Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 97; 147:12-20, Isaiah 60:1-22, 2 Timothy 2:14-26, Mark 10:17-31
“Have nothing to do with stupid and senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.” – 2 Timothy 2:23
In our age of instant global communication, Paul’s advice to Timothy is more valuable than ever. The boundaries between social media, entertainment, marketing, and journalism have eroded to almost nothing. Constantly connected to this content stream, we feel personally involved in local, national, and even international controversies created solely for the purpose of getting us to watch, click, and share.
With endless information coming at us from infinite directions, and with that information digitally curated to tell us what we’d like to hear, it is easy to be fooled into thinking we are feasting on a banquet of ideas when we are really being force fed slop. The opinions we form, based on this non-information, are little more than products we didn’t consent to buying. When it comes to trending stories and controversial “news,” it’s almost always a safe bet to assume we know less than we think we do.
It’s perfectly acceptable – even desirable – not to have an opinion on everything, particularly things that don’t involve us. Whether in person on online, we should resist the urge to quarrel about with equally uninformed friends and family. We are also free to not respond in kind (or at all!) when provoked. Humble uncertainty injects peace into situations where others are more invested in finding offense than common ground.
We have only so much physical, emotional, and spiritual energy to expend. A juicy scandal may offer to entertain us, but in the end will leave us diminished.
The world has always schemed to distract us from our own best interests, but we don’t have to let it succeed. There are real controversies and injustices – the kind Jesus spoke about and addressed and which still exist today – that merit our attention. Poverty. Hunger. Violence. Distancing ourselves from celebrity gossip, fake news, partisan spin, and topics that are simply none of our business also frees up our resources for these worthier pursuits.
Controversy is an unavoidable part of an authentic life. Let’s engage wisely.
Comfort: Feel free to not have an opinion.
Challenge: When someone says something you disagree with, pause before reacting and decide whether you need to react at all.
Prayer: God of peace, teach me to be a peacemaker. Amen.
Discussion: What’s the last stupid quarrel you were in?
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