I had what I consider to be a major reading assignment to do today, and a little bit of work to do as well, so like most days that I don’t have set hours, I went to 30-30 Coffee to work. My reading assignment was to read the entire Gospel of Matthew in one sitting – it took me about two hours after a couple of interruptions. I don’t know if you’ve undertaken that amount of Bible reading at once, but it’s a bit grueling. It’s grueling because I’ve read so much of it before. I know most of the stories from previous readings, and it was hard for me not to skip ahead. I came away from the reading with a few questions for Matthew and Jesus. I won’t get into those here.
One of my interruptions was from a local news station. I knew that 30-30 just announced that they are opening a second location in town, and my friends Ty and Dan are part-owners, so I was already inclining myself towards answering ‘Yes’ to talking about how awesome my friends are on the news. Then they asked me if I would be willing to share my opinion on Facebook putting Amber Alerts on my newsfeed. Before I could think about whether I even had an opinion, my mouth said, “Sure”. Then I realized I agreed to share my opinion on something I don’t care about at all: privacy.
I finished my reading of Matthew just before they came over to talk with me, and unfortunately for me, I was actually on Facebook when they came over. I’ll give you the basics of what I told the reporter:
(Summary) “I know some people who will be opposed to this idea based on not wanting their privacy to be intruded upon by receiving unwanted alerts on their Facebook page. However, I also know that most moms of small children are almost constantly on Facebook, and they would be interested to know when there is a child who has been abducted in their area. I even have some friends who already share Amber Alerts on Facebook. Since Amber Alerts already pop up on television and radio, I see no reason why Facebook wouldn’t be utilizing this technology to get the word out. As a father, if my kids were abducted, I would want everyone to be disturbed by this information, as it would be disturbing to have this happen, and everyone else I know should also be disturbed.” When asked about what I want for my kids, I said, “I want them to become awesome human beings.” When prompted about whether I want them to be safe, I said, “I’m not really that concerned with safety. I want my kids to love people, to live well, and to learn to trust people. I think if we spend our time in public places with our kids being afraid for their safety, they will develop fear of others. I don’t think that’s a healthy way to live. Of course I want my kids to be safe, but I don’t think its the most important thing.”
I knew that one of these sentences would be snatched and used on the news tonight. I didn’t know how in or out of context my words would be used. I hoped, after the conversation, that I had challenged this person’s view of safety and what it means to be a healthy person. But, the reality is, she was only looking for a sound byte. I knew this.
Here is the video posted tonight on WEEK News 25 of the story that was run. I’m the last person to speak. I basically said nothing. What I thought was curious, however, was the long shot of me on my computer with my Bible next to it, then the close up of my Bible, prior to me talking. It was setting a context for what I was about to say, and a strange one when you consider that I had nothing important to say, according to what they chose to use of all of my words.
Today, I’m the guy who reads his Bible who is a father, that said, “Why not use a system that’s quicker in order to find my kids…of course”. That’s it. Oh well. At least I did my civic duty.
However, if you think about this story, my testimony, and what was reported, it does make you wonder about things like the Gospel of Matthew, right? I mean, history is always interpreted by the one telling it. Just like I said a bunch of good stuff, and nothing of that was reported, isn’t it entirely possible that that is what happened in the composition of Scripture?
For instance, if you read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), it’s not a free-flowing discourse. It’s a bunch of snippets of wisdom sayings that Jesus said. What did he say in context? We’ll never know. Hopefully we can trust that Matthew (and whoever added, subtracted, and multiplied his Gospel into what we have today) reported the meat and not just the convenient stuff that Jesus said that serves Matthew’s overall agenda (which he certainly had).
What our task is, then, is to mine the depths of what we do have in order to get to the heart of the message of Jesus. All we have are second-hand reports to go on. What I do know (because of faith) is that Jesus’ life, message, death, and resurrection have incredible depth of meaning for all of us, opening the way of life for all of us. I have to take that by faith, perhaps even more so now that I have experienced saying a lot and hearing little come of it. What a mystery.