Union Ridge Church

February 1, 2023

by Reverend Dan on February 1, 2023

We live in an angry world. (I know, this is not “breaking news” . . . no exclusive scoop or expose of some recently uncovered facts.) Turn on the TV. Read any blog or Facebook post. Pick up a newspaper if you can find one. Everyone is angry at something or someone. Everything is taken to the extreme and we’re made to choose a side and hate those who don’t agree. “US” versus “THEM.” And the goal? Something altruistic like working together for the best possible outcome? Absolutely not. It’s to embarrass and eviscerate the other side. Build yourself up . . . by tearing the other side down. It’s “my” truth versus “your” truth and it rarely has anything to do with THE truth. Just an angry, angry world.

The problem is that so much of the anger today is simply an emotion based on an opinion. And Lord knows, everybody has one or two – or a million - of them. But is it an opinion based on all the facts? Not anymore. It’s all visceral. (That’s a good word – it means “relating to deep inward feelings rather than the intellect.”) Our opinions aren’t even our own anymore. They’re just a worldview we’ve been conditioned and programmed to select. CNN? Not news. Emotional opinions meant to garner ratings and get more market share so they can charge more for commercials. MSNBC? Same. Fox News? Same. (Thank God for the cartoon channel!) Cable, and even the major networks, rarely report the news like ole Uncle Walter did back in the day. The goal now is to make news. Ramp up everyone’s emotions based on an opinion that manipulates the facts and feeds the angry beast inside all of us. Twist the topic to fit your narrative, and boom, people believe they’re “informed” and spout off the sound bite they heard. I’m right, you’re wrong, and everyone’s angry.

I wonder what would happen if just for one day, we all took Paul’s advice? “Be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Don’t act like the world. Quit conforming to its anger. Stop participating in the vitriol. Instead, renew your mind by actually listening and considering another opinion and even more importantly, considering another human being who was made in the same image you were. (And for good measure, through a healthy helping of God – that’s the “transforming” part.) Shut down all the TV channels that don’t show cartoons (or The Andy Griffith Show.) Take all the lights and microphones and cameras out of Washington, D.C. (I can hear panic all the way from the capitol to the White House if someone up there reads this.) Heed the advice of my grandfather: “Y’all quit actin’ like fools. If you can’t say something nice about somebody, don’t say nuthin’ atoll.” Shut down Facebook for a day. (I probably just made a bunch of folks have a stroke – the thought of a whole day without Facebook – AARRGGHHHHH!) Just give everyone a day to calm down, not hear negativity all day long, and let us all look for the good in the world. Imagine what you might see. You could witness acts of love because you wouldn’t be looking at what’s wrong with everyone else. Who knows – you might even participate in helping someone different from you! You could experience grace because you could realize we’re all in this together, children of the same Creator, all headed to one of two places. (Let that one settle a moment – there’ll be folks in heaven you never expected to see there, or . . . Well, just sayin.) On that one day you could feel compassion because you could see past the bias and hate and actually put a face with the pain anger causes.

I dare you to take Paul’s challenge. Let go of the anger – quit conforming to the world – and let the Holy Spirit transform your mind to the love of God. If that happened, then the words of Satchmo (Louis Armstrong) could finally come true. “I say to myself, what a wonderful world.”