Scrolling through your social media newsfeeds these days can be a stressful experience.
Creeping up between pictures of your dinner plate and cute kids and latest hilarious ecard are vast oceans of information about whether to vaccinate your child, how many sex slaves were trafficked in 2012, the horrors of adoption ethics, the newest information about the Affordable Care Act and why Genetically Modified Organisms are slowly killing our bodies and our planet.
All just a click away.
We are a people incredibly informed about all the problems, whether environmental, spiritual, cultural or political. And all this information begs of us to make a decision, to take a stand, choose a side and then, of course, promptly re-post or share our opinions on our own social media accounts.
For a non-scientific article skimmer like me, both sides of issues often seem to make sense. I am often found having so much information in my head, so many resources available to me, but no closer to making a decision about how I feel about an issue, whether it be animal rights or Millennials leaving the Church.
One would think that after being so well educated via the Internet about all the problems, my life would look a lot different—probably more jet-setting to India and dirt under my fingernails from the organic farming and less money in the bank account from that well I built in Uganda and ethical slave-free Halloween candy in my kids’ jack-o-lantern buckets.
But if I am going to be completely honest, what I find myself doing while meandering through my newsfeed on Facebook is scrolling past these articles as quickly as I can in a desperate act of avoidance.
In the worst case scenario: I ignore. I scroll past. Out of sight out of mind. Ignorance may not be acceptable in this day and age but it’s still bliss in my opinion.
In the best case scenario: I share on Facebook slacktivist style and get all fired up for a total of five minutes, but the impact it has on my day-to-day life is probably minimal.
Being overly informed about all the problems may help me make a decision about whether the FDA should label GMOs or money should go toward rescuing sex slaves verses rehabilitating them; but it doesn’t change my heart.
All I am left with is some anxiety, a guilty conscience, tired eyes and the weight of the entire world upon my shoulders.
The future of the honeybees and cancer and young girls and poor people and landfills and the American Way and small businesses and church culture are now strapped to my back in an impossible burden.
The Gen Xer in me wants to let someone else figure it out.
The Millenial in me believes I can change the world.
The sinner in me gravitates toward having a sense of pride because of my stance on these mega issues. The sinner in me wants to point my finger at the other side for being wrong. The sinner in me doesn’t actually care for either the honeybees or the poor.
The sinner in me would rather sit at my iPad all day becoming more and more and more informed so that I can pick a side and defend a side and advocate a side, rather than living life loving God and loving my neighbor.
So the question is, as a Christian, what does the Holy Spirit in me do and how can He help me navigate these complex issues in my day to day life?
Firstly, the Holy Spirit brings freedom. When I weigh the different sides of a debate, I can simply make the best decision based on the information I have and then let it be good enough. I can realize, at a certain point, that simply acquiring more information will not solve anything.
Secondly, the Holy Spirit brings compassion. Just because I have seen more pictures and read more blogs about starving children than anyone else doesn’t mean a thing for me or for those children, unless my heart is changed. I can keep reading until my eyes fall out and even if I become more science-y or articulate or vocal on the Internet I have nothing and have done nothing if I lack love.
God has not asked me to solve the world’s problems. God has invited me joyfully and without legalism to be active in His Kingdom work, whether that be by caring for His Creation, providing for orphans and widows or by building up His Church.
So, sometimes educating myself and rising above the pull to remain ignorant is where God is leading me. I can share what I know with others. I can send my money. I can write my congressman.
On the other hand, sometimes being willing to take my grip off of all the problems and hand them back to God, and unplugging for some time of solitude to just eat my fruits and veggies as they have come to me is the best way to love Him.
If you find yourself scrolling past activist posts on Facebook and perhaps just exhausted with over-information, here are a couple of steps you may want to take:
1. Pray and fast. Science-y articles and the Huffington Post aren’t going to draw you to God’s heart. Be still. Be on your knees. Be quiet. Be at peace. Be willing to listen.
2. Lament. Weep for the way humans beat up the Creation given to us. Be devastated with God over the wars and the crises and the diseases and all the problems. Allow your heart to break a little.
3. Surrender. Acknowledge that no matter how you feel about a certain issue, or how many friends you can share with on Twitter, or how much you just don’t care—this world belongs to King Jesus. Release the need to control what we consume, who we fight and who wins to Him.
4. Engage. Engage wisely and in a way that will make the most difference for you and for others. There are so many causes out there and within those causes two or more sides at odds with each other. I can’t do it all. What has God called me to? Where can I make the most difference?
5. Love. Don’t be a jerk on Facebook or the comment section of a blog. Remember there are real people on every side of an issue.
Some people may be wrong, but there is grace to be found in God.
And whether I turn out to be wrong and ill-informed and apathetic—or right and fabulous and world-changing, the grace of God remains the same.