Who Are We Blaming? Why?

I’ve got a burdened heart these days. It’s a heart burdened by watching a culprit get away with the greatest crime humanity’s ever seen; and he’s getting away with it because we’re letting him. He has convinced the world that he doesn’t exist.

As I’m scrolling through Facebook news feeds, Twitter feeds, all of the feeds, I’m seeing a lot of people pointing fingers at each other.

Statuses attacking people doing the #icebucketchallenge. Statuses attacking the statuses attacking people doing the #icebucketchallenge.

Whites blaming blacks, blacks blaming whites, civilians blaming police, police blaming civilians for the tragic situation in Ferguson, MO.

Blog posts about why Israel is really the “bad guy,” followed by responses about why the writer of the first blog post is “what’s wrong with the world today.” Or vice versa.

Heated arguments in the comment sections that attack others over opinions on the Ebola crisis.

Same with the horrifying actions ISIS is responsible for.

People are calling out friends as ignorant individuals who simply don’t do their research before arguing. Family is divided along the lines of what’s right and what’s wrong to believe about tragedies happening in various parts of the world.

The church is divided. I’ve seen just as many posts and arguments about the Mark Driscoll/Acts 29 Ministry scandal as I have about anything else. In some instances, those are even more heated. Even more blame is placed on individuals and even more hateful words are thrown back and forth. Words that are actively (or passively, as we like to do things in the South) meant to tear another person or ministry down… and this is the church we’re talking about. People gathering in the name of Jesus, the ultimate example of love.

Campus ministries that are designed to work hand-in-hand to beautifully, efficiently, and graciously reach the unreached are engaging in some weird competition with one another. And members of one are outspoken towards the members of the other about it.

Do you see it, yet?

Granted, I might be speaking from the depths of a firsthand encounter. I recently returned from a place that’s experienced plenty of fighting, tension, and death that are all direct results of division. Division, at least on the surface level, that’s based on which Ugandan tribe you come from. I witnessed an attack while I was there. After the initial raid, neighbors began attacking neighbors simply because they placed blame on anyone associated with “the other.” Some didn’t know who to blame, so they began harboring bitterness and attacking anyone and everyone they saw at random. And while this kind of attack may seem very different or far removed from the kinds of verbal attacks I’ve seen on Facebook and Twitter lately, the underlying cause is the same.

My dad has repeated a simple truth to me since the time I could talk. It goes as follows.

Satan is the author of division.

He’s a mastermind at creatively stirring up dissension, while making it too easy to point fingers at other people. He’s good at it, and nobody even knows he’s doing it. He does not get the credit, nor does he want it. His plans to steal and destroy are completely reliant on our inability to see him for who he is: the ultimate assailant, the merciless murderer, the liar, the deceiver. The guilty one.

Hear me loud and clear on this: everything that’s going on in this world deserves to be talked about. The facts need to be known. But what if we’re too busy pointing fingers and attacking each other to notice that the real culprit is getting away? When attention is taken off of him, he’s free to keep moving. By turning on each other, we fall right into his trap.

The Usual Suspects
– The Usual Suspects

As a body of believers, we’re called to stand firm in our knowledge of what’s really going on here. Ephesians 6 says to take on the Lord’s might by putting on the whole armor of God. Verse 12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

We’re fighting something much darker and much more powerful than people with different opinions. Something that runs deeper than skin color, a church scandal, or tribe affiliation.

So, I think it’s time we lay off the blame game. Unless it’s the version where we expose the one true author of the blame game. Until we trade division for unity in the promise of the gospel, Satan keeps winning. Until we take some of the focus away from how different we are and how people of this world keep failing us (hint: they’re always going to), and put it towards worshipping and glorifying our Creator, our one source of redemption who will never fail us… the cycle of separation will continue.

At the end of the day, we’re all sinners in need of grace. Myself included. But I have this hope that if we drop the daggers aimed at neighbors and reorient ourselves around the promise of a war already won through Christ, Satan won’t be able to win battles as easily. He’ll know we’ve caught onto him.

Not a day goes by that I don’t pray earnestly for my God to intervene on behalf of His people and put an end to the innumerable tragedies worldwide. I pray that he will reveal the true enemy in every situation so that we’ll be free to come together again as children of the King. That picture may sound hippy-ish and even downright impossible, but it’s one that will come to complete fruition one day. Verse 12 explicitly says “a present darkness,” not a permanent one. It’s tied to the place we live in now; in no way is it tied to our eternal home. There’s hope in that promise.

I encourage you to pray for that day to come, and to train your eyes to see deeply and with wisdom in the meantime. Issues will always need to be discussed and voices will always need to be heard as long as we’re on this side of heaven.

But I’m tired of watching the bad guy get zero credit for the fallen world we live in. Aren’t you?

Land of the free, home of the unparalleled customs lines.

Patience can be tested in unique ways as you’re standing for over an hour to reenter your home country. I’ve gone through the process more than once, but last week was different in that my thoughts were truly elsewhere. Typically, my tendency to complain combined with overwhelming jet lag results in a stare-down with the closest customs officer sitting behind the glass window. “Water boils faster than you’re stamping those passports, sir.”

This time, though, I was too busy replaying the previous two months in my head. I’m big on detail, and I was already afraid I’d forget something about the single most life-changing summer I’ve had the privilege of experiencing. As I was weaving through 300 feet of customs lines, I became acutely aware that I was straddling two continents in my heart. And I realized that I probably would be for quite some time.

My time spent in Bundibugyo, Uganda was a gift from God in every sense. He showed me, taught me, and led me through infinitely more than this human mind could ever fully grasp. He designed radiant relationships that blossomed in spite of cultural barriers and violent rivalries. He drew me close to him while painting an all-inclusive picture of why he brought me to an often-forgotten place in the mountains of Uganda. In short, it was a beautifully overwhelming seven weeks abounding with God’s grace.

The transition back into life here has proven to be an awkward process at times, but I’ve enjoyed reconnecting with family and friends to see the transformational work that happened while I was gone. The hugs and conversations are reminders of a cliche that now brings a new level of comfort in times of stress and confusion: the God of Uganda really is the God of Nashville, the God of Memphis, the God of this whole world. He always has been. So while I feel like I just returned from an extended stay on a different planet, the sovereignty and faithfulness of my Father remains unchanging and timeless across all continents. It perfectly bridges the gap between the world I left behind and the one I’m slowly reentering now, and it’s a truth I’d do well to remember always.

To my stateside family: thank you for praying, encouraging, and supporting me through this entire process. I could feel every bit of it from the other side of the world, and I continue to feel it even now that I’m home. The body of Christ can be such a beautiful and humbling thing.

To my Ugandan family: thank you for loving and accepting me so well, and for showing me what it looks like to serve the Kingdom alongside a team of hilariously crazy, imperfect, gospel-living people. I miss you already.

These people will always have a special place in my heart. Crisis makes the heart grow fonder, am I right?
These people will always have a special place in my heart. Crisis makes the heart grow fonder, right?