The real tragedy of acts of terror is the battle of the mind that ensues among those least affected.
Those closest and to whom the most harm is caused, seem to work out the feelings of the act because it is placed squarely in their laps. They have no choice but to deal with it, and so, they do. Those further and further from the scene can wax philosophical and create scenarios of what could happen, and how they ‘should’ deal with it before it happens, and can even argue about why victims were ‘chosen’ by violators, etc., etc.
Because that is a luxury afforded to them. Playing the role of both victim and victor by way of safe distance. I fall into this category. Able to comment, draw attention, change my profile picture for a day, and feel good. Or do I feel good? It seems the proximity only brings about a conversation about better walls and cleaner filters. Not so much about perpetuating a peace that seeks to be absent of fear.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
There is a constant battle of wills. Call them the ‘Battle of Ben & Mal’ if you will. They are constantly at war, both within and without. We allow them room to move in every situation from expressing our thoughts about other drivers on the freeway to keeping our mouth shut when someone has a bad day and curses us at random. We take part in this battle as we internally decide whether to match blows or make an attempt to turn the tide in a moment.
Benevolence is literally ‘good will’. Malevolence alternately is ‘bad or evil will’. Not action, will. It is the thought and movement from within that fuels which force we shall extend into any given situation. We decide every day how we will speak and act based on the will that is present from within. From birth to the grave we wrestle with these two from within, and consequentially wrestle with interpreting the wills of others. The next step, beyond assumptions of the other and misguided motions on our part, is our attempt to change the will of the other. If we assume we are capable of changing another’s will, our benevolence easily becomes malevolence.
“…his good, pleasing and perfect will.” This is an internal struggle for each individual, as this will pulls us past simply deciding if what we want is good or bad. As I wrestle with this will I am confronted with a new reality; I cannot change the other, whether they want to harm me or save me. I can only be transformed by the renewing of my mind, and be at peace with what God does, and how the world responds around me. Four simple thoughts from Philippians 4:4-7 are reminders of how my will transformed effects my thinking regardless of the circumstance.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
Not words of anger. Not calls for fire from heaven. Not asking for the government to act on God’s behalf so I will not have to worry anymore. Rejoice…always. And note, the verses prior to this are discussing a dispute between two people in the church. Regardless of the size of adversity, the call is still the same.
“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”
Look back over your responses to others recently; whether it be hiding behind your profile on social media, or face to face with a neighbour. Somehow realizing your proximity to the King of Kings should have an impact on your evidenced gentleness. Even when we observe injustice or experience a strong push from the malevolent spirit within.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Take this verse out of its fancy frame on grandma’s wall for a moment, and maybe revisit why you quote it when you feel tense. It may speak to something more than just worrying about whether you get the right score on a test, or if you get the right toys at Christmas. “…anything…every situation…” That pretty much sums up your day. This is a response to the prior comments, because it underlies all reactions and responses in every moment. In all things, in every time, you are not to be anxious. How?
Prayer. Petition. Thanksgiving. It all comes before God. Not your blog, your status, a tweet, a vaguebook comment, and definitely not another internet battle of wits. Come before God lest you begin to think you speak for Him.
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
The Western mindset seems to favour the ancient Greek understanding of peace over the ancient Hebrew. That is unfortunate, because it shapes the will to favour malevolence, and a sense of security lodged deeply within a heart of distrust. The former sense of peace is based on two warring factions at rest, ready but not engaged. The latter is an ideal, literally the lion and the lamb at rest together, with no indication that one could potentially harm the other.
Hard to imagine? I suppose that is why it ‘transcends all understanding’. It seems it is a paradox so long as there is the existence of malevolence, and the potential to act out of this will. Somehow this peace guards our hearts and minds. Not our houses. Not our borders. Not our communities. The mind in Christ Jesus is guarded as part of the transformation. That is hard to imagine, but it is true, and it shapes our reality from the inside out.