Friday, November 20, 2015

Living Between Realities

It is very difficult to talk with people whose sheltered life has left them with an insulated view of reality. Distance from the sight, sound and smell of horrific violence can produce an unrealistic worldview.

Years ago, when I was a police officer, I had several people try to kill me and I was forced to respond within the bounds of my training and the law in order to survive and return home to Jan each night. Before I was a police officer, I had lived the insulated man-boy life of girls, sports and my latest car project. When I became a police officer and began to see the horror of death first hand, something changed in me. The manifestation of evil took my breath away and left me stunned with the realization that my life would never be the same again – ever. My wall of insulation had been dismantled.

Some of the current social dialogue is being framed by good people who have never been threatened beyond a push and shove match in a schoolyard. In many ways, I am glad they still live in such innocence, but it is very naive. There is real evil in our world choosing to manifest itself in grossly dark ways.  The evil of terror is its ability to visit our sacred space of friends and family without notice. The impact of this kind of evil is not limited to the shedding of innocent blood at the crime scene, but the bondage of fear it uses to immobilize normal life in the larger culture.

Once, I was lectured by a young man who had boiled down his response to evil to the overly simplistic response of “Turn the other cheek.” I did not want to respond to him in a negative way, but simply made an observation. I said, “I notice you have two eyes and two hands.” The young man looked back at me in confusion and said, “Yes?” I told him the discourse of Jesus he was quoting about turning the other cheek is the same discourse where He said if your eye views something offensive to pluck it out and if your hand does something wrong cut it off. I observed, “I notice you have two eyes and two hands.” I went on to share that Jesus might have been saying something more to His disciples than just an instruction to roll over and let hell have its evil way. When Jesus was arrested, Peter drew his sword and cut off Malchus’ ear. Jesus told Peter to put his sword back into its sheath.  He didn’t tell Peter to get rid of his sword. A first read of anything, scripture included, it not always the most accurate.

Today, be careful about issuing an overly simplistic response to any side of the complex issues we are facing in our culture.  Be careful that you don’t reduce your interpretation of reality down to a single option.  Truth is many times manifest between conflicting realities.  These realities can provide valid arguments for their existence from each side of an issue. The space between these conflicting realities is where we need the wisdom of God to craft a wise response.  Ask for God's wisdom. He promises to give it liberally to those who ask.

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