If you would have told me, when I was a kid that one day, not only would I have a computer in my home, but I would have one in my pocket — I would have likely asked “why?” I would have been wondering what kind of future would require so much computation. Because how could I have ever possibly imagined the role that the internet would end up playing in everyday life? And it is both, a blessing and a curse, to be sure – it affords us many privileges, and demands of us much responsibility . . . at least that’s the way I think we should appreciate it.
Social media has reconnected me with various groups of people from many different eras of my life, in some cases rekindling old friendships. It also allows me to enjoy pictures of my children and grandchildren, in real-time – a wonderful treasure regularly popping up unexpectedly, making my day brighter. But social media most certainly has a far darker side. There are those who clearly lack discretion in what they post, expressing wince-worthy political or religious opinions – opinions so gracelessly conveyed, with such vitriolic fervor . . . that you can’t even imagine someone being so recklessly unfiltered – knowing their words will now exist in internet perpetuity.
I suppose for some people these days, this is what passes for speaking your mind. But if you’re able to hang in there long enough to observe these mud-slinging food fight extravaganzas, you pick up on the fact that most people aren’t so much speaking their own mind, as they’re just parroting the talking points of their tribe. And while listening to the cognitive dissonance of their remarks, it will likely occur to you that they haven’t actually been internalizing, in a thoughtful way, the opinions they’re spouting, as much as it is an outburst of emotional reaction.
But their remarks end up being haunted with the hollow disembodied echo of someone else’s anger, because they have lost their own voice in the torrent of their emotional meltdown. When our convictions aren’t any more substantive than bumper sticker platitudes and memes – they’re just a poor substitute for real convictions. Because true convictions arise out of a far more deliberative meditative process, where our beliefs emerge from the crucible of our struggle to reconcile the tension between what is, with what ought to be. And it is this very internalizing that produces true conviction.
So is it any wonder that scripture invites us, so many times, to meditate on the Lord, on his word, on his law? For it is his voice that we are learning to hear, until his voice enters into us like the bread and the cup, altering us from the inside out – until our own voice speaks with the simple clarity of God’s love and grace. And even though it is God unmistakably at work within us, we have learned to speak with our own voice – because every word has taken root within our soul, becoming a garden of God’s redemptive love making all things new.
. . . and as we hear ourselves speak —
even we’re surprised at finding God’s words in our mouth.