. The tongue itself is set on fire by the flames of hell. People can tame and already have tamed every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and fish. No one can tame the tongue, though. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison." (James 3:4-7, CEB)
While followers of Jesus are constrained to walk holy lives, it is a certainty that persecution will fall on each and every one. It won't be sought after nor will it be welcomed. It will come however. I believe Jesus was warning the listeners of the "Sermon on the Mount" in Matthew 5 of this formidable challenge to their walk of faith.
The notion that the 'world', that entity that doesn't fall under the lordship of Christ, wants to silence the Christian witness in the world is causing an uptick in contempt toward it. But, is that really what Jesus wants from his followers? I don't see Jesus instructing a militant body of believers who cancel those they disagree with and those who seek to damage the church. I see just the opposite.
A Samaritan Village Rejects Jesus
"When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him (Jesus), because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village. (Luke 9:51-56, ESV)
Be persecuted on account of my name is the directive Jesus offers. "NO WAY!", you say. Yes, the scriptures say. You might disagree and step forward with a stern rebuke of my interpretation of scripture. You have that right to do so. Your rebuke doesn't fit the narrative found in Luke 9 or Matthew 5 though.
Moving toward the best image for a believer in a cancel culture looks more like Jesus going to trial, absorbing the abuse of soldiers, receiving scorn, allowing nails to pierce his body, and ultimately praying for His abusers. "Forgive them Father, for they...." Hmm, that doesn't sound much like a Savior who marshals his forces for a blood bath of silencing and doing harm. Instead, I see a sacrificial lamb meekly becoming the object of every possible scorn known to humanity. Jesus absorbed it all. Let me say that again, "Jesus absorbed it all."
The old rarely sung hymn, "He Could Have Called 10,000 Angels" speaks to the power Jesus had to cancel those who sought to do Him harm. The lyrics finish the defense of absorption by saying, "but he died alone, for you and me."
In a world, that entity that doesn't bow its knee to Jesus, be people of faith and those destined to receive a blessing too big to measure. Speaking of the blessing that will come when another person or group seeks to cancel and censor you because you believe in Jesus. Allow God to intervene in our life to a degree that notions of cancel culture open our hearts to put on:
The Whole Armor of God
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:10-13, ESV)
"A Musing Pastor"
PS: A bridled tongue would be helpful too.