Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Of Mice and Men

I don't know what made me think of it, but for some reason out of the blue I decided to watch the ending to Of Mice and Men. I would have read the the ending of it, but unfortunately I do not have a copy of the book. It was as sad as I remembered it being in high school.

Of Mice and Men has one of the saddest, worst, best endings of any book I have ever read. I would even consider saying of any book ever. It is a hard book in general that forces you to think through its controversial ending. It will not settle for being ignored.

In my senior English class we had to read the book, discussing each part of it during the weeks it was assigned. When we got to the end, there were several camps on if George did the right thing (I am not going into specifics here so as not to spoil it for future readers), and what he could have done differently. I still remember my position, though I continue to wonder if it was the right one or not.

What makes the issue in that book so unclear is the fact that it deals with the reality of man and the situation. Lennie has done a great wrong, people are rightly angry, and he is too simple to know what is going on. In that day and age there were no resources for people like him, so should he be doomed to a life of terror and fear or freed? The author gives no clear-cut answers, nor does he expound over whether George's choice is right or wrong. All we know is George loves his friend Lennie, and wants the best for him. Beyond that we are offered no answers in the book. 

This post is not about whether George was right or not, but about how we as Christians need to take life and deal with it as it is, and not as we wish it were.

Far too often I hear fellow brothers and sisters in Christ speak about the world in terms that either whitewashes or sidelines uncomfortable truths. Some things I hear are:

"Christianity is not in decline, revival is just around the corner!"
"The kids are fine. Everyone has smartphones these days."
"We'll make it to church next time. Scouts/sports/school/etc. is so busy this time of year!"
"What racism?"
"What police brutality?"
"What attacks on police?"
"What war atrocities?"
"What illegal immigrant problem?"
"We both have to work if we're ever going to get ahead."
"If only politician/political part XYZ would win, things would be better."
"This generation is so narcissistic and weak."
"We can't associate with that church, they [fill in the blank]."
"LGBT issues are settled."
"Why are you worried about LGBT stuff? It's never going to affect you."

And on and on the list goes...

Now if I have done what was intended, you found at least one of those to be offensive or something you would rather not think about. I know I found at least a couple of them to be, but that is the point. If we never stop to really consider what is going on around us and what the issues are, we are not grappling with the world as it is in reality, but only as we wish it were. This will never get us anywhere, because unless we deal with reality we will never make any progress in dealing with the world around us.

We as Christians do not get the luxury of ignoring what is going on around us. If we do that we will have no answer besides the standard cut-and-paste rhetoric of a Facebook post. For us to reach the world we have to be ready and willing to face it head-on as it is. That is how Jesus interacted with the world after all.

Consider the things Jesus dealt with without resorting to platitudes and standard, rehearsed lines: prostitution, adultery, disease, politics, poverty, hunger, inheritance, God, marriage, children, purpose, racism, Heaven, Hell, Jerusalem's destruction, death. I could go on for a while here but I think you get the point. Instead of pretending like they did not exist or moving them off to the side, Jesus looked at it straight-on, considered it in the context of God's Will and Plan, and dealt with it accordingly. There was no rhetoric when it came to how Jesus spoke. Each situation was dealt with as it was - an individual situation. There was no one-size-fits-all solution for every issue. He did the hard work of not only dealing with the issue, He also went to those who were involved in it. He empathized with them, then lead them to the truth of God in love.

As followers of Christ, we are called to do the same.

Today's post is a call to put away the rhetoric, put away the self-reinforcing news feeds, put away the talking heads and pundits, and come before God Almighty for the real answers to the real issues in life. Today is a call to reject the wisdom of this world and all those who are not giving their lives over to God in favor of His Word and the wisdom of those who strive with all their hearts to follow Christ wherever He leads. Forget the politicians, the celebrities, the bloggers, the memes, the YouTube videos and the Facebook friends who tell you what the world wants you to hear instead of what God wants you to know.

Come to God. Pray for His Spirit to lead you in His Word. Look for His Will and His Truth to come from what He has provided for us. There is only One who we can look to in order to be refreshed by the water of life and nourished by truth.

Let us face the hard issues straight-on with honesty, empathy, and open eyes. Let us face them as Jesus faced them. Let us face them in the truth and love of God.