To the best of my knowledge it’s the first time that a song ever made me really think about the world that I live in. I was probably 12 years old when I heard Randy Stonehill sing that first line.
“Well, it’s okay to murder babies but we really ought to save the whales.”
That general theme continued into the chorus.
“Stop the world. I want to get off. This is too weird for me. Stop the world. I want to get off. I get the definite impression that this isn’t how it’s meant to be.”
For some reason, those lyrics have stuck with me. Lately, I’ve been thinking about them even more than usual.
I guess that’s because this world is getting too weird for me too.
Every Christian, to some degree, wants the world stopped so that they can get off. The weirdness is put before us everyday. Everyday I am confronted with something that gives me the impression that this isn’t how it’s meant to be.
I see it in the male track star who is now identifying as a woman and how even the first thought of that not being normal is seen as hateful or fearful.
I see it in corrupt governments where even the so-called “conservative” politicians pass billion dollar tax increases without a second thought.
I see it in terrorist organizations that are bent on destroying the entire world.
And I see it each week when I get another prayer request for a father with cancer or a little girl who can’t stop passing out.
Jesus, stop the world. I want to get off.
The early church had another way of saying it.
That means, “Our Lord, come!” It was Paul’s way of saying, “Stop the world, I want to get off.”
It’s good for Christians to feel this way. As another Christian artist from days gone by sang, “This world is not my home, I’m just passing through.”
But we must also be careful. Even tourists have a responsibility to do good before they leave town.
In Amos’ day there were people who had their own way of saying “Stop the world I want to get off.” Here’s what God had to say to them through Amos.
Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD!
Why would you have the day of the LORD?
It is darkness, and not light,
as if a man fled from a lion,
and a bear met him,
or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall,
and a serpent bit him.
Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light,
and gloom with no brightness in it? Amos 5:18-20 (ESV)
The people were living with their heads in the sand. They were apathetic to the injustices all around them as well as to their own sins. Sure, they were crying for the Lord but it was more of a self-righteous cry. “Lord, come and save me from all of these crazy people.” And it wasn’t so much the Lord that they wanted, They were more concerned with the world being stopped. Or at least those parts of the world that didn’t meet their approval.
And that’s the part where I need a helpful reminder. If all of the crazy people left the word, I would do quite a fine job of messing it up all by myself.
There is no shortage of confusion and chaos in this world. Take for example the recent phenomenon of people who intentionally handicap themselves so that they can identify with the physically impaired. Some have gone so far as to intentionally cut off arms and legs. Others have paralyzed themselves. They are called transabled people.
And it makes no sense to me.
Stop the world.
I want to get off.
But the world hasn’t stopped yet. And I’m still here.
When Jesus was praying for his followers in John 17, he said this.
I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. John 17:15-16 (ESV)
Jesus could have asked the Father to remove us from the world. He could have stopped the world. But he didn’t. He didn’t because he had others to add to his kingdom. No doubt, some of those others include people who think it’s normal to mutilate their bodies. And the typical means by which he transforms those people is by working in and through those who are already his people.
In other words, Jesus hasn’t stopped the world yet because he wants his people to be here serving as salt and light.
The world is crazy. It’s not how it was intended to be. What was once absurd is now the norm. And what Jesus calls us to be, salt and light, is now terribly offensive. But lovingly offensive for the glory of Jesus and the good of our neighbor is our mission for as long as we are here.
Jesus hasn’t stopped the world.
But one day he will.
And when he does, may he not find our heads in the sand.
May he instead find our mouths speaking the truth in love. May he find our hands serving those who are in need, however different or confused they may be. May he find our feet standing on the truth. And may he find our hearts overflowing with his genuine love.