We live in a world of toxicity.
Around every corner lies a new way to bring about our demise, dressed in wonder and smelling of roses. The thorns jab our sides and the sheer, momentary astonishment dissatisfies our needs – but we believe we need it. We tell everyone we know about the corner we just found and its ravishing beauty, but not about its destruction – we misdiagnose that the pain and ravenous desire are natural side effects of the goodness of the world.
We turn another corner and delight at a roaring fire licking the stones beneath, holding signs that say, “It was a pleasure to burn.”  Pages of history and testimony flutter off into the distance. We now can’t remember our past. Blank, burning paper catches your eye in the distance – a potentially beautiful story that will never have the chance to be written. The fire also chars at your will to fight without acknowledgement.
In the center of the city of continuous corners stands the statue of a lion whose mane reflects the light of unconditional love and whose eyes well up with mercy. He stands on justice and goodness and whispers to all who approach – “You doubt your worth. Don’t run from who you are.” 
We ache to turn the corners – in fact, we slowly come to realize that what lies beyond is fatal, but yet cannot seem to avert our gaze from that imminent chaos. The twists and turns are so hard to navigate, that even if we glance up and see the Lion, we do not know how to react to His brilliance and power. You put on your rose-tinted glasses.
I will venture to say that those who are stuck in their maze make my heart heavy and my lip quiver. However, what seems to sadden me most is when we dwell at the feet of the Lion and then turn towards the city to banish the thorny roses and censor whose stories get told.
Beauty is buried; redemption is silenced.
Multiple times a year I find myself deleting certain apps off of my phone because of how angry my thoughts become. Usually it coincides with an action by the government, a post of uncivilized rage due to a friend’s festering internal wounds, an unjust exploitation, or a moment of forgotten love. Since I do not have answers to all that I see, and confrontation with those set in their ways is typically futile, I usually just avoid the negativity at all causes. I put on my rose-tinted glasses.
I wrestle with this often – I want to speak up for what I believe is the truth of the Gospel, but fear the response from Christians and non-Christians alike. I want to scream out that we need to stop hating our enemies and fight for love, the reuniting of families, and everyone, in all their imperfection and brokenness, to know they are welcomed into the open arms of the Savior.
I fear this because I know we live in a world of toxicity. Everything good and beautiful has been warped, and we do not know how to handle it or see through its fog. Even as professed Christians, we all too often put on our rose-tinted glasses and choose to be ignorant to any harmful or hard to digest concept. Unfortunately, this leaves a lost and broken world with a handful of people standing by the Lion preaching that roses, along with their thorns, are not to be associated with, and believing that some stories could not possibly have a happy ending and are not worth pursuing. We allow the blank pages to burn and flowers to wither away under the mission of pursuing “holiness.”
As Christians, we cannot escape living in this world. If we could, I would be telling you the secret! In the past, I have been guilty myself of having the “I’m saved, so that’s all I need to worry about” mentality. I have seen scriptures and somehow believed that I had the right to criticize sinners from my imaginary pedestal. HELLO!! I still sin. My sin is not greater or lesser than anyone else’s sin by God’s standard. There has never been an earthly hierarchy in God’s plan. If we are being honest, all of us deserve to die from the corruption of our sinful nature. Our God is just – our imperfection is inadequate. BUT JESUS – the most undeserving redemption story of all time. He is our beautiful, unblemished sacrifice; when God looks at the shattered hearts of His people, he only sees His Perfect Son. The sin we suffer from has been completely covered by grace upon grace upon grace. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 
I think sometimes we forget this important detail – “above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”  Nothing wholesome or peaceful will ever come from hatred or meaningless disassociation. Through the lens of love, we can see the hurt and the brokenness, but also still see a person so deeply loved by God. We can see the beauty beyond the scars. We can see the unwritten pages and, through love, see God take a pen and begin writing his next great chapter.
Redemption is the story of the wrecked and the weak. I love how the psalmist Asaph speaks to the representatives of God saying, “Defend the defenseless, the fatherless and the forgotten,
the disenfranchised and the destitute.
4 Your duty is to deliver the poor and the powerless;
liberate them from the grasp of the wicked.
5 But you continue in your darkness and ignorance
while the foundations of society are shaken to the core!” 
Paul’s commission to the believers in Colossae is a beautiful reminder as well: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” 
It is our wonderful commission to love so deeply that the true source of our peace and hope radiates straight through us. We cannot do this by pointing out the sins in unbelievers; we cannot do this by claiming church is only for the righteous; we cannot do this by ignoring the poverty, injustice, abandonment, and segregation in our world and nation.
Don’t wear rose-tinted glasses. Don’t choose to live in blissful optimism while turning a blind eye to the hurting world around you. We all sin. We all need redemption. Blank pages are not meant to be burned – they are meant to be lifted to the hands of the Father, tear-stained and torn.
His love is unconditional. He desires for you to know his heart. He echoes his purpose for your life over and over – “You doubt your worth. Don’t run from who you are.” 
 Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
 The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, CS Lewis
 Romans 5:8 NIV
 1 Peter 4:8 NIV
 Psalm 82:3-5 TPT
 Colossians 3:12-14