Today at lunch I watched an old lady shuffling through a grocery store parking lot take the time to stop and read a bumper sticker on the back of a pickup truck. I couldn’t read it from where I was, but I saw her turn and look thoroughly disgusted. I laughed and shook my head.
“It must be exhausting for you to be outraged with the world all the time,” I scolded her in my head.
Immediately I had the proverbial four fingers pointing back at me (which doesn’t make any sense by the way, but whatever). She was judging bumper sticker guy (who probably deserved it) and I was judging her and now you’re probably judging me (who definitely deserves it) and on and on… When we live this way, every day is like fun-house mirrors of “judgieness,” filled with people we see ourselves as better than.
We can stop already. Here’s why:
Somewhere in the middle of the desert a few thousand years ago, the wandering tribe of Israel was tired of being free from slavery, tired of God’s provision of free food every morning, tired of all the protections meant to help them flourish. They grew bitter about life. God sent a plague of fiery, poisonous snakes. They started dying. God tells Moses to raise a bronze serpent on a pole in the middle of their camp. When a person was bitten, they simply had to look at up at the icon to be healed.
Sounds crazy right? God had Moses present the people with a picture of their sin (the serpent) judged (bronze forged in fire). All that was required was the faith to look up and believe that what God said was true. Just like Israel in the wilderness, we’re all snake bitten. We are all dying, spiritually, physically because we love darkness rather than light.
Jesus compared himself to the snake in the old testament story, right before he told Nicodemus this:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” John 3:16-17
Boom. Mind blown. Faith in God’s provision through Jesus is the only way to life, nothing else.
Now, if we have looked to our savior and been saved from our own deaths, what do we do? Walk through the camp and turn up our noses at the purple, bulbous, poison filled limbs of the dying? Shake our heads at bumper stickers or laugh at old ladies? Or, remember our own scars and point people to the cross?
After all, it is exhausting to be outraged all the time.