Monday, July 18, 2016
“The only real prison is fear, and the only real freedom is freedom from fear.”
This weekend I viewed a video clip of an intense moment between police officers and a young man they viewed as a suspect. There was a lot that disturbed me as I watched. There was one thing that stood out above the rest. It was the fear. The officers seemed to be acting fearfully and that is understandable when they face such danger on a regular basis. The young man reacted fearfully and that is understandable when he was approached in what appeared to be an aggressive manner. Fear ruled. It called the shots. It escalated the moment. It made matters worse.
Fear, in my opinion, has become our common enemy no matter where we stand politically, racially, nationally or religiously. Fear is, I am sorry to say, also our common denominator. It is what we have in common and it is also the division disturbance.
There seems to be more to divide us than ever in this time of social media and information overload. I was thinking just the other day how very few people I agree with across the board. What I mean is if I have a friend that I agree with when it comes to child rearing we may be divided when it comes to politics. If I have a family member that I agree with politically we may differ when it comes to matters of faith. If I agree with a fellow church member concerning matters of faith we may differ when it comes to racism. I could go on for pages and pages. You get the idea.
It bothers me when I don’t agree with people I care about. I waver between feeling that if I explained my position carefully enough they would surely agree with me and resisting feeling offended and condescended by those who seem determined to convince me of why my position is obviously wrong.
For a long time there have been some major divisions in this country (and many others) that most are fully aware of. One is racism, another is gender, the other is poverty. We have come a long way in addressing these divisions. I’m not saying we have arrived, but we have made progress.
Now, it seems every day there are new ways to divide us, to sort us, to categorize us, to put each other in a box and label each other accordingly. See her, she believes differently than me so she must go in that box over there. Mark it ignorant. No, that’s too harsh, let’s mark it under-educated. That way we can feel pity for them as we disagree with them and we will not only know better, we will be above such things as labeling others.
There is likely no greater division among the American people right now than that of politics. It’s a whopper. Families, friends, churches are seeing things vastly differently and everyone has an opinion. Thanks to social media, everyone has a megaphone handy to voice that opinion. Whether done in a gentile manner with fancy words that really only emphasize how stupid you believe the people who disagree with you are, or blurted out in crash and rude words that really only emphasize how much you disdain anyone with an opinion different than your own, everyone can speak their mind.
This morning I was reading in the Bible and came across the verse below. Jesus was teaching, preaching and yes, dividing. We don’t like to think about that aspect of His teaching. The fact is, He spoke truth and people did not want to hear it.
“So the crowd was divided about him.”John 7:43 NLT
“Thus the people were divided because of Jesus.” John 7:43 NIV
So, here is what I want to say to you and to myself today. If you are struggling with division disturbance, don’t be discouraged, you are not alone. Resist the urge to label other people. Avoid the temptation to convince everyone to agree with you. Refuse to be labeled or label others. Admit that we are never going to all ‘just get along’ and try hard to respect other people’s opinions and their right to have them.
Above all, abandon the fear that would have the hearts of us all. Uproot the fear of those who are different. Believe what you believe and stay true to your convictions, but don’t allow fear to rule your life. Fear, when it is planted in soil that is ripe for growth, springs up eagerly to bloom division and result in hate.
That, my friend is a division disturbance.