An eye for an eye makes us all blind.
I can remember it like it was yesterday. I had wanted it for so long. The T.V ads had completely captured me, this had to be the finest product ever made by man, and my birthday was coming. I implored every saint I could name, and a few that I made up just so that I would impress God, in hopes that heaven might sway my parents into buying me the greatest toy ever invented…the Evil Knievel wind up stunt cycle with the Evil Knievel action figure actually riding his red white and blue motorcycle!
You wound it up…hit the release button, and the imitation burst into life just like the real, and would jump creeks, curbs and small cats! My fingers flexed in anticipation as I slowly began to open the package on the day. First one corner, then the next…with breath held tightly I removed the entire lot of paper, and saints be praised, there was Evil atop his motorcycle in all his daredevil splendor!
I took that thing everywhere…in fact…I took it to too many places. One day it came to school with me, and by the end of the day I would be faced with a theological issue that was soul deep…vengeance.
At recess you could find me and Evil next to the tether ball pole amazing the onlookers with various stunts and jumps…and then it happened…someone grabbed Evil, and broke it. My heart was crushed, my eyes teared up, and then I was transformed, but not in a good way.
It amazes me how quickly the human heart can move from joy to retribution. Evil was broken, and somebody had to pay! Perhaps this is what Darwin was aiming at when he was postulating the "Survival of the Fittest." That we humans have a way of protecting what is ours at all costs, even if that means inflicting pain on another.
In truth, this is base level behavior yes? This is living "an eye for an eye" and "if you hit me I hit you" kind of life. This is how animals live…and humans who have been hurt.
You don’t have to practice it…you don’t need a class in it…there is no DVD curriculum to help you master it, no, we all have a natural tendency to be judge and jury, to meet out justice…to return evil for evil.
Even as we grow, mature, and begin to live above a base-level existence, we have countless opportunities to practice the transforming act of moving beyond an eye for an eye life. I like what Gandhi said, "an eye for an eye makes us all blind." Powerful…True…Profound.
The lifestyle of an eye for an eye not only makes us all blind physically, but spiritually as well. You see, this kind of blindness is a blindness to everything and everyone else, yet complete sight for self. This blindness has an uncanny ability to have 20/20 vision when it comes to seeing what it desires, wants, covets, or thinks is important, which is generally something that feeds the self, ego, or pride…and that is the most blinding combination in the world.
This blindness breaks up marriages, families, and relationships because there are no eyes looking into the heart and soul of the other…instead the gaze is to the mistakes, blunders, and areas of un-beauty. These things are magnified, and the spiritual eye shrivels into oblivion. This blindness is never empathetic, sympathetic, nor grace filled…but instead it demands its own rights, blind to the rights of the other.
This is really the mantra of our culture and society, and the mantra is embedded deeply into the fabric even of the church…sons and daughters of the king walking around in self-blindness, angry at another blind wanderer for bumping into them and disturbing their darkness which they believe to be light.
Self deception is a trademark of this blindness, but self deception is a sly enemy. You are never really sure if he has you, and when you figure it out, there is generally a trail of brokenness. Men and women wonder why life isn’t working…why they struggle even though they go to church…why all these people are causing them so much pain and frustration…all the while never seeing.
The beauty of Christ is that He longs to warm his hands in slow circular motions, then with love, mercy, and grace, place them over our myopic state, and invite us to experience sight.
They way to see is really not that perplexing. It is to take the words of the master and do with them something more than believe them…to live them out even when someone has broken your Evil Knievel Stunt jumper.
God’s truth is that every relationship can be healed, resurrected, restored and given new sight, but the hard work is in laying aside our old nature of vengeance and self-vision, and ask Christ to infuse us with His holy sight that sees others as He does, even when they wrong or hurt us. Isn’t that the miracle of salvation? That even when we were still stuck in the blindness of our sinful life, Jesus died for us…even though we treated Him with the opposite of love.
You should be screaming, "I can’t do that!" You are right, you can’t. But since you have the creative force of the universe dwelling inside of you, you have the ability to choose to let Him empower you to do the impossible…live a life of grace and truth.
When we demand our rights above all else, we miss the whole gospel, and we miss the keys to the abundant life, they are found in giving up our rights even as Christ did (Phil 2) and choosing commitment over convenience or perhaps human justice.
God has your back, He will deal with those who wrong you. The example of Christ is to live above the natural human tendency to blind each other. What relationship are you demanding your rights in without also sacrificially giving your life too? Perhaps this is the time to mirror Christ in that relationship, allowing His kindness and grace to bring about repentance, restoration, and resurrection.
As the recess bell rang I had an option, blind my friend, thus blinding myself, or grieving my loss,and talk to my friend in such a way that we remained friends even though I was angry, hurt, and experiencing loss. Now when you are 8 years old, these are not the exact thoughts that roll through your mind, as your thinking is not yet so refined, but the thought patters are similar…I chose the friend over the toy.
Amazingly, the things we want are always much shorter lived than the relationship that risks mutual blinding…God calls us to choose the relationship over the injustice, the heart over the heart-ache…in this we find life and sight.