Thursday, June 01, 2006
Confusion and the Devil
It's been said, albeit by people who think they know me a lot better than they do, that I'm afraid of confrontation. I've recently realized that it isn't confrontation I shy away from, it's the damage I do to another person during that confrontation. Confrontation is promoting your version of the truth above another's version of the truth. Of course, there is one Truth and you shouldn't bother confronting if you aren't certain yours is it.
Incidentally and in the form of an aside, the culture of our little church is saturated with incorrect ideas about confrontation and the "biblical" way in which it is to be carried out. If you are offended, confront!. There doesn't seem to be an accepted way of resolving hurt feelings and conflict other than to confront! with impunity and with haste. This reminds me of the creatures in Swift's Gulliver's Travels who carry inflated bladders tied to the ends of twigs. They bop each other on the head every time one of them does something offensive. We've got Confrontation Bladders at Red Mountain Church. "You misspoke!" BOP! "You hurt my feelings!" BOP! The glaring and magnificent error in this way of thinking is that if we decide that Confrontation! is our only way of oiling our relational waters, we miss out on the gifts of time and space and patience, long-suffering and grace.
To confront someone properly, you have to say something like "I'm going to speak frankly, and frankly, that's going to be painful for you." To confront is necessarily to inflict pain. I know what my ideas are. I'm not afraid to express them. But I certainly should wield them carefully when I realize what mighty weapons they really are. If I or someone else doesn't want to talk, you probably shouldn't try to force us. It's a goad that can only work you woe. Be glad I keep my opinions to myself. They can be painful opinions!
Now, back to the issue at hand.
Lately, I've been able to feel the Devil prowling around looking for someone to devour. To me, Evil feels like personified entropy. You know Evil is there when you feel your very thoughts starting to convolute and break apart. The simple truth of what was said during a discussion becomes blurry and nebulous. You start to feel like Charlie and Grandpa Joe when they drank Fizzy Lifting Drinks and couldn't control their careen toward the ceiling fan. Have you felt this way? If you have, you've probably been in close proximity to Evil.
In fact, this was the context of Original Sin. "Did God really say not to eat this fruit?" This was the Serpent's first foray into the realm of subtle seduction. It's interesting that he didn't try and force the fruit upon Eve or brazenly coerce her. He made her question her own mind and her own sense of what was true.
Obviously, it was a tactic that didn't fail him. In fact, it worked so well that he uses it today.
"Are you sure God didn't tell you not to have sex before you marry this great boyfriend He gave you? Show me the exegesis of that."
"Are you sure the Bible is the inspired Word? How is that even possible?"
"Are you sure you're being arrogant? Surely you're just confident."
At this moment, I'm seeing some of the "greatest minds of our time" fall victim to the subtle and sinister advances of Evil as it moves forward to conquer the field of Truth. It's a frightening thing. I see the lies wrap around even the biblical scholars like oily rags and I see them choke. I see them start to believe the lie and I see them exchange it for the truth.
It's hard to hold on to truth. It's critical to hold on to truth. It is the truth that sets us free from the snares of Evil. Truth about God, truth about ourselves, and truth about others. Even beyond that, it's truth about the small things in our lives. We must examine ourselves for signs of fallacious thoughts, words, or deeds. We must be able to stand confidently before our image in the mirror at night and say "This, I know for certain." We must mean it and we must never let it go.