Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wolf, Lamb, & A Dream

The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play near the hole of the cobra,
and the young child will put his hand in the viper's nest.
They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6-9)

I don't know about you, but I read such a passage and I think,

"Dream on!"

"Don't you know what kind of world we live in?!"

Political candidates and parties rip each other apart.

Talk radio & television spinsters make their living attacking "the other side".

Schools are divided by issues of the day.

Nearly everyone agrees there are wolves "out there" and lambs "in here".

Churches aren't protected, are we? Some pastors and churches can be most divisive.

Sometimes as I watch my children go to various places, I feel like I am allowing them to put their hand in the viper's nest. I know the movies other people watch. I know the games they are being sold and that they put on their systems. I wonder if we're being brave or stupid to let the kids live around such influences.

The wolf may one day live with the lamb...but we're not their yet.

It makes you wonder, "Will truth ever win out?" Will the earth really be full of the knowledge of the LORD anytime soon?

My mind races to a seminary class I was taking. The professor was adamant that we learn to engage the culture. He insisted we listen to voices of people not in the church. His order was, "Stop assuming you KNOW what people think. Get out there and talk WITH them. Not talk AT them."

The professor did two things:

1. He assigned us the task of interviewing people we knew who did NOT go to church. Our job was NOT to change their minds. We were NOT allowed to argue or shout them down. We were given one task, initially...to listen.

I still remember that assignment. I still live in the town where I interviewed those kind, willing people. They shared with me why they didn't go to church. Some shared why they didn't believe in God. To this day, I count some of those people as my friends. The dialogue continues.

2. Secondly, the professor also brought in people to class who practiced religions different from ours. We were free to ask them questions. But, much like the individual assignment, were unable to attack, argue, cajole, or critique. They were our guests. They were promised a "safe place" to share with us.

I still remember one student who couldn't take it. He had heard enough. And at one point he started to launch into one of the speakers. Our professor quickly stepped in, like an emergency worker pulling an infant from a fire.

"Enough! I promised our guests they would NOT be attacked. You can be silent or you can leave!"

He was showing us that if we were going to "win the world", there are times we must lay aside our aggressive tendencies. We must be go out of our way to be perceived more as "lamb" and less "wolf".

That professor, Dr. Al Truesdale, would often quote Isaiah 6:9b: for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. Dream on, Dr. Truesdale. Dream on, Isaiah.

I will.

Grace & peace

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