Much to my father's disappointment, I never really was that handy of a guy. My dad is the exact opposite, kind of a cross between a master carpenter and MacGiver. If you are able to dream it, he is able to build it. I, on the other hand, have difficulty assembling Ikea furniture so as to be structurally sound. It's a bit embarrassing.
One thing I do know from any kind of handy work is that I make life substantially more difficult on myself when I try to use the wrong tool for the job. You know, when you find a flat head screw that needs to be removed and you think to yourself "My keys could do that!" Or when there's a nail that needs to be driven, and you try to hammer away with a wrench, because it's the closest thing. Most of these mistakes are born out of laziness, but they all have the same result on your project. You'll be there for hours, and probably in for a lot of cursing.
I've been thinking about that a lot as I've been reading social media in the wake of the events of the last few weeks. Orlando. Baton Rouge. Minnesota. Dallas. Nice. Turkey. Even the most optimistic person would have to agree that we have seen our fair share of darkness lately. Our world feels a good bit like it's ripping apart at the seems. It seems like we're all huddled around wondering what the next tragedy is going to be. We're scared. We're angry. We're devastated. We're human.
Being a pseudo-millenial, I spend way too much of my time on the internet when these tragedies occur, and the dialogue is just absolute crap. A bunch of folks have run towards politics, trying to blame this party or that party for the situation that we're in. A bunch of folks see how other's are responding, and assume that the only correct way to go about things is to take up the other side. People are wading into terribly complex situations with 140 character posts that aren't fit for the deep end of the pool in which we find ourselves swimming. I've gone back and forth countless times, considering leaving the internet all together and embracing a simpler time when we all lived in tents and let our beards get big.
But as I thought about it, the truth of the situation hit me. The reason social media is bothering me so much is that everyone is using the wrong tool for the job. First of all, social media itself might not be the right tool, but that's not even what I'm really talking about. Politics, for as much as they are a handy tool sometimes, are not the tool that is going to solve the darkness. Gotcha games and trite sayings are not the tool that is going to solve the darkness. Whining, complaining, and finger pointing are not going to solve the darkness. Debate, rhetoric, and speeches are not going to solve the darkness. Protests and rallies are not going to solve the darkness. Guns are not, and likely will never solve the darkness. Neither will gun control. Are you with me yet? We're using the wrong tools for the job.
The only way to dispel the darkness is with light.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” -John 8:12
What has come into being in him was life,[a] and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. -John 1:3-5
And then, not to put too fine a point on it, Jesus reminds us of our place:
14 “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15 No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. -Matthew 5:14-16
Yes, the world is dark. But you were never called to make a Facebook post about it. You were never called to a political position. You were never called to a particular form of an argument. You were never called to smack down someone else's argument. You were called to shine a light. You were called to remind the world that no amount of darkness will outshine the light of Christ. We were called to proclaim to the world the great love that drowns out all the fear and anger and hate the world has to offer. We were called to so much more than we're living up to.
So my question these last few days has been whether or not I'm shining light in the darkness. I admit, I'm nowhere near perfect at this. I could do much better. But at least with that question as a starting point, I know where I'm going. I know where the compass is telling me I ought to go. And I'm even better when I remember that I don't produce any light of my own, that actually all I can do is reflect the light of Christ.
So, are you shining a light in the darkness?