We live in an ice age in terms of how people get along across the world. Relations between nations have chilled. Polarization has increased between persons of diverse political persuasion. Protest movements are increasing in variety and number. Civility has all but disappeared from legislative bodies in states and nations. And perhaps the most puzzling is that regard for religion has begun to wane throughout populations on this little blue planet.
There’s a lot of pain out there.
The kinds of social problems we see today are symptoms of a deep, personal pain that envelopes the generations who have come of age in this era. I’m middle aged, and have seen a definite increase in restlessness, substance abuse, hopelessness, and reactionary displays of in-your-face emotion. No surprise to see a middle finger flashed at one of the largest prime-time TV audiences during the past Super Bowl. This era is one of spiritual emptiness.
There isn’t an easy way to address such wide-spread social unrest. But it is indicative of that human hunger for God that Augustine was talking about when he described it in this prayer: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
One of my favorite authors is Richard Foster. In his classic book “Celebration of Discipline” he begins by describing a need for more deep people. Spiritual depth is not easy. It requires time spent in prayer, scriptural and other spiritual reading, Christian conversation and practicing acts of mercy and acts of justice. It is shaped in worship.
The widespread dis-taste for organized religion betrays an ignorance of the spiritual tradition of the faith. We have failed to practice and teach these things. Our world is hungry for the passionate and compassionate side of Christianity. That they often paint the church as judgmental and hypocritical is symptomatic of our failure to practice the deep spirituality of Christ.
It is my contention that when Christians practice what our faith teaches, the world will grow warmer, and people will experience renewed joy, peace and blessing. Where we have been effective in our discipleship they have.
O God, bring your warmth and healing to our world. Help us grow in the deep things of God. Amen.