It seems that some of the greatest truths are often the simplest ones as well. Scripture is full of simple truths that I believe we—collectively and individually—have taken apart and subsequently made very difficult to understand.
At this time of year we take time to reflect on one of the greatest/simplest truths: that God so loved the world that he gave it His only son and that in the midst of our culture we can still discover this very simple truth. Yes, He is often hidden behind the lights and all the pretty holiday wrapping—but still there nonetheless holding it all together. In John chapter one, verse 3 we read that: All things were made by him and without him was not any thing made that was made. And that pretty much says it, King James poetry language and all.
Of course the world would not be the world without all sorts of different beliefs and so on. And I think at this point how much better things would be—even with all these different world views—if we could somehow find the will to begin again with each other from a place of respect for life and human dignity.
As I see it we have no alternative but to begin again somehow—we can’t keep going down the same path that we have been traveling as a culture for the past several hundred years. And yet as simple as this statement seems, this is where thought and logic begin to get difficult to understand.
I am reminded of “The Mission”, a 1986 British film about the experiences of a Jesuit missionary in eighteenth century South America. I remember towards the end of the film, an attack on the mission by the local army and the two very different faith responses the main priests had. One faced the army, put up no defense and was killed quickly by rifle fire. The other priest grabbed a gun and went after some of the soldiers and was also later killed. Both did what they believed they were supposed to do and both were killed and as viewers we were left with the question as to who had made the “right” choice.
Which one trusted God the most and was the passive response more “faith driven” than the taking up of arms choice. I really don’t know and going down that road at this point is not for today. They both died for what they believed in.
In my mind right now I am wondering if violence will ever produce peace and logically is killing a Muslim’s son ever going to produce in that person a desire to talk about Jesus—or anything else for that matter—over a meal of rice and falafel. I know I am not doing this thought process justice and that there are many roads we could travel in discussing these types of questions.
I am not for the war in Iraq nor am I against it. I most certainly support our troops and mourn with those who have suffered loss because of the war. I am appalled by press reports of our government’s lack of support for these men and women and their families when they do come home wounded and/or emotionally scared. But that as well, is another story.
I guess you can begin to see that simple truths don’t often remain simple. Somehow in living everyday, we make them more obtuse and difficult to understand and wrap our heads around.
When Jesus was arrested in the garden, one of the disciples cut off a slave’s ear with his sword. I am reminded of Jesus’ reply: “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.”
Seems simple enough until we read the third chapter of Ecclesiastes.
In Ecclesiastes 3:1-12 we are told that:
There is an appointed time for everything.
And there is a time for every event under heaven–
A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.
And now I am sorely afraid that I have really gotten myself into a frying pan if not the very fire itself. Yet in reading this last passage we can surely say the writer was simply stating the obivous—not necessarily the good and pleasing and perfect will of God in the earth.
And now having said all that—I can say with confidence that we are not going to win the battle that surrounds us on every side by cutting off anybodies ear. A simple statement—a simple truth—on a very not-so-simple Christmas eve 2007.
May your day be blessed. And your ride a long one.