Union Ridge Church

March 29, 2023

by Reverend Dan on March 29, 2023
Marcus Aurelius was the emperor of Rome from 161 to 180 AD. All-in-all, a pretty good guy. He was the 5th out of five emperors known as “The Five Good Emperors.” (It only took 13 centuries for someone to come up with that out-of-the box moniker.) During the reign of those five gentlemen (called the “Pax Romana” era – the peace of Rome), there was relative peace and stability throughout the entire Roman empire.

The reason I mention my old friend Marcus is that almost 2,000 years ago, he had the answer to one of the issues that still plague mankind today. He said, “It is possible to not have an opinion.” In other words, you don’t have to comment about everything you read or hear. The problem is, we still don’t listen.

I recently read that over 1,000 different thoughts enter our minds every day. That’s a lot of information to process. But for some reason (the sense of entitlement the world has, social media, ego, etc.) many people feel the need to express an opinion on every thought they have. But since we don’t have enough time to really think about all 1,000 thoughts, our response is to compare it to what is known as our “illusion of truth.” That means we take the information and compare it to what we already believe, whether that belief is true, or we just want it to be true. Then, whether that information affects us or not, whether we have all the facts or not, and based solely on our existing worldview, we respond. But therein lies the issue: Why do we need to respond to everything? The topic may have absolutely nothing to do with us, but we’re going to let the world know how we feel! And every time we let the vitriol spew, the world gets a little harsher and colder because we’ve chosen to hate over love. And it’s usually about something that doesn’t even matter to us; something we’d never have thought about if it hadn’t come across our radar. We let it consume our mind and pretty soon this mindset affects the way we process every thought and topic. Take for instance the following extremely important topic. I saw someone on Facebook mention they had gone to their favorite restaurant recently, excited about having their favorite dish. When they got there, it was later than usual on a Saturday night and the restaurant had sold out of that dish. Disappointing? Absolutely. Worthy of the responses it generated? You tell me. They mentioned on FB that they learned they better get there earlier next time, then put a ”laughing face” emoji. The next reply was from someone who had experienced the same thing the week before, but they were a little more miffed about it and said they may never go back. The next comment blamed the supply chain issue. Next was the comment that blamed the “current administration” for delayed product delivery and rising prices, to which someone else replied, no it was the “previous administration’s fault.” It went from a small town restaurant running out of one dish to national politics in 5 replies. Call me naïve, but I’m not sure a shortage of arugula and strawberries is a sign of the Apocalypse. Nor can I find anywhere in Revelation where that signals the beginning of Armageddon.

Instead of our negative viewpoint, why couldn’t people just celebrate that someone whose dream had been to open their own little restaurant was doing so well that they had sold out of one dish and would have to restock as soon as possible? But it seems they can’t. The world is hellbent on telling everyone how circumstances have wronged them and changed the trajectory of their existence. Over . . . lettuce.

In the most pastoral and theological language I can use, my question to you is this? Seriously?! You’re going to let minuscule minutia upset your day that badly? In a world full of hunger, homelessness, war, genocide, child labor, and sex trafficking, your topic of choice is . . . lettuce?

Focus, folks. If you have a dog in the fight, absolutely let your voice be heard. But if you don’t, save yourself some time and stress. Let it go. The reality is, if you’re not directly involved, no one’s going to take what you have to say seriously anyway and the only thing it’s going to change is your blood pressure.

This topic is all over scripture. Proverbs 26:17 “Interfering in someone else’s argument is as foolish as yanking a dog’s ears.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11 “Make it a goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business.” 2 Thessalonians 3:11 “We hear that some of you are living in idleness. You are not busy working – you are busy interfering in other people’s business.”
Old Marcus was right. “It is possible to not have an opinion.” In today’s world , however, it looks like it’s not very likely.​​​​​​​