Driving home yesterday, I passed for about the third time this week the remains of some now unrecognizable creature on the highway. I am one of those softhearted people who grieves for every squirrel and feels guilty that we’ve invaded their natural habitat with asphalt and vehicles. Anyway, I found myself thinking, “Oh I wish someone would clean that up so that I don’t have to see it.” The thought struck me as hypocritical. After all, if I’m going to feel guilty about something, I should be able to face it, to take some responsibility for it. If I’m being honest, I expend a lot of effort NOT thinking too hard about things like that, because I’m not actually willing to stop driving, or to lay down in front of a bulldozer to protest construction. But I do feel strongly that not knowing how to fix something doesn’t mean we should just push it somewhere off-radar and forget about it.
I realize my example might seem a little ridiculous to some of you, but it did bring this issue into focus for me. Facing the things in this world that are uncomfortable, ugly or evil is a necessary part of living. I can try to hide from my awareness of them, but deep down I know when I should be acting on that awareness. I can pass a homeless man on the street and try to forget about it, but if I truly feel the urge to help in some way, the only way to have peace is to go ahead and do it. I am NOT saying that we shouldn’t be careful, realistic and think and pray about the best way to help or act. Scripture gives us 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21:
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good.
And finally, a few verses from Revelation. These were hard for me to post here, and hard for me even to read with objectivity. For whatever reason, I shy away from black and white. But even that speaks to my point. (Good grief, I’m fighting it even now… trying to make excuses for all of those condemned people mentioned below…maybe because I’m not sure I can truly separate myself from them…)
Revelation 21: 7-8: The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.