I Am the Problem.

I’ve never protested anything before.

It’s not as though I’ve never had something to protest against; there are plenty of social, cultural, and political things that I find upsetting or wrong. And I’m not the kind of person who’s too shy to share her opinion on something. So there were definitely (and probably still are) things I could probably protest against. 

But I already know why I don’t ever protest anything. It’s two-fold.

1.) I don’t see how it improves things. There’s this funny British (Irish?) comedy where these priests are told to protest a film that is offensive to the Catholic church, but instead of steering their parishoners away from the film, they end up spreading the news about it instead, and it becomes the big hit of their little area of the world. 

Protests happen, and they may have something good or important to say, but their immediate effect on “the issues” are kind of hard to pin-point. Sure, it’s all well and good to raise awareness, but most protests seem to be saying: “Change this for me/us right now!” Call me cynical, but this doesn’t seem like the most proactive way of getting what you want… 

Which leads me to the next reason:

2.) Who is responsible for the problems in this world, anyway? It’s usually “them” whoever “they” are. I was recently rereading Don Miller’s Blue Like Jazz, and in it he asks himself this question in the light of his own desires for social justice:

Do I want social justice for the oppressed, or do I just want to be known as a socially active person? I spend 95 percent of my time thinking about myself anyway. I don’t have to watch the evening news to see that the world is bad, I only have to look at myself… I am only saying that true change, true life-giving, God-honoring change would have to start with the individual. I was the very problem I had been protesting. I wanted to make a sign that read “I AM THE PROBLEM!” (20)

I’m not saying that social justice is a bad thing to work towards, not at all. What I am saying, though, is similar to Miller’s thoughts: when it comes to the bad stuff in the world and in other people, we’d do better to start with ourselves, because the sin and brokenness that hurts the world and hurts other people, is the same sin and brokenness that hurts us and the people we come into contact with.

I am the problem.

The sad thing is, my protests against the sin in my life are usually kind of sad in comparison to my protests to the sins around me. It’s more along the lines of “Down with this sort of thing,” rather than “This has to change right now!” 

But we need to be diligent in our self-examination/self-protests. And of course, this is scriptural; as Jesus instructs us in Matthew 7:

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

And I think this is what the first week of the Choice Campaign is all about: to get at the problems in this world, we need to acknowledge our helplessness outside of God, and allow change to happen in our hearts, just so we can see what is happening around us more clearly. Our own sin and our own problems make the problems worse; we need to remove these things from our lives, and we can only do this by relying on God to heal and change us. 

We are the problem. But the good news is: Jesus is the solution. 

 

 

 

 

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