First – yes, I’m still alive.
Second – yes, I’m still blogging. Why? At this point, I’m convinced that online writing might still be the best modern medium for social commentary. Live stream commentary (e.g. Twitter) is gratifyingly instant but lacks actual depth and eloquence. Printed media is substantial but lacks the ability to capture teachable moments. And video content is getting there, but…I totally have a face for blogging.
Third – I think I need to write. Rumination is one of the hallmark characteristics of OCD, which I’ve battled the vast majority of my life. Writing offers me a way to unload social analysis that is stockpiling in my brain like dirty laundry in a bachelor’s hamper. It’s cathartic.
Last – I’ve relocated. I’m now in the heart of Milwaukee at St. Marcus Lutheran. The past two months have been a life-rearranging, massively humbling occasion as I’m learning the ins and outs of a new (to me), large urban ministry. Fortunately, God’s people in Rochester were very gracious in saying goodbye and God’s people in MKE have been very gracious in receiving me and Adrian into their family.
The momentum of the story has apparently shifted.
Whole Foods has now filed a countersuit against Jordan Brown, an Austin, TX man who claims a local store wrote a homophobic slur in icing on a custom cake he’d ordered. (BTW, I honestly have no idea why bakeries continue to be the frontline battlegrounds of America’s sexual identity debate, but I intend to get to the bottom of it.)
Adding another religious wrinkle to the controversy, Brown also happens to be an openly gay pastor at Austin’s Church of Open Doors.
Whole Foods today released security video footage of Brown purchasing the cake, the UPC label located on the top of the box, and not on the side of the box, contradicting the video Brown had personally posted of the box. This would seem to indicate some tampering.
Whatever the outcome, my initial takeaway from this is yet another reaffirmation that everything we’re doing nowadays is recorded. Fewer and fewer people are getting away with anything because everything is monitored online, listened to over the phone, tracked through our credit card records, caught on surveillance footage, or literally being livestreamed.
As a Christian, I would think this is a positive, for multiple reasons:
- Christians already admit they’re not perfect. We’re certainly not proud of our mistakes, but still publicly own them by way of confession & absolution. Consequently, reminders of mistakes shouldn’t crush us.
- Christians are not shy about accountability. With a clear understanding of the fallenness of the human condition, we recognize the behavioral curbing benefit of heightened awareness.
- Christians realize God sees everything anyways. Even more than someone else seeing our warts, what’s most embarrassing is the fact that a holy God knows our imperfection. He’s the only one with a right to judge us and the capacity for lasting judgment. And we can’t hide anything from him.
So, if we Christians find our righteousness not in our moral performance, but in the perfection won in Jesus, transparency would logically be less of an issue for us than for the rest of the world.
Even beyond our personal opinion of this transparency, however, with the rise of surveillance, a socially relative world is gaining a collective paranoia for a Big Brother watching. Or maybe, rather, proper perception of a Heavenly Father.
We inherently have a sense that we will eventually be held accountable for everything we do in life. Built into the human psyche is a semblance of justice, and an anticipation for a final judgment. Deep down we know that “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Heb. 4:13)
The Christian doctrine of a Judgment Day, thus, is incredibly practical. Why? Because it means that in the end no one is ever going to get away with anything. Either, someone recognizes the error of their ways and repents (i.e. turns away from their transgressions and embraces the payment of sin offered by Christ Jesus) OR that person, in the end, will have to answer to God for their wickedness. Both of those are incredibly humbling, but one is voluntary and the other is forced. One is temporary and healthy. The other is permanent and deathly.
This is a tremendous resource for a Christian here on earth. I don’t have to get the last word in every argument. I don’t have to make sure my ex pays for his/her indiscretions. I don’t have to make sure the company that cheated me out of some hard-earned money gets their just deserts. I don’t have to make sure the individual responsible for taking the life of my loved one gets their comeuppance.
I’m not saying that justice here on earth isn’t nice, nor that it shouldn’t be pursued. But everyone who has ever been in a verbal conflict knows the pain and embarassment of letting your words go too far. In pursuit of putting someone in their place, we spout off something unconscionable and unjustifiable. In an attempt to right the wrong, we ourselves wronged. Humans struggle to enforce justice without becoming unjust themselves. It’s hard to stop evil without becoming evil. This is the reason why the Apostle Paul says, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.” (Rom. 12:17-19)
So, everything is getting recorded. Every single person who ever lives will either have to confess their sins, humble themselves, and fall before Jesus as their Savior in this lifetime OR they will be humbled as they fall before Jesus as their Judge on the Last Day. Judgment Day means no one gets away with anything. And it also means you and I are free from the responsibility of playing divine judge, jury, and executioner – roles we aren’t built for.