Experiencing “Zoom fatigue” yet? If you’re working from home, you may find that you are caught up in more Zoom meetings than ever in person at the office. Or perhaps your days are filled with distance learning by Zoom. Or you’re “Zooming” to worship with your scattered congregation on the Lord’s Day. Then there are all those amazing Zoom performances designed to lift our spirits and express our gratitude to front-line workers. As exhausting as all this “Zooming” may be, what a fortuitous platform for all the good things emerging out of this crisis.
Yet, just as a novel definition of “zooming” enters the lexicon, closely behind it comes “Zoom bombing.” Recently at my old law school out in Malibu, students were intensely focused on making their moot court arguments remotely via Zoom, with everyone’s faces and voices being shown on the now-familiar mosaic screen. Then shock and horror! Suddenly the screen was filled with gross, pornographic images, and a bossy voice began issuing curt commands to aghast students and judges alike. In the most rude and crude manner, they had been “Zoom bombed.”
As these radically different sides of “Zooming” illustrate, there’s nothing like a crisis to bring out the best and worst in people. For good folks, it’s an opportunity to serve, often courageously. But for folks bent on mischief, no crisis is ever wasted. The question is, how can there be millions of good people so productive, creative, and uplifting, and—by stark contrast—countless bad guys who insist on doing evil? If only we were just talking about hacker-nerds who need to get a life! Unfortunately, there are corrupt governments lying about fatal facts and making dissenters disappear. And unprincipled politicians on every side who can’t resist politicizing catastrophe. And callous dealers selling PPE at extortionate prices to hospitals in dire need.
Yet, “let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” If my life were suddenly projected onto a Zoom screen, I hesitate to think what my personal “mosaic” would look like. As crusty old guys go, I’m pretty good for the most part. Maybe above average. I might even be proud to have the better images of myself appear for all the world to see. But there are aspects of my life I would be loathe to share. When I join the meeting all too aware of my worse self, I click “Join Without Video,” preferring to appear as a dark, blacked-out box hiding the “other me.” And then there’s the “Mute” feature. Far too often I should have “muted,” but didn’t; or (more rarely) should have “unmuted,” but kept quiet. When Paul lamented, “What a wretched man I am!” (Rom. 7:24), I get it. I’m good, I’m bad, I’m ugly. I’m guessing you are, too. So, what’s with that?
A lot of folks would say that, when we sin, our better selves are being Zoom-bombed by Satan. But that gives the Evil One too much credit. Seems he covets being omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent—all the attributes he would need in order to be the cause of our sinful thoughts and actions—but he isn’t any of those. Other folks insist that we can’t “hep” ourselves—that we sin because we’re sinners by nature. Wouldn’t that be convenient! To say that “all have sinned” is not to say “we have no choice but to sin.” Sin isn’t a virus you catch! The bad news is that we are without excuse. We alone are responsible for what’s bad in us…but that’s good! It means we can do something about it! It means we can conquer the bad in us that begs hiding.
Not sure Zoom is our “savior” in this time of crisis, as some say. Then again, it could be…if each Zoom screen reminds me that I can show myself to the world with far fewer dark boxes.