TODAY’S SIGNATURE VERSE ••• And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. (Colossians 3:10)
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Periodically, a new social media challenge pops up, and there’s a new one going around called the “Meet Your Teacher Prank.” Basically, parents record their kids’ reactions to “meeting” their new teacher via FaceTime or Zoom. However, the pictures aren’t the pictures of their teachers. From what I can tell from the video I saw — they are likely mug shots and pictures of people with some disfigurement or otherwise abnormal look about them. Frankly, some of them looked like they may be addicts. The people whose images are being used are clearly not having the best of days. It infuriated me that parents were sharing their children’s reactions, who bless their hearts — most seemed to be trying to be polite — but were clearly uncomfortable. But these are adults doing and posting these “pranks” and calling them “funny.”
Really? This is what we’re going to teach our kids? First, let’s make them uncomfortable, and then, once they realize this is a “joke,” let’s teach them to laugh about the way someone looks or those who have made less than desirable life choices.
Maybe I’m being too sensitive. I remember as a child, my dad had a friend at church who always made me very uncomfortable. Nothing ever happened, but my mom had to intervene and tell my dad to stop trying to make me be around this man. My instinct as a child was to be wary of him. Whether that instinct was accurate or not, I think there’s something to be said for the intuition God gives us.
But beyond my own personal sensitivities to making children uncomfortable, we live in this cancel-culture that celebrates “wokeness.” We’re so worried about removing offensive statutes and apologizing for things none of us were responsible for. Everyone has to be super-sensitive to what they say so we don’t tread on toes or offend anyone or hurt anyone’s feelings. So after all the politically correct preaching I’ve seen for months on social media, and in the news, this kind of “joke” seems hypocritical to me.
Today, let’s go to 2 Kings 2:23-24. It says, “He went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, ‘Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!’ And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys.”
Okay, so that’s not really our verse of the day. It’s a real verse, yes, and the “he” is the prophet, Elisha. But it serves as a warning…. You don’t want to go making fun of the wrong person!
In all seriousness, let’s start by tucking some important verses in the back of our minds:
- Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
- James 3:9 says, “With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.” (The “it” is our tongue — a topic we touched on recently.)
- Ephesians 5:4 says, “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.”
I’m going to be honest; I wish my knee jerk reaction had been to comment on the post, “I don’t think this is funny.” I suppose, to some degree, writing this today is a passive-aggressive way of dealing with it. But I’m not just mad about the post. I’m mad at myself for not speaking up.
The truth is we ARE wary of those who are different. We do marginalize people based on their looks, choices, and circumstances. We are more comfortable being around people who are “like” us. Who “get” us. Our people.
But that’s not what Christ called us to do. After we accepted Christ as our Savior, we were to put on Christ-likeness and love others. Colossians 3:10 says of this, “And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” We ourselves have to shed our old ways and put on Christ-like ones! None of us are perfect, and we all have made poor choices.
Let’s go back to our earlier list of verses; we are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). We shouldn’t praise God and then dismiss others who are also created in His image (James 3:9). And finally, we are specifically told not to participate in crude jokes, including jokes that belittle others (Ephesians 5:4).
Now, rabbit trail alert. I think a joke at the expense of another is fine when the butt of the joke is aware of it and can laugh about it too. For instance, I’m a notoriously slow driver. My friends laugh at my driving all the time. Especially when I point out that I drive a five-speed so I can feel like a racecar driver. It’s a joke about me, but I’m a part of the joke and can laugh about it too. They can even joke about me behind my back with it because I know upfront that they think it’s funny.
But again, using myself as an example, let’s look at another situation. I have a raised mole, almost center on my forehead. I used to think about having it removed, but the truth is — it’s a part of who I am. It took me years to come to terms with it, and I don’t really think about it anymore. But years ago, when I had a professional headshot done, the photographer photoshopped it out without discussing it with me. I was furious and told her to put it back. I was offended and felt judged that she deemed my mole so ugly that she removed it without even asking me about it. Needless to say, I never asked her to take my picture again. And making fun of that mole, though I’m at peace about it, can bring out the she-bear in me.
I hope all this is about as clear as mud. We (me included) just need to think about the words we say. Maybe it’s just a joke, but is it a joke at the expense of another? Are we teaching our kids kindness when we do these things? Are we showing the world the hands and feet of Jesus when we participate?
Today, as you pray, thank Jesus for showing us how to love others. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you filter everything through the lens of Jesus — to consider how others may perceive your actions. Pray that you will be given the eyes to see others the way that Jesus does and extend compassion, kindness, and love above all else.
SHARING ••• My Grace-Full Life is written by Denise Heidel. You are welcome to share anything I write, but please credit my writing and graphics accordingly. Visit www.MyGraceFullLife.com to read past blogs. Subscribe through my website to have My Grace-Full Life delivered to your email. You can unsubscribe at any time. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from the ESV translation.