By April Terry (http://faithwarming.blogspot.com)
I caught an interesting Ted talk today about the Psychology of Evil by Philip Zimbardo. As Mr. Zimbardo discussed some of his ideas, I was applying some of them to myself and realizing just how very easy it is to slip into doing something that is wrong. You can find that here. (Be aware that it has some graphic images in it)
We Christians like to talk a lot about good and evil as if a person must be either one or the other. I remember as a little girl asking my dad how someone I knew to be good could do something so bad. His response was very wise when he said, “No one is totally good or totally bad.” That answer was simple enough for a little girl, but I never learned how precarious doing the right thing could be until I grew up and became an adult. It was then that the complexities of life started to intrude on my good vs. evil mindset and I started to learn that there were a lot of gray areas.
It’s because people live in the gray areas of life that it’s important to remember that you and I are just a decision away from doing the wrong thing. We can easily be led into anything that takes us down a path that we shouldn’t go down. That’s precisely the reason why it’s so important for us not to judge others.
I saw an interesting segment one day of “Locked Up” about a maximum security prisoner. He regularly was able to slip his cuffs and he was diabolically smart. I was fascinated by him because I wondered how a person could be so smart and yet choose to give himself over to evil so completely. Yet, I wonder if you went back into his history, if you would find a series of situations that led him to his eventual path. Even as evil as this man admitted to being, there was an honesty in him that I found interesting. There was a code of respect that he lived by in his cell there on death row.
A lot of people outside our faith don’t think about the fact that we all have evil inside us. One of the challenges of Christian evangelism is dealing with the “sin” issue in discussions because our faith presupposes that we were born with it. We Christians desire ours be “washed” away, although we often then point at the dirt in others’ lives, but non-Christians don’t want to acknowledge its existence in their own lives or that it is something that needs washing away. That’s why telling the story of Jesus is sometimes the hardest with those decent, law-abiding, non-believing citizens who are analytical in nature. Maybe that’s why Jesus used light and darkness in his language such as saying “I am the light of the world…” (John 8:12). Nobody desires to be in total darkness and if God is the light, then most of us want to stay close to it.
I think that when we are sharing our story of faith, we are best served by learning how to communicate with others about the gray areas of life. The areas where we live in the light, but sometimes still choose to walk in darkness. We all walk in these ambiguous areas. We all have moments of dishonesty, deception, and hypocrisy. We wander from the light into the shadows at any given moment. Sometimes, we find ourselves running blindly into the dark without realizing it. We may believe that we are living fully in the light, but we’re only a step away from the shadows. That basic understanding is what we have in common with every other human being on earth, regardless of their religious affiliation, and it is the common ground on which our dialogue about faith can begin.
June 17th, 2013 · 1 Comment
Categories: DE Thoughts