Our latest question comes from Yvette. She wrote: “Pastor Craig, I have decided to disengage for a while from some social networks due to all of the bullying, hate and controversy. I also have been encouraged by some to not give up, to let my voice be heard. My question to you is– if there is a God, why does God not intervene? Why there is such a struggle between what is right, and what is wrong? Let me just state, I do not believe in the Garden of Eden story per se; it is a story of temptation and following rules– that is the moral. I want to know why good people are allowed to create hate and fear in others for control. I feel like mankind is basically set up to fail– what kind of God does that?”
Yvette, as you know, I believe very strongly that God is not directly responsible for much of what happens in our world. Because of the gift of free will, human beings are the ones who are responsible for the choices they make. These human choices – not God – are responsible for the bulk of the pain and suffering with which we live.
Some would follow that observation up by asking that if God is truly not responsible for causing the pain/brokenness – why doesn’t God at least step in and minimize the pain. My preferred way of responding to that question is to return to the analogy of parent/child: if the parent (in this case, God) always steps in and rights the wrongs, the child (in this case, us) would never learn. Sadly, many of us fail to learn from the mistakes. We human beings either keep repeating the mistakes, or try to get around our work by blaming God for what we did. I spend a good deal of my time in ministry trying to help people understand this dynamic so they can start assuming more responsibility for the kind of world we humans create.
I do want to say one thing about your decision to disengage from social media for a while. I wholeheartedly support that decision. Let me tell you why I say that.
There is an old saying that goes something like this: “If you feed the beast, it will grow.” I’ve learned over the years just how true that is. If I spend time paying lots of attention to folks who speak from angry, hateful, and hurtful places – guess what happens to me? I become increasingly angry, hateful, and hurtful. If I make conscious choices to minimize contact with those voices, guess what happens? I become more open, more loving, and am more of a loving presence in the world.
For years and years and years, I spent so much energy lashing out at others who I felt were causing all of the problems. I don’t do very much of that any more. Instead, I put as much energy as possible in paying attention to my own thoughts and behaviors. I try to feed a sense of hope, peace, joy and love in the world – NOT the beast!
It sounds as if social networks were manifestations of the beast for you. I sounded as if the time you spent there was feeding your sense of anger, frustration, and despair. That’s why those things have grown in you. That’s why I’m so thrilled you’ve stepped back and decided to quit feeding the beast. CONGRATULATIONS!!! Now, try to spend more time devoted to POSITIVE things that can help you reconnect to your sense of hope, peace, joy, and love: even toward those with whom you disagree!
So how about you? What do you think about these matters?