Nagging Questions: Why Can’t I buy TP?

Nagging Questions: Why Can’t I buy TP?

It’s one of the odder things about the COVID 19 event, and it’s become a nagging question: Why can’t I buy TP?  If you need 144 rolls of toilet paper for a 30-day quarantine you probably should’ve been seeing a Doctor long before COVID 19. 

Why can’t you get TP? Let’s get to the bottom of this. The reason you can’t buy TP is that we now live lifestyles of disconnection. We are disconnected from each other.  Disconnection results in being alone. In our homes, at work, in our community and on a larger scale our state, nation, and the rest of humanity, it’s me, myself, and I.  When you live disconnected egoism runs rampant.  It’s “me” against the world. Everything becomes a zero-sum game, only one winner.  Selfishness rules the day. Such an attitude in life is opposed to living as a disciple of Jesus.

Mark 12:31 & John 15:13 (NIV)
”Love your neighbor as yourself…greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

I watched a video of a couple of people getting into a fistfight over TP.  Yep, one person had 4 or 5 jumbo packages of TP in their shopping cart and another person was upset that there was no more on the shelf and a verbal argument turned physically violent.  The incivility, the causticness, the aggression are all because these individuals had no sense of connection to one another.  If there is no connection there is no empathy, there is no concern for the other, it’s all about me.  I win, you lose. I get more, you get less. It sucks to be you.  The reaction of the affluent when they suddenly can’t get what they want is anger.

Let’s dig a little deeper and try to discover why we have become disconnected from one another. Paul, one of Jesus’ early disciples, tells his protégée, Timothy:

1 Timothy 6:9-10 (MSG)
But if it's only money these leaders are after, they'll self-destruct in no time. Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble.

Money brings affluence, the more affluent the more independent you become from others, you have enough money to take care of yourself, therefore you don’t need anyone (Matthew 19:24).  So not needing others you disassociate.  The easier life becomes the less you need the other that’s why we live lifestyles of disconnection.

If you’re not flush with cash, the rise of social media has contributed to the disconnection problem.  We text, seldom talk, we meet over the internet with zoom, skype, seldom face to face, obviously out of necessity now, but before we kept electronically connected but physically alone. We keep those we identified as friends updated with our twitter feeds, Instagram’s, and Facebook accounts. But we remain physically isolated from them.  It seems like we’re connected through the internet, yet it’s a false sense of connectivity.  It’s hard to replicate a hug online.  Your use of social media can subtly disconnect you.

It has become normal to read about someone else’s misfortune and then just move on to the next story.  As long as the catastrophe doesn’t affect me, it’s someone else’s problem to deal with.  We sing a different tune when it is ourselves or our loved ones in dire straits.  If it’s my misfortune then it should be everyone’s problem.  If it’s not about a loved one or me, the attention span is short.  We disconnect from the pain and suffering of others. Are you rolling with me?

You might think, well that’s not me. I don’t isolate, I get together with my friends face to face all the time.  Most not likely during the past 30 days with this “Stay At Home” order, but when you do get back to your tribe ask yourself in your circle of associates if you are just having conversations with yourself.  What that means is everyone in your group thinks the same things as you do, you hold the same opinions, you agree on issues, and of course, you feel that your positions and interpretations are right because everyone in the group agrees.   The group is homogenous, everyone is like everyone else. We become dissociated from other groups that have different ideas, different answers, and different ways of dealing with issues.  Because of that dissociation, our tribe can demonize the other group.  Because they are different, they must be wrong, they must be evil, they must be subversive, they have become our enemy, and the world would be a better place without them.  This behavior is in our headlines, Antifa, Black lives Matters, PETA, Deplorables, Pro-Choice, Pro-Life, Tea Party, LGBTQ movements, the KKK, The Religious Right, and the like.  Each group reads off its script and then shouts at everyone who disagrees.  It’s just a matter of time before group think begins to stink. Your group has unintentionally disassociated with the larger community.

Politics, today, is another great example of dissociation. The major parties are full of it, playing a zero-sum game.  Today’s politics is no longer about doing what is best for America, it’s no longer cooperative, it's competitive, win at all costs and by any means.  The aisle is divided with each side trying to win.  The agenda of my group is much more important than what you want.  Gridlock plugs the system up. That’s why nothing substantial gets done politically, the parties are disconnected from the dream of America.

I can’t buy TP.  People horde because it’s “me verse them” (Galatians 5:20).  As a culture, this growing dissociation continues to divide us (Matthew 12:25).  We are dividing ourselves into smaller and smaller like-minded groups and some have taken it so far that they are a group of one. “I am not my brother’s keeper.”  Division creates “a caring less” at best and violent animosity at worst.  I can’t buy TP because of cultural disconnection.

In such a culture it is time for you as a follower of Jesus to stand up and set the example for what living for something bigger than yourself is all about.  You have been empowered by the Holy Spirit to live in community, in association with many different thinking believers.  The Church has been guilty of dissociating, with our branches of Christianity, our schisms and splits, our denominations, all of which have fractured the body of Christ which is intended to be known for its unity.  We are to be “one” in the love of Christ, demonstrating that love to the world.

Ephesians 4:3 (NIV)
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

We are in this life together. A caring community is seen in the behavior of those very first committed followers of Jesus.  One of Jesus' inner circle was Peter and Peter preached “Get out while you can; get out of this sick and stupid culture!" (Acts 2:40 (MSG) The scripture then reads:

Acts 2:41-45 (MSG)
That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.

Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person's need was met.

It’s hard to believe but they committed to membership!  Ah, but that’s another teaching for another time. Note the caring for one another.  Those who had more than enough gave out of their abundance to those who didn’t have enough. In a case of bathroom tissue from Costco, there are 5 individually packed rolls of TP containing 6 rolls each.  There are a lot of women in my home.  We go through a lot of TP.  Might I be able to part with one of those 5 individually packed rolls because you don’t have any?  Out of my abundance, I seek to meet the needs of others at a cost, this time the cost is 6 rolls of toilet paper.  Friends, that’s love. Love wipes out egoism with its selfishness.

If we care for one another, then band together, we can care for others and in doing so demonstrate that we are concerned about the welfare of those who are not part of our group.  We shout that those different from us matter too. In meeting needs we become counter-cultural demonstrating that we are in this together, its demonstrating love to our neighbors (Luke 10:25-37), even going so far as to do good to those that hate us (Luke 6:27). You can play an important roll.

During the 2nd century, there was a plague that historians believe killed 25% of the population of the Roman Empire. During that terrible time, Christians saw it as their duty to care for the sick. That care cost many believers their very lives.  As ambassadors of God, their message was that the world has been broken by sin and God wants to redeem it and them.  The result was Christianity flourishing. ( Lyman Stone )

As committed followers of Christ, we should die serving our neighbor than surrounded by cases of toilet paper that we never got a chance to use.  ( Lyman Stone )  By the way that’s why we are following the guidelines of the government, keeping social distance, staying at home only necessary travel, washing hands, wearing masks.  We are setting an example.  We are doing what the scripture admonishes us to do:

Romans 13:1-2 (MSG)
Be a good citizen. All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it's God's order. So live responsibly as a citizen. If you're irresponsible to the state, then you're irresponsible with God, and God will hold you responsible.

This is a good place for this teaching to an end.  But if you would allow me an indulgence, there was this flashing neon sign on a side street just off the main drag of this teaching. I wanted to just file the paper work on this teaching but the  thought kept hanging on so I just have to take a swipe at it.

The irony of being online, live streaming this teaching, is not missed on me.  We have discussed the dangers of isolation and the dissociation it can bring.  Christians need to be in fellowship with each other.  We need to be in the same room.  I have noticed over the years how being with a group can bring a powerful shared experience of the presence of God.  Jesus said, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them" (Matt 18:20 (NIV). The question has been asked, “Can I Be a Christian and Not Go To Church?”  What is being asked is can I be a Christian and self-isolate, can I go it alone, can I be a lone ranger Christian?   There may be that rare individual that God calls to isolation, but we are called to be members of the body.  Christians that have sworn off assembling with other believers are going to get picked off by the enemy (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).  Such a soul will drift away (Hebrews 2:1).  We need each other to stay sharp (Proverbs 27:17).

Christians who have no fellowship with other Christians, no personal positive contact with other believers, are a sad example of disassociation.  Since we are being good citizens and are keeping apart for a time, right now be encouraged not to be a lurker.  A lurker is someone who is watching, reading, listening but never lets others know they are doing so.  Don’t be a lurker. Leave a comment, send an email, interact, let us know you’ve been with us.  If you found this teaching encouraging, tell others about it.  This is a great time to invite people to go online with you.  Share this video.  Speaking of sharing, if you have an abundance of TP…

Father as we continue to worship you in this very different time, even though we are not physically present with each other, draw us close to you so that we can be spiritually close to one another.  Thank you for the mutual support and encouragement that is ours to enjoy in your Church. 


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