By Gena Anderson
Last week we all watched yet another public display of people behaving badly. More deaths, more destruction of property, this time at our nation’s Capitol. As the events unfolded, people reacted. Many are once again shocked and upset, and it’s understandable. Over the last year I’ve heard people ask if we’re going to hell in a handbasket more than once, and I get the sentiment.
I’ve been reading through the Old Testament over the last year. Yes, an entire year and I still haven’t finished it. It’s long, y’all. As I read about the people in biblical history fighting with each other, murdering, worshipping idols, and doing all sorts of horrid things it unfortunately sounded familiar. Our nation’s history isn’t much different. Wars, slavery, dirty politicians, sexual exploitation, mixed with moments of great leaders and inspired movements leading to positive change. We, as people, ebb and flow between our sinful nature and being obedient followers repeatedly.
We may be yet again surprised by the awful acts of humanity, but God is not. In our surprise and disgust we sometimes do and say things that are less than helpful, and maybe more divisive than anything else. Some are like an angry otter protecting their life, and the response they generate is as polarizing as yours would be if you met that growling creature pictured on the log above. As I read and watch the Bible and the news, I asked myself and God what I should do with all this, and he asked me:
Are you disturbed or stirred?
Interesting question, isn’t it? Kind of a slap in the face. Many of the events of 2020 I struggled to process and haven’t felt capable of articulating a wise conclusion on. The fog in my mind started clearing as I began to understand this question.
Disturbed says “I can’t believe this,” stirred says “God saw this coming.”
Disturbed says “I would never do that,” stirred asks “what can I do now?”
Disturbed says “I can’t associate with them,” stirred says “how can I reach them?”
Disturbed says “they are ignorant,” stirred exposes ignorance within.
Disturbed calls out, stirred seeks to understand.
Disturbed lashes out, stirred pours out.
Disturbed is appalled, stirred is compelled.
Disturbed is destructive, stirred is constructive.
Disturbed is self-righteous, stirred is made righteous through submission and conviction.
Disturbed calls for reformation, stirred invites transformation.
To be more specific: disturbed is rioters causing death and destruction of the very lives and property they claim to protest in protection of, and stirred is Representative Andy Kim staying behind in his suit and tie to clean up the mess he didn’t create.
Disturbed is Peter’s passionate attack on the Roman soldiers coming to take Jesus, stirred is Jesus washing Judas’s feet just before he was betrayed and sent to his death by the very same friend.
Disturbed is using passion as an excuse for poor behavior, stirred is using passion to change behavior, starting with our own.
I don’t write this in condemnation of any one person, group, or behavior. I’m no one’s judge and God wouldn’t have asked me the question if my attitude didn’t need adjustment. These words I’m sharing are as much to hold me accountable as they are to inspire you. If you’re like me and wondering what to do with this flowing river of hits, maybe it’s time to start stirring instead of being disturbed. To God be the glory, even if things look bad right now, we aren’t going to hell in a handbasket. Why? Because the same Jesus who washed his betrayer’s feet, the one we crucified and murdered, took all of our sins to that cross with him. He stirred things up. Turned the tables, literally. And in doing so, he invited anyone and everyone, enemies and friends, tax collectors and prostitutes, defenders and betrayers, to be with him in heaven.
What about you? Are you disturbed or are you stirred?