We all know that there are terrible problems in our society
today. Politics is dominated by partisanship and lust for power rather than a need to do what is right. Crime is rampant. Violence is growing. The prison population in America seems almost unmanageable. Education is failing. Unemployment is rising. The number of people living in poverty is growing. There is very little sense of societal morality. Families are disintegrating. Children are disrespectful. Parents are selfish. And attendance of church is plummeting.
It seems to be human nature (or at least American nature) to
sit with our small group of friends and rant about the fact that society is headed to hell. Then we also enjoy letting the blame for this state of affairs fly at whoever seems worthy of our vitriol.
We criticize young people for being arrogant, lazy, immoral,
and absorbed by technology. We criticize poor people for being lazy, selfish, and dependent. We criticize politicians for being wishy-washy, power hungry, and disconnected. And on and on . . .
While there are times when these accusations are deserved,
for the most part, we need to shift our distribution of blame.
When we see a child who is rude, a pregnant teen, or a
juvenile being arrested, our question should not be “What is wrong with that kid?” Our question should be “What is wrong with that kid’s parents?”
When we see students who are not learning, our question
should not be “What is wrong with that student?” Our question should be “What is wrong with the teachers (and maybe the whole system)?”
We cannot ask what is wrong with generations of young people who are leaving the church. We have to ask what is wrong with the church.
It seems to me that we don’t like to do this blame shifting
because the blame often gets shifted to us. Shifting the blame requires me to take responsibility for the world around rather than just accuse others of negligence and bad behavior.
I have to take responsibility for my child’s bad behavior. I
have to take responsibility for the problems in my neighborhood. I have to take responsibility for moral decline. I have to take responsibility for marginalized and abused people. I have to take responsibility for poverty. I have to take responsibility for an increasingly irrelevant church.