Last week my wife was on Facebook and she asked me “What’s Coney 2012?” I told her I had no idea what she was talking about. I few days later I saw something in the news about KONY 2012, so the two of us watched the video:
Our first reaction was kind of scratching our heads. We were familiar with Invisible Children. We saw their first documentary several years ago at church. But something just seemed very off about this video. I appreciate that they’re willing to dedicate their lives to helping other people, but the cutesy hipster vibe of the film with college fists in the air around the world seemed a far cry from reality. Lots, and lots of articles have popped up since then confirming that the situation is much more complex than the video naively implies.
But our lasting reaction has been a sobering reflection that Invisible Children started out as 3 Christians seeking to live out their faith in Christ and has ended in an organization with a worldwide mouthpiece that has erased Christ from their lips. In an effort to “make Kony famous” they have neglected to make God famous (“hallowed be your name,” we pray). Contrary to their first film, God is never mentioned or even hinted at once in the 30 minute film that has now been seen by 100 million people (the most successful viral video in history). Is that really something to get excited about? I don’t mean to single these Christians out. Lord knows that the rest of us aren’t much better at stepping out in faith to proclaim God’s name. But with all the attention and hype the video has received, it’s worth reflecting upon the thoughts of other Christians in Africa:
Justice is not only going to happen when our oppressor is captured and taken to The Hague, there are many leaders in Uganda who have done far worse atrocities and qualify as well to go to the Hague even before Kony but no one seems to say anything about them. Justice is going to happen if we the oppressed are restored and given living hope. This hope is what the oppressor took; taking the life of the oppressor does not bring back any hope. I have realized that hope is not in the cows, land, food or other material things we owned, because when Kony took all these from us, we lost hope and life was meaningless. Hope is in life eternal, hope is in Christ. This hope no man can take.
Jesus defeated evil by laying down his life. Christians today can not defeat evil by pushing a share button or attending a fundraiser. Those are good things, but at some level a bigger sacrifice is required. To build schools and bring clean water, to protect the widow and orphan, to care for the environment creatively so that food and fuel are adequate to sustain life, to embody the love of Jesus in a way that the poor can hear and see and touch and be transformed. I know this sounds hard, and I don’t mean it to sound self-righteous. We struggle with this issues, with our natural tendency to walk across the road and ignore the beat-up man on the ground. I hope the excitement and awareness of this generation will propel hundreds and thousands to turn away from a life devoted to comfort and enter into the hard and dangerous work of teaching and healing and preaching.
So before you send $30 to Invisible Children for your “action kit”, consider sending $30 to those preaching and proclaiming God’s name in Africa.