“There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, …” I John 4:18
On Saturday, a businessman from United Arab Emirates (UAE), dressed head-to-toe in traditional Arabian clothes, was mistaken for a terrorist. He was handcuffed at gunpoint and accused of belonging to ISIS. He was here, in the United States, for medical treatment, but he was treated as an enemy. A false report turned into an international incident.
What led to such a response? Lack of cultural education? Assumptions based upon lack of understanding? Fear? We learn in 1 John that “There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear.”
Could love be an appropriate response to the fear that leads to violence in our culture?
When I heard the story of the businessman from UAE, I thought of a story I first read as it was written my John Claypool. The story is as follows:
One night during the Middle Ages, two warriors in full armor were riding along, each thinking there was no one else for miles around. They happened upon each other at a particularly dark spot. Both were startled and each misinterpreted the movements of the other as gestures of hostility. So they began to fight, each believing he was under attack and must defend himself. The conflict grew more intense until one knight finally succeeded in unhorsing the other. Then, with one mighty effort, he drove his lance through the fallen man’s heart. The victor dismounted and limped over to the adversary he had just killed. He pulled back the facemask, and there to his horror, in the pale moonlight, he recognized his own brother. He had mistaken a kinsman for an enemy and had destroyed him.1
How do we reverse the processes in place that lead us to such human tragedy? Instead of seeing others as enemies and moving to destroy them, what do we do to see each other as relatives, as human beings?
Can love lead us to the place that we see one another as gifts from God rather than enemies?
Ralph Sockman said that we actually have been given three mechanisms of perception. First there are the eyes of the body. The organs through which we perceive the shapes and outer surfaces of realities. With our eyes we see form and color and outward characteristics.
In addition to the eyes of the body, we have been equipped with the eyes of the mind. This capacity organizes all the data that flows in and through our senses into patterns of meaning and understanding. The eyes of the mind link past and present experience. We posses insight, something very different from visual ability. We can make a connection; we can put the pieces of life together into configurations of meaning.
Sockman also identified what he called the eyes of the heart. The eyes of the body relate to what a particular object is. The eyes of the mind relate to how a bit of information fits together with everything else we know. But the eyes of the heart search for the ”why” of existence. If the “why” is not clear, then what we see on the surface is distorted and what we perceive as patterns of meaning and understanding are disjointed.
With the eyes of the heart, we begin to see that “everything that is, is because of God.” The only reason anything exists is the fact that God wanted it to be and has given it life. All creation flows and grows from God. To see one another as God’s creation we will begin to move beyond concepts and legalism. When that is accomplished, all kinds of changes will take place. The process that led to the tragedy of the two knights can be reversed.
The misconceptions that led to a false report of a terrorist in traditional dress will be transformed into the gift of human life that God intended in creating human beings.
While we perceive one another as enemies, destruction follows. When we live at the deepest level of which we are capable where we utilize not only the eyes of the body and the mind, but the eyes of the heart, we will perceive one another as sisters and brothers, as relatives. There will be no more distortion or disconnection and all danger of violence can be avoided. The way we see others does make a difference in our behavior.2
With the eyes of the heart, we begin to see with the love God has given us in Jesus Christ. And in Christ, “perfect love casts out fear.”
– Tim Bias
- John Claypool, Opening Blind Eyes, page 103.
- Ibid, page 105.