LIVING AS APPRENTICES
At a time when groups are publishing lists of words that should be banned from use, syndicated columnist Dana Milbank is supporting a new word: slacktivism. He defines it as a “uniquely American form of engagement in which statements are made without any sacrifice.” Here are some examples of slacktivism he cites:
The Slacktivist gets icy water over the head to fight Lou Gehrig’s disease or tweets out hashtags to fight kidnapping in Nigeria. The Slacktivist wears color coded bracelets for causes, “likes” causes on Facebook – and [as Milbank did] goes to see a Seth Rogen film to defy North Korea.
Milbank traces this engagement from afar back to September 2001, when President Bush launched wars without calling for sacrifice from Americans – other than to spend money. While our sons and brothers and fathers prepared to fight a hellish war, we were encouraged to “fly and enjoy America’s great destination spots. . . . Take your families and enjoy life, the way we want it to be enjoyed.”
This tendency to affiliate with causes without paying any personal dues or acting without cost has spread into the Church. Slacktivism was evidently present in the early church when John warned Christians of the dangers of being “lukewarm” or of forsaking “their first love.” Slacktivism is a major reason the church is fading in the West; we have committed to a belief system but kept the keys to our hearts. We have lost our passion and are unwilling to sacrifice and suffer the way our Master did.
We are called to be a “peculiar” (distinctive) people, yet we keep up with and even outdo the culture we are to stand against. I read recently that Christians are the target of severe persecution in 131 of the 193 countries in the world. That’s almost 70% (Winter 2015 issue of Words of Hope). I don’t remember ever suffering because I am a Christian. Do you? In fact, I believe I have suffered more in the church than for the church.
I wonder how you and I can fight off “slacktivism” as we try to live as apprentices of Jesus in our every day lives? How can we “engage” sacrificially – instead of from a stance of detachment? Can we actively seek negotiation and reconciliation in our families, communities, state, and nation rather holding out for our “right” position? Can we be more committed to following Christ without falling into the trap of performing or producing so God (and others) will love us more? Can we offer our talents and skills to God without expecting pay or praise?
Perhaps you and I can start by examining the next statement of support we want to make. Is there something more we can do than just speak or agree? Are we stuck on safe ground or are we willing to look for holy ground and burning bushes? Is God calling us to be ordinary or to be “peculiar.” Is Christ noting our lost love or seeing a rekindled flame? Perhaps its time to move from slacktivist to Christian activist?