Surviving Air Pollution

I live in a third world country, literally on the other side of the planet from the country in which I was born. But in this ever-shrinking, ever globalized world in which we live, even such extreme distance can’t keep the stink of political rhetoric that spews out my country from reaching my nostrils. During my country’s hotly debated midterm elections a few weeks back, the cloud, black and thick and reeking as much as the coal smoke bellowing from my neighbor’s chimney, wafted on the sharp winds of the internet and social media with tangible force.

Each side leveled their biggest guns, took aim, and blasted away at the other. Facts? Optional, it turns out. Thoughtful, reasoned public discourse? What’s that? And take it from a guy who spends the winter breathing coal smoke, when you spend enough time sucking in such polluted air, you start to feel the effect it begins to have on your insides, not to mention the stink you can’t help but get on you.

You get to the point where you just long for cleaner air, you know?

Yet, as if the bellowing smoke were laced with nicotine, you almost can’t help but take another draw.

“Can you believe what that politician said?”

“I can’t believe the guys on that side of the aisle would support that!”

“Did those words really just come out of that politician’s mouth?”

“Your political party stands for things no decent human being could support!”

And on and on.

Then, I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook just a little bit ago when I came across a different kind of post, and it wafted over me like a much-needed breath of fresh air. And for a moment the black smoke parted and I saw.

“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will like him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock” (Jesus, Matthew 7:24).

And there it was. It doesn’t matter what so-and-so said about such-and-such. It doesn’t matter about this or that political party’s stance on this or that issue. Jesus calls me to hear and carry out his commands regardless of whatever anyone else says or does.

“But so-and-so’s crazy political party just came out and said this!”

And Jesus says, “You hear my words, and you obey them.”

“Yeah, but did you see what what’s-his-face just tweeted? I mean, is he for real?”

And Jesus says, “What about you, Eric? You hear my words, and you obey them.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know, but X person just posted Y comment about Z politician. She’s absolutely nuts!”

And Jesus says, “Last time I checked, I was the one who removed kings and set up kings. That still applies to presidents, senators, and representatives, you know? Oh, and it also applies to all those who comment about those presidents, senators, and representatives. But are you doing what I’ve commanded you to do?”

There are those moments when I get it. And there are those moments in which obedience seems so much more fulfilling than ranting and raving over who posted what on Facebook. I’ve just got bigger fish to fry, you know?

And for all the times I’m drawn back in like a mosquito to a glowing blue bug zapper, I look to Matthew 7:24, I set my sights on personal obedience, and I’m set free.

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