A while back, I wrote a post that unintentionally got lots of people hot and bothered.
It was an outlier post, different in content and tone from my usual writing. But – in the predictably unpredictable way of social media – it was shared online over a million times.
People were fired up.
Looking back, I can tell you that my “post gone viral” experience was not awesome – in the same way that a never-ending roller coaster ride at Space Mountain would also not be awesome.
I’ve found that there is no middle ground when it comes to roller coasters, or viral posts. You either love! love! love! them (like this lady), or you would rather be boiled in oil. I fall squarely in the latter camp, believing that careening at light speed, upside down, in total darkness, is a very special kind of misery.
And so it was for me. Just minutes after the post was published, it became obvious to all that I wasn’t properly strapped in, or remotely ready for this kind of ride. I wanted off. I wanted the lights back on, and I needed a bucket into which I could barf repeatedly.
“The LORD is your Shepherd, and I’ve got your back.” My pastor would often say to me in those days, holding out a bucket. And then it got even more totally not awesome.
Some non-fans felt compelled TO YELL THEIR OPINIONS OF ME AND MY FAMILY IN ALL CAPS (hasn’t it been well documented that this makes everyone think you’re a loon?) while thousands of others raced to their own blogs to write clever piggy-back posts: This Is What I Would Have Said, and This Is How I Would Have Said It (if I had thought of it) Aren’t You Just Outraged About This? Isn’t She A Fool and Aren’t I Cool?
Note to self: never write a blog post about someone else’s blog post. It’s lame.
My first instinct was to gird my loins and rally the troops for a fight. I was Joshua, and this was the time to be strong and courageous, to march bravely around Jericho.
Take the land.
Strap in, saints.
Jump into the fray.
Good verses evil…and all that jazz.
Except in my heart, I knew that the LORD wasn’t wanting me to fight.
Worse, really, it was dawning on me that God might want me to take it, absorb it, forgive it, and enter into the threatening discord with peace. I was being asked to turn my face towards my Father’s world, and not away from it.
“The LORD is your Shepherd, Kim.”
So, if the LORD didn’t want a fight, then who did?
In case you’ve missed it, all social media wants to see these days is a knock-down-drag-out fight to the death. It wants to see a drama, a tragedy, a horror. In fact, all our media thrives on controversy and conflict: it is alive only because we give it our own lives for fuel and fodder.
It’s not interested in shepherds.
Friends, social media can restore no one’s soul, only reflect the condition of it.
It leads us daily – not to still waters – but to restless discontent.
Are we invited to lie down in green pastures by Twitter?
Nope. We are tempted to pick a side, draw a line, plant a flag, hunker down, raise our voice, shake our fists, and then call the other team morons.
“The LORD is your shepherd, and we’ve got your back.”
Church: this is the language we need to take on as we quietly go out into our Father’s world, and redeem all corners of public life.
What would it look like if the world knew that the LORD was their Shepherd, too?
How will they ever know, if we don’t have their backs? How will we ever remember, if we’re cutting each other down to size?
Are our faces turned towards the world our Father loves, or away from it?
They will know we are Christians by our love, saints. Of course we must speak boldly and firmly into our world, but we must also shine on it warmly.
God’s Kingdom has come into this world, not to condemn it, but to save it.
He is the Good Shepherd of all his creation.
He has had our backs for all eternity.
Let’s go and do likewise.
The LORD is your Shepherd, and I’ve got your back.