It has been called “the Great Resignation” – the millions of people who quit their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tired of the monotony of office hours, they have chosen to use their time wisely. Realizing that capitalism only pays off for the rich, persons are accepting that the “American dream” is more like a fantasy.
It cannot be purchased in installments of $19.99. It will not instantly make you look 10 years younger or 20 pounds lighter. It will not regrow your hair or remove fine lines, dark spots or wrinkles.
Persons are snapping out of it. It was all a dream.
I don’t know if they were staring off into the distance or at a wall in their office when the realization occurred. But just look at America’s debt ceiling.
The sky may not be falling yet, but it is getting warmer, according to climate scientists. Institutions and infrastructures are crumbling. The world is barely holding up under all the pressure to conform to our consumption and greed.
Maybe the realization occurred while they were binge-watching their favorite television shows. They thought to themselves, “This cannot be all there is to life and living it: go to work and come home with only weekend commercial breaks. My life must have more meaning, more of a storyline than this.”
This simple back and forth was enough to cause a stirring and then an awakening.
Perhaps the awareness came during yet another rinse and repeat exercise of loading the washer, the dishwasher or the children up in the car for school.
The routine and its predictability week after week started to grate on their nerves or began to rub them the wrong way. “I am doing the same thing repeatedly. Literally, nothing is changing. I can’t go on like this.”
Then came the exhaustion, when they realized that they were doing a little too much of everything. They were tired of living paycheck to paycheck, of working for the bare minimum wage.
Working 40 hours a week on top of everything else that life requires, they were still not able to meet some of their basic needs. It just wasn’t adding up, so they quit.
It was much of the same realization for those who are quitting the church though not leaving the Christian faith. The institution simply does not work well for those who are seeking deeper answers to subjects once labelled taboo, like race, religion, sex and politics.
They are looking for the gospel of Jesus that says more about social justice and women’s rights, more to the oppressed and marginalized, and more about the ways in which we are called to live our lives as a counternarrative to the American empire.
To be sure, there are churches that are politically aligned, that are not shy about the kind of government they want. And I believe that lack of distinction between Caesar and Jesus is part of the problem.
Maybe it was the lack of separation between folding towels and shuffling paper that brought these realizations closer to home.
Perhaps the search for deeper meaning is connected to our collective witness of the millions of persons who have died due to COVID-19. After the loss of a loved one, it is not unusual for persons to examine their own lives and to question how they are living and what they believe.
The global pandemic has created a real “come to Jesus meeting” for Christians, as persons grapple with the effectiveness of a Sunday morning religion. They, too, are experiencing an awakening and now realize that salvation is a practice and not a prize.
Giving one’s life to Jesus is a daily event, a regular occurrence.
Howard Thurman writes in The Creative Encounter, “There need not be only one single rebirth but again and again a [person] may be reborn until at last there is nothing that remains between [them] and God.”
This is the work of deconstructing. It is feeling the pressure and pushing back on all the oppressive systems and structures. It is bearing down on what we believe until we see the “kin-dom” coming.
Many believers are comparing Jesus’ words with the church’s inactions. These are warning signs. Jesus’ words are written in red; they consider them all a sign.
Talk of hellfire and brimstone when the world is quite literally on fire is not a threat. It’s a red flag to end a relationship with the church in order to have a healthier one with Jesus.
People just want Jesus – without traditions of division and racialized restrictions, without fear of punishment or the high standards of moral perfection.
Raised in a conservative bubble and prepared for Jesus’ return, I did not see this coming. But I am so glad to bear witness.