Thursday, March 6, 2014

Emotional Masters

No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. (Luke 16:13)

I'm not going to talk about God and mammon. I'm just going to use this verse as a jumping off point.

We are emotional creatures and these emotions can rule our lives. I'm probably stating the obvious.

Supposing in place of "God and wealth," we substituted "Love and hate." Or more accurately, since the English language is limited in this regard, "Agape and hate."

We have become a culture that serves hate, loves hate, cultivates hate. As just one example, a Facebook friend shared a link today that was all about how some celebrities don't age very well.

And I bet the site gets plenty of hits. We, as a culture, love the snarky, the mean, the denigrating. We support magazines and other media that do little more than publish photos of stars looking "bad" in swimwear, who are dressed in frumpy clothes (because maybe they want to be comfortable when they're not working?), or who have gained weight.

If it stopped with the rich and famous, I suppose that would be one thing, except it doesn't. We seem to take our cues from these magazines and websites as acceptable behavior for how we treat one another. A cutting remark gets us laughs---our reward. We look to the media again for more examples of how to get these laughs at the expense of others. I see it in families, I see it towards homeless downtown, I see it among pretty much all age groups.

Then it gains speed and volume as it turns into bullying and violence.

I'm not going to talk about world rulers and war. I'm taking about us, on the street, in our daily lives, our families and friends. We do this hurtful, angry, mean, hateful thing---and we expect a reward of laughter, popularity.

I would like to think we can do better. I think there is room for effort in this regard.

What I think I want to say is: this behavior becomes a kind of slavery to meanness, to hate. I feel the shackles now and then. I want to let loose on a few public figures, and sometimes I do.

And it's wrong. It denies the Image of God in these people---and it's easy to forget that they are people, that they are Images of God, however filtered by the latest fashion.

I cannot serve Agape while denigrating anyone.

So, can we find a way to live together---even argue together, because there are serious things to hash out in the world---without resorting to a cutting remark? Can I find this way?

We cannot serve Agape and hate. We will eventually value one and not the other.

So my mind today is on this: How do I move through this culture of meannes as a servant of Agape?

Let us turn away from the urge to be mean, let us turn to love one another.

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