“Yet even now,” declares the LORD,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the LORD your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.
In Joel’s day (and even still today) a sign of great mourning and grief was to tear your garments. It wasn’t that they’d bust out into Hulk Hogan’s “I’m a Real American Hero” and rip up their camel-haired cloaks to shreds. It was usually a slit from bottom to top that indicated deep grief.
Over the years, however, the practice itself became more cathartic than symbolic. In other words whenever they would begin feeling guilt or grief they wouldn’t actually experience deep heart anguish. Instead they’d very quickly go to their garments and start tearing. They had developed what Michael Horton rightly calls a therapeutic worldview, where:
there is no sin and guilt to be forgiven by God but only burdens and feelings of guilt for failing to live up to the expectations of oneself or other human being. (Horton, Christless Christianity, 43)
I often wonder if things like Facebook and blogging aren’t similar to rending our garments instead of our hearts. How often do we see Facebook statuses that are merely a means to “get something off my chest”? It’s the modern day rending of the garment.
And just as it was in the day of the Joel rending a garment is a way to communicate to others that junk is going on in your life. Usually a good number of people will leave comments and condolences. And if you aren’t susceptible of your own heart you can become a pity junkie. You can find solace and camaraderie around elements of the Fall instead of finding hope and joy in light of our ever increasing Redemption.
If there is real sin and guilt in your life then you need to deal with by taking it to the Cross and not to your Facebook or Twitter account. No matter if it’s real or false guilt you need to know that a pity party and encouragement from all of your Facebook peeps isn’t going to help you in the end. The shame you feel is too deep of a wound to be healed by a “like” button, a pithy statement, or a couple of shares. You need real redemption from a real God that is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and saves you from a very real hell.
Therefore, rend your hearts and not your Facebook status. The temporary catharsis of getting something of your chest won’t cut it. The Lord is actively engaged in rescuing your entire heart and not just those little follies and foibles that you are comfortable enough to make public. Jesus intends to conquer every sin that He died for. Now, that is something worth blogging and tweeting about.