Happy New Year

It’s a new year and it’s time for some changes.  On that note, there’s something we need to talk about.

It’s becoming an epidemic in our culture, particularly to internet users.  Particularly those internet users on social media.  It shows up right before our eyes, and when we see it we want to see more.  We know we shouldn’t click but sometimes it’s just too enticing and we can’t help ourselves.

You know what I’m talking about, don’t know? Clickbait.  Maybe you don’t know the term, but if you’ve ever used facebook or visited a news site (or maybe I should say “news” site) you’ve seen these before.  Websites make money from ad revenue.  The more their site gets visited, the more they can make on ads.  So if you read a headline but don’t click the link, that does them no good. They must make you click.

That can add up to some pretty ridiculous headlines.   Here are some of my favorite actual Clickbait titles:
They Fell Asleep On A Plane but Get A Huge Surprise Upon Waking Up.
Everyone Thought She Was Wearing Normal Jeans. When I Saw The Truth? Oh my.
During This Show, A Dolphin Jumped On Her. What It Did Was Embarrassing.
Seemed Like He’s Just Walking His Dogs. When I Looked Closer, I Was Dumbfounded.
When The Dog Finds Out Cat Had Kittens, It’s Too Precious.
He Cuts The Handle Off This Toilet Brush. Why? Pure Genius.
He Puts A Bar Of Soap In The Microwave And A Minute Later It’s Wild.

And my personal favorite:
When She Places A Mug Over An Egg, It Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This.

Really? It doesn't get any better than this?? Clickbait is everywhere which means it must work. We see these promises of exciting new knowledge and entertainment and we must know! All our lives we’ve searched for deep meaning and satisfaction. Come to find out there’s nothing better than a mug over an egg (I’ll save you the trouble, it’s just a way to separate the yolk and the white. Pretty sure there are much easier ways to do this without getting an extra dish dirty).

If there’s a better example out there of All Hype and No Substance, of All Promise but No Delivery, I can’t think of a better one.  Except maybe our New Year’s Resolutions.  “2015! A new year! The year things finally change!  The year I ultimately become who I want to be!”  We might have said those things in 2014, and if we’re not careful we just might say them again in 2016.  We live for the exciting, the memorable, the eventful, the big changes. We have falsely come to believe that life is about the sensational and the dramatic – the 50 pounds lost, the total overhaul in attitude and outlook, the big promotion.

And certainly some of us have big changes we need to make, but they likely won’t happen overnight.  If God is God of the big things, he is also God of the small things. And the more I understand of the ways of Jesus, I think God wants to know us in the littlest, most mundane and boring parts of our life.  In her book The Quotidian Mysteries, Kathleen Norris puts it this way:

“The Bible is full of evidence that God's attention is indeed fixed on the little things. But this is not because God is a great cosmic cop, eager to catch us in minor transgressions, but simply because God loves us--loves us so much that the divine presence is revealed even in the meaningless workings of daily life. It is in the ordinary, the here-and-now, that God asks us to recognize that the creation is indeed refreshed like dew-laden grass that is "renewed in the morning" or to put it in more personal and also theological terms, "our inner nature is being renewed everyday.”

I remember finishing that book a few years ago and then going to do the dishes, and asking God, “Really? You came down to earth for this?  A life of daily routine and chores and minutiae?”  Maybe I didn’t actually pray the word ‘minutiae’, but you get the idea.  As singer/songwriter Sara Groves puts it, every day we’re “setting up the pins for knocking ‘em down.”  It’s not always exciting. There’s rarely hype.  But there is beauty to be found.  Jesus came to Earth to fully know life as a human, meaning he understands and cares about even the most seemingly drudging parts of our lives.

Whatever we may be up to in 2015, let’s ask ourselves this question: what does it look like for us to go through life – our work, family, relationships, hobbies, free time – and do those things in Jesus’ name? Every day we make decisions, and those decisions make us.  Over time, when we place our life in God’s hands, we’re slowly but surely being formed into his image.  We can trust that God is acting on our behalf and for our good. As we’re told in Lamentations, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.”  God is no clickbait; he is good on his promises.  With that in mind, it is indeed a happy new year.

Logan Carpenter