Thursday, November 20, 2008

Black & White People

Fairy tales fascinate children--the hero/es do battle against evil, usually a villain and save another person, the nation, the world, perhaps even the universe. Is there a certain amount of hero worship involved? No doubt, but I think children also love fairy tales because it matches their view of people--people are either black or white, good or evil. Children view everyone as either a good person or a bad person--there is very little tolerance for mistakes or sin. In their world good people don't do bad things and bad people don't do good things--you're either one or the other.

As we mature we come to see that good people make mistakes, sometimes mistakes that affect many people very dramatically, and that bad people can do some good things. We realize that good people have their faults or weaknesses and aren't perfect and that even the worst people usually have at least a few redeeming qualities. I know a few very bad people, but Jesus acknowledged that worldly people do some good--"do not even the Gentiles love those who love them?" There are very few people who are all black or all white--we all have at least a little gray.

Understanding this should help us be more compassionate with others. If I recognize that I need God to forgive me of my sins and shortcomings, I must also recognize that I must forgive others who wrong me. Jesus addressed this very point on more than one occasion. Why? Could it be that we have a problem with this?

Interestingly, the Bible does not portray even our heroes in this light. It records 2 occasions when Abraham repeated the same lie that Sarah was his sister: she was his half-sister, but she was also his wife. We are also told that Abraham laughed when promised a son at 99 years of age. David, the man after God's own heart, was not a very good father and was guilty of fornication and murder to cover that up. When I see their sins I have hope--if they could make it, so can I. How about you?


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