It was a simple enough post. I took a screenshot of our Commander-in-Chief as he gave his primetime address to the nation (Thursday, September 1st) from Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His speech, entitled, “The Continued Battle for the Soul of the Nation”, came equipped with all the optics of the former Soviet Union (or Nazi Germany) with an ominous dark backdrop that dripped with blood red lighting. His speech was passionate, clear, divisive, and (dare I say it?) terrifying.
Yes, in a primetime address to the nation, President Biden said, in part, “MAGA Republicans pose a clear and present danger [to American democracy]. It’s in our hands, yours and mine, to stop the assault on American democracy…MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards. Backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love.”
Never in my lifetime have I heard a sitting U.S. President target fellow Americans with such heinous words. I felt what many of my fellow Americans felt: anger. So, knowing that the pen is mightier than the sword, I took that screenshot of our Commander-in-Chief and wrote the following Facebook post:
My name is David Cotner. I’m a child of God, a husband to Heather, a father to five, a pastor on the prairie, an Iraq War Veteran, and (now, apparently) a threat to democracy and the very soul of our country…
The darkness grows. It billows from the top as the sewage of fear erupts below. Yes, the darkness is thick out there, but so is Gospel hope…
#WeNeedADeliverer #WeNeedARedeemer #HisNameIsJesus
That’s it…I felt that my post was simple, fairly unemotional, and filled with Gospel hope. I looked it over, smiled, and said under my breath, “Here. We. Go.”, fully expecting about 15 likes and 2 comments (which is pretty average for my Facebook posts, especially the ones with a political flair about them)…That post went live on Friday, September 2nd, and initially gained about 15 likes and 2 comments (par for the course)…Then, slowly, it began to be shared…2 shares…4 shares…6 shares…All pretty standard stuff. I thought nothing of it. September 2nd eventually bleeds into September 7th and I notice my phone is blowing up…Multiple friend requests and dozens of new follows on my page…”What in the world?”, I thought to myself. But I was busy with ministry responsibilities and kept going about my day. Later that same day (September 7th) I realize that my September 2nd post is getting more and more reactions and comments…50 likes…60 likes…70 likes…And the comments kept at the same pace…50 comments…60 comments…70 comments. But what really floored me was the number of shares my post was generating…400 shares…500 shares…600 shares…At present, my post has been shared 2,000 times, and continues to gain traction…
According to online sources, a Facebook post is considered “viral” when it reaches at least 1,500 shares. Now, to be clear, I had no intention of this post becoming viral. I’m just a no-name preacher man out in the middle of the prairie trying to spread a little good by telling people about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. I merely made my post to infuse Gospel hope into the darkness and fear of our current political climate. But (man alive!) what a rush of adrenaline to see this post go viral…
Goodness, this blog post is already getting too long. I’m already at 573 words in this blog post. Online experts say that people’s attention spans usually dwindle rapidly at 500 words. So, if you’re still reading this, congratulations. I have no prize for you, but congratulations. You’re 73 words above average. And make no mistake about it, “readers are leaders”…So keep reading!
You know, obviously, I’m amazed at the number of shares this post generated. It clearly struck a nerve with people and ignited something deep within them. But why? It’s simple really: Words. Are. Powerful. They can be used for evil or for good. We teach children at a young age, and rightfully so, that they should choose their words carefully…The Bible admonishes us along these same lines: King Solomon states in Proverbs 18:21a, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” King Solomon continues in Proverbs 25:11 with this poetic truth, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” Then, in the New Testament, Pastor James, writing to his congregation, warns: “How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so” (James 3:5b-11). Yes, words are powerful. So, choose them wisely.
I’ll end with this…I love the darker characters in novels and movies: Drosselmeyer in the Nutcracker, V in the movie “V for Vendetta”, and Willy Wonka and his band of merry Oompa Loompas. I love all of these fictional characters, but I’m especially drawn to Willy Wonka. “So much time and so little to do! Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it.” 🙂 Why the draw towards Willy Wonka? His charisma? His leadership style of the mysterious chocolate factory? His dark sense of humor? Yes. Yes. And yes. But more than all that…I love Willy Wonka’s use of words. He does it so well, embracing the reality of darkness, but with an eye towards hope. Remember the final scene of that 60’s classic? “So shines a good deed in a weary world.” This remark given as Charlie Bucket cautiously, but bravely does the right thing in returning the Everlasting Gobstopper to Willy Wonka. Yes, I love people (fictional or not) that embrace the reality of darkness, but with an eye towards hope. And that’s why I made this viral post to begin with…To remind people that the darkness is truly (devilishly, hellishly) thick out there, but so is Gospel hope.
And what is the Gospel? Listen closely…”Oompa loompa doompety doo. I’ve got a perfect puzzle for you. Oompa loompa doompety dee. If you are wise you’ll listen to me…”
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (The Gospel of John. Chapter 3. Verse 16.)
Yes, the darkness is mighty thick out there, but so is Gospel hope. Do you have such hope?