You did it again. Well, I suppose we did. Even though we’re taking a break from Twitter to try and recover some sense of physical over digital identity, it took only one text message to send us back to lurk and gawk, to watch the latest drama unfold, to rant and rave and sneer at the idiocy of it all.
See, we’re good at this. You and I have been on this journey of spiritual discovery for awhile now. We have poured over the books, we have sat with priests, we have known theological greats, and parsed the languages. When spiritual debate circles round, when theological politics caravan through our small corner of the Internet, we perk up, we ready the watchtowers, because surely all this education and meditation and acts of religion lend themselves to our use: we shall be the ones who call down the blasphemer, the foolish, the oppressor.
Oh, we are very good at this. We talk ourselves over and over until we can no longer see the person behind the statement, until we convince ourselves that we’re critiquing the wording, not the person, and so that snide comment–and we are good at snide comments–isn’t a gunshot to the heart of someone else’s Faith, it’s a leveling rod of divine justice against the systemic evil of this world.
Yes, we have gotten very good at convincing ourselves. Others, too. In the echo chamber of our corner of the world, where we consider ourselves outcast for having the theologically free opinion, the hermeneutic of superiority we parade around under a crooked-crude banner called Hope. We sit in our circles fasting on the ashes of our faithfulness all the while pretending we feast on the bread and wine of mercy.
How quickly you forget.
Was it not a handful of years ago that you parroted the very lines you now ridicule? Was it not so very long ago that you were putting up walls to orthodoxy where God would have made gates?
Yet you return to this habit, for habits die hard when you’ve got a sentimental heart, and now you call yourself a liberator of the oppressed by using your words to build the same kinds of walls and parrot the same kind of half-twist rhetoric, but this time around different people and from different talking heads.
I know, I know, this is about justice. Yes, I’ve heard you use that line before. I know it’s about caring about good theological understanding, yes, you’re fond of that line too.
But you are calling yourself an Anglican these days, if I remember, and in the Communion rite you say in response to the call, Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Up to the lord, heart. That is where you are to go. So I wonder about you when you rant and rave, when you use your words to wound others of Faith for the alleged sake of a faceless mass of people you have never met. I wonder if you think this truly is the best way, if this is truly how a heart is lifted up to the Lord?
Because Jesus made the first Communion even with Judas. I wonder sometimes if you forget that you may very well be the Judas at that altar rail. That perhaps Piper and Driscoll and Keller and Martin and Bessey and Evans and Turner and the myriad of others who are counted among His, are the ones who know more about the things to know than you do, that you have something else to learn, and that should you disagree with them, the way to do so is as Jesus would and as Jesus did: with mercy, with grace, with conviction.
Oh yes, dear heart, I’m tone policing you. I’m reminding you that St. James tells us the tongue is a fire that can so easily set the world ablaze.
I am reminding you that your pride does not make you right, your conviction does not make you above reproach.
Get low, proud heart. Bow your head and kneel at the feet of Christ. Surrender all of you–particularly your speech–and beg to know gracious phrasing, to love people alongside their Creator toward the Truth that you yourself know only in fractured, fragment part.
Are you not tired of being angry?
Are you not weary of your unrest?
Be still, proud heart, and know that He is God. Know that you are not.
When you would speak snark or sarcasm and pretend it justified, stop. Be still. Remember the three gates:
Is it necessary?
Is it true?
Is it kind?
If it is the sum of all three, speak. But do not fool yourself any longer, do not pretend that passion is the same as God’s blessing.
Quiet now. Still. You are not so very far from God, but you are not so very near.