…you’ve got to replace it with the truth.” –  paul hewson (aka: bono)

i have seen a number of blog posts and tweets recently that have stated something along the lines of directing your energy toward the things you’re for, instead of what you’re against.  yesterday at church, pastor katie martinez eloquently stated that while critics play an important part in our society, “nobody has ever built a monument to a critic.”  she went on to show pictures of st. peter’s basilica  and gave an excellent sermon on biblical hero, the apostle peter, who was “all in” when it came to serving God (from the series “heroes are not made, they’re broken”), despite being broken for all the church (for all of history) to see.

"...love, lift me up out of these blues..."

Paul Hewson, circa 2005

eugene cho (pastor of quest, founder one days wages) recently directed my attention to the westboro baptist church (who are protesting the comic-con down in San Diego later this week), which showed a picture of a protestor holding a sign that said, “god hates nerds” (it prompted me to respond that those folks will be holding signs that say, “god hates jesus” during the second coming).  but eugene made the point that WBC is way more known for what they’re against than they ever will be for what they’re for.  i guess it is a decision they made, and as misguided as it may seem to some of us, it is one that others have gravitated to, in the name of god.

so, are these zealous folks wrong? are they just blinded by their anger and fear of lifestyles different than their own that they’re easily manipulated by a power hungry bible teacher adept at interpreting the bible to match the fear and move it to action? or are they right? does god hate fags/nerds/america?  is god ready to judge us for all the sinful things we’ve done?  probably… though i’m curious as to why it hasn’t happened yet…is god like us watching reality television, wanting to wipe us off the face of humanity, but the train wreck of a show just keeps getting juicier and juicier, therefore too hard to turn off?

what do you rage against?

i believe we all rage against something.   we’ve been trained from the womb to find the holes in things, point them out, complain about them, and hold out our hand awaiting some sort of reward for showing others that they’re wrong or have wronged us in some way (i.e. the coffee shop uses regular vanilla instead of sugar-free vanilla – and we’re conditioned to expect a free coffee because they messed up our order…), and when we don’t get what we’re expecting, we huff around in some sort  of tizzy, swearing that we’ll never return, that we’ll tell everyone we know how insensitive and bad they are.  so – is being a critic, raging against something, or just being observant?  does that deserve being rewarded?

When we protest a lifestyle or something we believe is wrong, when someone vandalizes an abortion clinic, when someone drops a smart bomb on some muslim extremists in the middle east some place–they’re raging against something they believe is a lie. when we have mustered our guts up to a place where we can confront a friend about the poor choices they’re making in a relationship, or we tell our best friend we think they’re drinking too much, or we honk at the person who runs the stop sign when it’s not their turn to go – we are raging (some more than others) against something we feel deep in our spirit is wrong.   but then we take our hand off the horn, turn the corner, find our parking spots and walk away.  we feel “persecuted” because while protesting we got yelled at and spat upon because our viewpoint is deemed narrow by the rest of our culture.  we feel proud because our country will be protected from those extremists who were just turned into dust before they had a chance to say goodbye to their families. we feel we did our part because our friend now knows exactly how we feel about their relationship and that they know we don’t support it.  when we’ve done that, we’ve effectively raged against the lie, and can wash our hands of it because we’ve done all we can. right?

god’s people have raged throughout history.  moses raged against the treatment of jews by the egyptians.  saul raged against the popularity and anointing of david.  judas railed against the “non-messiah” that jesus was turning out to be. the apostle paul raged against the early church. me? i rage against people who don’t stop at stop signs and pretend they don’t see me.  i rage against what i perceive to be injustice. i rage against war in the name of affluence.  i rage against the horrible things that people do that reflect horrible things that i would likely do (or have done).  i rage because i’m not happy with how things are – things that i have no control over. but who would ever build a monument for a rager like me?  the guys mentioned earlier in the paragraph raged and because of god’s redemption, a few have monuments erected in their honor – not because of anything they raged against, but because of the truth they brought in the wake of their raging.

jesus said, “when a defiling evil spirit is expelled from someone, it drifts along through the desert looking for an oasis, some unsuspecting soul it can bedevil. when it doesn’t find anyone, it says, ‘i’ll go back to my old haunt.’ on return it finds the person spotlessly clean, but vacant. It then runs out and rounds up seven other spirits more evil than itself and they all move in, whooping it up. that person ends up far worse off than if he’d never gotten cleaned up in the first place” (matt 12.43-45 -the message).  when we simply rage against the lie, the best we can do is maybe convince someone else to clean themselves up (that is if they buy into the rage we’re spewing against their lie) or scare them into not doing the bad action any more.  but if we do not replace the lie w/the truth, jesus states that chances are they’ll end up in worse shape than when we showed up w/our heroic, “self-sacrificing” raging. 

my question is, finally, do we “post-post-modern,” “post-christian,” followers of jesus – do we have the courage to stick around to replace the lies with the truth?  can we? do we have the courage to be the incarnation? or are we just a picket sign… a tract… a bomb… a voter… a consumer…

yes- i’m a rager… god grant me the patience to rage the way jesus did.  always in love, always in peace, never with spite, fear, hate or anything other than listening to a story, and sharing one of his own.  most of the people he directed, already knew the right answers, he wasn’t trying to cram truth down their throats, he gracefully took the lies upon himself and replaced them with truth, knowing that his spirit would do the rest.

 i’m just hoping that i’ve got the patience and enough of a “bigger picture” perspective to help point people to the lies in their own lives, and show them how i’ve tried to replace the lies in my own life with truth–and that if the holy spirit can do it in me, it can be done in them as well…

i’ve rambled on & on here… thoughts?  any lies in here that need replacement? 

p.s. –  if i remember correctly, bono was 18 when he made the statement in the title of the post…