Consider Your Call
Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God.
1 Corinthians 1:10 (NRSV)
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Theodore Roosevelt, April 23, 1910, from the speech “Citizenship in a Republic”
The terms “meme” and “go viral” describe how memorable bits of information both rise to the top of the digital noise surrounding us at all times and also how they can spread rapidly and unpredictably. The ways we communicate were bound to change with the shortening of time between messages, but viral memes have proven interesting because of just what sort of things go viral. Incongruent images, uncommon and nonsensical uses of language, awkward interactions or accidents and more lead to laughter and then, sure, we share with our friends and on it goes.
As someone whose name and face are easily Google-able and with hours and hours of me talking easily available to anyone with an internet connection, this is terrifying (though I am also grateful to have a fairly common name to make myself somewhat anonymous). Who knows when I’ll trip over my tongue or publish something with a profane typo which someone screenshots and then pings around to places unknown and unknowable? Have I said things which could be taken out of context? And hey, it’s getting to where it doesn’t matter whether we choose to share ourselves or not. Doorbell cameras could catch you tripping and falling, red light cameras can capture you picking your nose, and all it takes is one person to make a .gif and start the cycle.
The rapidity of communication has also shrunk the window of time it takes for people to render an opinion on something or someone. I’m thinking about this in terms of Paul’s reminder that it’s not necessarily those who always say the right things with the right diction who change the world. Sometimes it’s the people with the courage to dare to know this world will issue a rapid and sometimes harsh verdict and still share themselves or try to make a difference. You are not lacking in any gifts, Paul wrote; we can share the same mind and same purpose; and now, consider your calling, friends. Consider what God has called you to do and to be, and how you will choose to live that out or, perhaps, hide from it.
This week, take some time in reflection. If it leads you to view yourself and your neighbors with more compassion, patience, and grace, it will have been time well spent. Keep the faith!
Grace and Peace,