Dear brothers and sister in Christ:
As I look at the month of May I see God at work drawing us from our inward focus which is the result of over a year of pandemic. In a published report, sociologist Ralph Larkin, writes on the crises facing suburban youth. I feel this excerpt underscores several aspects of this new malaise of the spirit. Many children (and adults) of affluence are depicted as passively accepting a way of life they view as empty and meaningless, resulting in a syndrome that includes “a low threshold of boredom, a constricted expression of emotions, and an apparent absence of joy in anything that is not immediately consumable.”
This leads to a reduction in involvement while increasing indifference, nonengagement, and disengagement. In more plain terms, the result is no sharing or caring; meals eaten with headsets turned up loud; separate bedrooms, each with a personal telephone, TV, and private bath; and the it’s-none-of-your-business attitude. This has been multiplied by our isolation during the pandemic. Dr. Phillip Zimbardo in an old article “The Age of Indifference” in Psychology Today dated 1980 stated the problem well that we are experiencing 40 years later “I know of no more potent killer than isolation. . . . It has been shown to be a central agent in the etiology of depression, paranoia, schizophrenia, rape, suicide, mass murder. . . . The Devil’s strategy for our times is to trivialize human existence in a number of ways: by isolating from one another while creating the delusion that the reasons are time pressures, work demands, or anxieties …”
We are all struggling to come to terms with this. As we struggle, we must turn back to God as the center of our life and to the love which heals. We must follow the example of Jesus to answer this urgent need. Our Savior modeled the answer perfectly. He cared. He listened. He served. He reached out. He supported. He affirmed and encouraged. He touched as well as stayed in touch. He walked with people.
In May we celebrate 2 of the most pointed examples of people who show us by this example as we celebrate Mother’s Day. Mother’s gave birth to us, loved us through hard times, listened to our stories, supported us when no one else would, encouraged us, reached out to us when we did not get in touch. In short, they modeled the example of Jesus. The only reward was seeing you grow and find your way in life. Never forget and remember to thank them. We observe this day each year as a way to remind us to stop and show love for our mothers. This can help us with our struggles.
We will observe Memorial Day on May 31st, as we remember the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. Military. We observe this day every year as a way to recognize the greatest sacrifice that one can make and those who have made it. You might not personally know someone who died, but we all can personally understand sacrifice. If we are in the business of serving the greater good, being in service to better the lives of your neighbor, or caring for others, then we understand sacrifice.
It might not be your life that you have been called to lay down, but maybe it is an hour, a day, or a week of your time that you are being asked to give up. As those who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, we should have an awareness that sacrifice is a part of our Christian life. Ask mothers about sacrifice and they will tell you that even though you are the one giving something up, you also end up being the one gaining something in return. If there is love. 1 Corinthians 13:3 tells us, “If I gave everything to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”
What is it about love that makes the sacrifice worth it? It is love that makes the sacrifice lasting. Love is what brings us back from indifference, nonengagement, and disengagement. Love brings us to lay down our lives for others. It is love that is contagious and makes the sacrifice multiply. When you read the stories about the people who have given their lives, you begin to see more than just the sacrifice, you see the love they had for their country and family, it is hard to not be inspired. It is love that makes others want to turn around and then do something good for another. It is love that never has an empty return, but always comes back full. It is love we need to turn the world around. It is grace and forgiveness that roots out hatred, isolation, and sin in our world.
Look at the story of Jesus, look at the story of a mother, look at the story of someone who gave their life. Get to know them through their story. Let their lives inspire you. Come out of your isolation with a spirit of resurrection and new life. Then find creative ways to help others from their isolation. Help them to see the light of Jesus shining in you and in themselves as we remove the power of Satan to isolate us. Sow love and invest in the lives of others.