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My Vote For Millennial Blog Post of the Year

I read a lot of blogs by Millennials. By that, I mean thousands. I am addicted to Racer blogs. Over the last ten years, more than 4,000 young people have left family, homes and jobs to go and serve the poor around the world for a year. And they tell their stories on blogs. That act of leaving is…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

I read a lot of blogs by Millennials. By that, I mean thousands. I am addicted to Racer blogs. Over the last ten years, more than 4,000 young people have left family, homes and jobs to go and serve the poor around the world for a year. And they tell their stories on blogs.

That act of leaving is a brave one. It is a hopeful one. Who knows what disappointment and danger lies ahead? Sometimes their journeys end prematurely. Inevitably, unspoken expectations get dashed. And the stories along the way are often gripping.

I love watching parochial world views change. I love the slow dawning of context, the crushing of self-absorption, the emptying of ego. The embracing of grace as a way of life thrills me every time.

Over the course of years, I often to see a fantastic transformation of character. That has been Andrew Chambers’ journey. And this post of his gets my vote for “Blog Post of the Year.” He offers us a better way. Happy Easter.

I AM WRONG WITH THE WORLD

I stopped to see some friends. An older gentlemen named Billy and I started talking. He asked what I was learning in the leadership academy that I attend.

I told him about the hope that I had recently acquired that we could actually bring kingdom to this earth. That we could actually make this world a better place. That all this was going somewhere. It has a purpose.

Billy understandably didn’t understand my enthusiasm. He told me about all the pain he has seen in his life, including his time in the service of the British military.

He reminded me that ISIS is out of control in the Middle East. That Donald Trump is making a mockery of American politics. Of the terrorist attack on the parliament building in London. Of the horrors of the Cold War USSR. Of genocide in Cambodia. Of poverty. Of hunger.

He told me how his brother and sister in law had had such a hard life that they literally decided against having kids because they refused to bring children into a world like this. And then he finished with the question, “what is wrong with this world?”

To be honest, I didn’t have an answer then. Many people are asking that these days.

When will the violence stop? Why is ISIS terrorizing the Middle East? Why can’t there be racial reconciliation in America? Why are kids starving in north Africa? Why are gangs out of control in cities like Chicago, San Pedro Sula, Memphis, and Tegucigalpa? Why are families falling apart? Why does fatherlessness abound? Where is God, and what is wrong with the world?

Liberals will tell you that Donald Trump is wrong with the world. Republicans will say that it’s the crime rate. Middle class whites will say that it’s the immigrants. Immigrants will say that it’s the middle class whites. Americans will say that it’s ISIS. ISIS blames the West.

Social justice workers will say that education needs to be fixed. Civil Rights activists call for affirmative action. Christians blame Muslims and homosexuals. Millennials blame the older generation and the older generation blames millennials.  

There’s a pattern here, and it has to deal with who’s to blame. The answer we normally go to? Everybody except for ourselves. 

I’d like to propose a new way.

It’s said that during World War II, The Times sent out letters to famous writers and public intellects asking them the question, “what is wrong with the world?” They received this reply from GK Chesterton, one of the greatest thinkers of the 19th Century: 

Dear Sir,

What is wrong with the world? I AM.

Yours,

GK Chesterton” 

He’s joined by the likes of Michael Jackson (Man in the Mirror was an international hit) and 2Pac (“take the evil out the people and they’ll be actin’ right…”)

And I think they are on to something. 

Everyone knows that something is wrong with the world, but how many of us have actually taken the time to take a good hard look at our own selves? It’s easy to blame this group or that person, but how often do I recognize my own anger? My own unforgiveness? My own greed? My own stubbornness? My own fears? My own refusal to fight injustice? My own judgement of other human beings? 

Because if we look at most of the problems in the world, they are caused by human beings. People formed from the dust in the image of the living God. Breathed into by God. People like you and I.

And if we look deep enough at the problems, we’ll find that you and I aren’t as innocent as we thought. Because the hurt and pain of the world didn’t start with one country bombing another or a gang war in Chicago.

It started close to home. Actually, it started in a home. Wife to husband and brother to brother. And then, just as now, we never looked at ourselves to see what was wrong. We shifted the blame and the responsibility. 

But there’s good news. 2,000 years ago, a Middle Eastern virgin gave birth to God with skin on. And He saw what was wrong was us. He decided to offer us a clean start. He loved us so much that He came and put skin on to show us how to do it.  

Many people come to Jesus for forgiveness, but He came for so much more than that. He came to heal our soul. To lead us to repentance.

He came to heal us of our anger. To heal us of the pride that causes us to put ourselves over and above another. Of the judgement in our hearts. Of our shame. Of our lusts. Of our greed. He came to heal it all. And to do it for free.

But in order for the doctor to work, the patient has to own that there is a problem. And that’s on us.

When will this world become a better place? When I’m transformed from the inside out. When my soul is healed. When I let Jesus change me. When I decide to fight FOR my community instead of against it. When I decide to have a conversation with someone of a different viewpoint instead of judging them. When I decide to help the crack addict down the street instead of watching him waste away. 

I don’t know about you, but that’s really GOOD NEWS to me. Because not only can I be healed, but as I am, so will the world be.  

Dear Billy,

What’s wrong with the world? I AM. But we’re working on it. 

Love, 

Andrew

Comments (12)

  • Seth,
    We gaze into mirrored expressions of our own brokenness and through sharp edged cracks healing light coalesces. The reality is redemption always begins by acknowledging my deep need for a savior. And quiet disdain for another is invariably worse than open ridicule as cancer festers and becomes more pernicious in the end. This blog is a clarion call for self-righteousness, *code word* religious faith, “caste system driven friendships” and elegant self absorbed pontificating–I’ve been guilty–to give way to fresh graces only found in the humble admission–“I am the problem.” Count how many times you have offered or heard the phrase…”I was wrong. Will you forgive me? With God’s help I hope never to do that again.” I keep this phrase written in a black leather journal. Like a muscle it grows better and bigger with exercise. Thank you for sharing this Seth. Pax Christi this Easter.

  • That’s good, Butch. Yes, let’s keep spurring one another on in our embrace of humility. For me it’s a daily battle.

  • Thank you for sharing this! So much wisdom so young. I need to ponder how this applies to me.

  • Katie. You aren’t alone. I just prayed peace like a river would flow your way. Pax Christi this Easter.

  • I confess I’m reading this sitting on my parents’ deck escaping the three generations arguing about what’s wrong with the world as it relates to immigration, health care, the president, United airlines, the Middle East, military, witchcraft… I can’t figure out if the tears welling in my eyes are from the conversation or this post.

  • Thanks, Butch. For most families, mine gets along well. Definitely more laughter than screaming. But it’s hard to see them still held captive by things I’ve found freedom from, generalizing about people groups I know by name, and making choices that lead to destruction. Change starts with me–living out what I know is true, loving them through the hard, and doing what I can to make a difference in the lives of those not everyone will stand beside.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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