smug: having or showing an excessive pride in oneself or one’s achievements. – New Oxford American Dictionary
October 6, 2011
Dearest Canaan EMers,
I want to call the Bay Area “L.A. Smug.” We don’t have smog here, but we are plenty smug. I could call myself a “smuggle.” Cupertino, of course, is one of “smuggliest” places in the Bay Area. Rarely does this majority Asian city, where so many of us live, ever experience as tragic a day as it did on Wednesday.
First, the lockdown after suspected gunman Shareef Allman was alleged to have shot 10 people, killing 3, at the quarry near Cupertino. After Wednesday’s daylong search, Allman was shot and killed by police yesterday morning. As we await the fall out, we learned that Allman was a Christian who lived an altruistic life. His pastors could not understand how he could have snapped into a violent spree and pled for him to turn himself in.
Second, on Wednesday afternoon, the death of cultural icon Steve Jobs was announced. A well deserved outpouring of grief and tribute continues. Jobs did for four industries what I hope Christians will do as we live out the revolutionary and life transforming message of Jesus Christ!
Beneath the sadness that surrounds the deaths of Jobs, Allman, the shooting victims, and their families is a sense that life is unfair. Indeed, the “Occupy Wall Street” and “Occupy San Francisco” movements reveal the frustration and anger many Americans feel in the face of growing economic inequity and the dearth of good jobs.
When people experience unfairness in life, it is natural to express anger at political and corporate leaders – and even God. For many who have benefited from the earlier economic boom, it is tempting to withdraw into smug lives and shut out the world’s pain.
But there is another response that followers of Jesus can offer the world. We can be God’s instrument of righteousness (Romans 6:13), message of hope (Romans 8:18-28), and ministers of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:16-21). Like Jesus, we can share in the sufferings of life’s unfairness, but also point to his resurrection power. We can shine the light of hope for this life and the next. To be a (missional) Christian is to completely give one’s life to bringing the hope of Jesus Christ to all.
That is why I am so proud of our Summer Short Term mission team, the VBS volunteers, the Young Adults who marched against slavery and trafficking, and the folk who led worship at City Team Oakland. Because of the reality of Christ’s love and grace in your lives, you have chosen to serve the poor and lost rather than withdraw into smug-land. You have chosen to turn mourning into morning. You have chosen to light a candle rather than curse the darkness.
Be blessed – be a blessing,