Noisy Cymbals & Dead Men’s Bones
Countries aren’t eternal, but people are. Or is it empires? I don’t remember. I’m pretty sure someone famous said that, but I couldn’t find who.
My mom and I were driving down the road the other day, and we saw a huge Ukrainian flag flying right next to a huge American flag. Remember that horrible attack in Paris some years back? Everybody, including me, put a French flag in their profile picture on Facebook. Many of us made similar gestures of unity and solidarity after 9/11. And of course, who can forget the recent international trauma the pandemic caused? Of course, what started as international solidarity with regard to fighting the pandemic quickly turned into vicious cliques of maskers and anti-maskers, vaxxers and anti-vaxxers…but I’ll leave my comments on that one, if I care to share any, for another time.
I think maybe there is a danger in these big macro, national and international events. I’m stating the obvious, I know…but I’m not talking about that kind of danger that is so obvious. I’m talking about a more micro level danger. An individual danger. A personal danger. The danger of wrapping up our whole identity in what we are for or against based on the news of the day.
Don’t misunderstand me, these are all very important issues. There is a right and a wrong, and no matter what the issue is, I’m guessing we all want to be on the “right” side. But is it possible we sometimes get so lost in the chant of the crowd and the solidarity signaling that it’s easy to think more highly of ourselves than we ought?
If I speak in beautiful tongues, but don’t have love, I’m just an obnoxiously noisy cymbal. If I put a Ukrainian flag on my Facebook page, but am not loving my family, I’m just a noisy cymbal. If I say “mask up, we’re all in this together,” but secretly want the “unclean” to die…I’m just a noisy cymbal. If I say “such and such” is good, but don’t do it myself, I’m just a white washed tomb…filled with dead men’s bones.
Am I outsourcing my virtue? Proximity to good works is not the same thing as good works. It’s good to affirm the good, but it’s better to do the good.
We will all stand before God one day and give an account for the things we have done. There will be no hiding.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” -Matthew 7:21–23
This war will eventually end, as all wars do. And what will be left in its wake are individuals, people with names, forever marked by an unthinkable tragedy.
Countries aren’t eternal, but you are.