On both sides of the political spectrum, we are continually being told by talking heads what we are to be alarmed by. If you have no crisis in your life just tune into your favorite flavor of news commentary and before the first commercial break you will be knee deep in conflict with people you never met. If you want to step into the arena of political opinion you must have enemies and agree with a list of crisis points in order to enter the conversation. In the Church-world there are entire movements created by and dedicated to the latest crisis in theology or how the Church is supposed to relate to culture. Some families have lived an on-going crisis mode in their family line for so many generations that a life of peace, when described to them, seems alien. Crisis and enemies sell. They also pollute the emotional and spiritual air we breathe.
In southern Oregon where I live, we are surrounded by forest fires. Our air quality has been listed as the worst in the nation. Week after week of smoke-filled skies has become a real health hazard. There appears to be no immediate relief in sight. The presence of smoke also begins to affect your psyche and how you see life. To look out where blues skies and green forests once dominated the landscape and now only see the muted colors of a brown and persistent haze can begin to affect a person on many levels. At some point, this can change a person’s perspective on life.
If you want a breath of fresh air in southern Oregon you have to get out of the area. Several of my friends have gone to the coast to breathe in some fresh air. Some have looked at wind current maps and changed vacation plans based on the air quality. A change of location is the only hope of taking in a lung full of clean air. Fresh air has become the new vacation destination.
The prophetic voice of the Church in culture is under assault. The entities that continually create the next crisis have no power to steal our voice. We have to give permission for this theft to take place. The thief is smart. He will simply bring in wave after wave of smoky air fueled by the latest crisis-fire of fear and despair and cause some to believe this is our unchangeable reality. He wants us to stay put in this hazardous air thinking we only have a single option.
There will always be the presence of a never-ending supply of hazardous spiritual air fueled by the next burning crisis. We can get so surrounded by this deceptive smoke that we assume it is our lot in life. That is the masked lie we are being led to believe. That deception takes hold of us when we allow anyone but God to define our reality.
It is time to change our emotional and spiritual location. The clean air of prophetic hope is waiting to fill our lungs. That fresh breath will fuel the sound and quality of our voice to those coughing in the unhealthy air of hopelessness. That sound will announce to a suffocating culture that hope is possible and available even in the middle of all the smoke.