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Tuesday, 6 January 2015

The Bandaid Society

I was going to write this blog this morning, but given the discussions I have had today I feel like this post will be even better for the time I have had to ponder and think. The somewhat enigmatic headline should inform you a little about what I have in mind to write about, yet hopefully it's not just ridiculously obvious.

I read a couple of articles in the past week about different issues but both of them interesting me for the same reason. I won't discuss the articles in detail but I will provide links to them here: Leelah Alcorn and Kate DeAraugo. The reason these two articles so interested me, apart from one of them being a clear tragedy, was because they highlight to me what is so wrong with our modern society. I don't expect you to agree with my conclusion necessarily but at least continue reading onwards. What is so wrong with our modern society is that it is a 'bandaid society'.

What does a bandaid do? It's an instant bandage, it covers a wound and hopefully the wound naturally clots up and heals over time - but it doesn't heal the wound for you. So when I say that our modern society is a 'bandaid society' I mean that there is a tendency towards 'quick fix' solutions to heal much deeper problems. Each of those articles features a quick fix solution in some way to a more serious issue and I would argue that these issues are heart issues.

What I am really pointing out here is that we are a cosmetic society, we care more about surface appearances. Or we also mistakenly believe that we are treating the disease of our times by addressing, say, drug use or suicide rates, rather than addressing the genuine causes of such problems. And the cause of such problems essentially returns to a broken heart. A heart which has not experienced the genuine love and acceptance that it was made to receive.

I try and make it very clear to everyone that I am not here to judge people. I say that I try because I probably will inevitably judge someone at some point here or there. But that's not who I am. I don't care about people's pasts, I don't care about the terrible things people are capable of, I don't even really care about what people are stuck in right now. I just care for people and maybe it's idyllic to say so but it's who I am.

And the main reason I don't care is because of the following, as said by Paul in 1 Timothy 1:12-17
12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
So you see, I don't care not because I simply don't care like many people in the world but also because I know that I, according to my own measuring stick, am the worst of sinners. As Romans 3:23-24 points out, "23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus," Who am I to judge anyone else when I am as worthy of being judged as anyone?

So when I was thinking early this morning about this concept of a bandaid society it struck me that I do only care about one thing in people's histories: have they met Christ? And are they on a path that means that they can meet Christ if they haven't? Because Christ is enough for everything - the sacrifice which he made is no mere surface covering, it's whole and complete. It renews your heart ultimately.

This is the great news for a bandaid society: that there is a great and true fix to their problems. The only catch? That it's impossible to please God by anything other than faith. It's not about religion, some particular creed or magic words. It's nothing you can do or buy - it's purely about having the faith to recognise the lordship and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

I was thinking beyond this however and questioning what role I can have in being a solution to a bandaid society. How do I point people who are not resolving the deeper issues to a God who can meet any need. Well one answer can perhaps be seen in how 1 Peter 4:8 says "Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins." Tie this into the golden rule found in Matthew 7:12 - “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." - and I believe I have a challenging encouragement for myself and others.

You can't prevent people wanting to take the easiest path to solve their problems. I often still do it myself, stubborn as I am. But you can provide a powerful remedy that will truly resolve their inner, deeper issues. And to see this happen, to see the change you want to see in others lives, you need to take the first step. If you wish people to be loving, then be loving first. Loving earnestly so that they can see the evidence in your own life of a faith in Christ which means that they do not have to walk around covered in makeshift, temporary, bandaids...