“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9
In Genesis chapter 11 we are told that the whole world had one language and a common speech. People could understand one another. I think, when I read these first words of Genesis 11, that not only did people have one language but when scripture tells they also had a common speech, I think it meant that any slang or how they defined words was also all the same. There was no confusion because everyone understood each other’s words and the intended meaning behind those words. Since there were no misunderstandings, there could be no confusion. Everyone knew exactly what you meant when you spoke. What a blessing that was…but people took it for granted and began to plan how they could build a tower up to heaven and when God saw what they were planning, God scrambled the languages and common speech and then no one understood what anyone was saying which led to a great deal of confusion and so they all went their separate ways.
Confusion in all its many forms leads to chaos, dissention, and anger. It is the opposite of order. And because I like definitions, according to dictionary.com, confusion means disorder, upheaval, tumult, chaos. It is a lack of clearness or distinctness, perplexity or bewilderment. It is 2020 in a nutshell!!!
I mean seriously who could have predicted all the events of this year? A year that began with massive wild fires in Australia, the covid-19 pandemic which has disrupted the entire world, the racial unrest in our country, devastating floods in Indonesia, Locusts swarming in East Africa, the massive Sahara dust storm that impacted the Gulf Coast of the United States, even an earthquake in North Carolina along with many other natural and manmade events. I can’t help but wonder if maybe the movie the attack of the killer tomatoes might actually happen? Maybe I shouldn’t have written that down…
We are now eight months into this year and I am wondering if we aren’t all reeling from a case of confusion as we wonder about what’s next? I mean seriously…what will September bring? At the same time it is important to recognize that there are many things in life we can’t control. We can’t control the natural disasters that happen but we can help to minimize their destructive nature by not impacting our environments as deeply as we do. We can lessen the manmade disasters by ensuring we follow best practices when ever we do anything or build anything and not take shortcuts because they are expedient. Expedient is a very good friend of confusion because when we make choices that are convenient and not choices that are right and good for what we are doing…well bad things happen. Why? Because expedient choices tend to get us into trouble.
During these confusing and tumultuous times, I believe it is important to remember a couple of things:
First and foremost, God is in control. God has got this and we will all be ok in one form or another. Life will just look a little different. What we each considered normal will be a different normal from what we once knew.
Second: Be kind to one another. We all don’t agree about how to minimize our exposure to Covid-19. The experts don’t even agree. But here’s the thing, don’t make fun of people who choose to wear a mask if you think they don’t help. And If you think masks are dumb, please for the sake of being kind, wear one around those who use them and believe they help. Paul taught that we are not to be stumbling blocks to other people and that includes limiting our rights and choices if it means helping others feel more comfortable and secure. It doesn’t mean you are giving up your rights, it just means you are being considerate of the feelings of others. Which is a very kind thing to do.
Third: Live. We have been secluded for several months and are all going a little stir crazy. Which is not healthy. We need to find ways we can safely live life under the threat of the Covid-19 virus and its very real threat to our health and our lives. I know several individuals who have either contracted the disease itself or have died from it. Please hear me when I say it is a real threat. But it is also a threat to our being able to live life. We need to find ways to do activities that enhance how we live our lives and do them in a way that doesn’t spread this awful and malignant disease. We should not just go out and about with little regard to either our or other’s health or possibly their lives but we can go out with precautions as we engage in activities that are part of what we include in our definition of a vibrant life style. It is finding a way to learn how to live with the impact of Covid-19 on our communities and our world and stay safe.
I think this is why I chose the above verse Paul wrote to the church in Philippi encouraging them to follow his example by doing “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable…” That is what we need to do. Paul chose to limit his activities if they caused someone else to stumble. Paul chose to treat all people with respect and dignity and honor who they were and what they believed as he lived out his life. A life that reflected God into the communities he both lived and taught. It isn’t easy but it is entirely worth it as we too learn to live by these principles and shine God’s light into the communities where we live. And so I challenge you…just as I am challenging myself…to do whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable….