Sometimes when I'm preaching, an unplanned illustration comes to mind and I go with it. These are often some of the most helpful thoughts for my own thinking, and I think for those listening as well.
Last Sunday I let loose with one of those illustrations. I was talking about perspective, how the way we perceive things dictates how we respond to them. The idea of clubbing seals (that doesn't mean they are partying) seemed to show this pretty clearly. Here are some of my thoughts based on this short, off-the-cuff illustration.
When we think of what it means for people to club baby seals for their fur, we often respond with great compassion for the seals and anger for those with the club. Our response: "This is just wrong." And I've recently learned that in some places they give out "hunting" licenses so people can experience killing a seal with a blunt object. This rips my heart out.
But if we change perspectives (I've also written on this idea here and here) and take a moment to think before we respond emotionally, we just might find out that some people who are killing seals are doing it because that's the only way they know of to make a living and provide for their families. Maybe there are really some people who are just doing the only thing they know to do to keep on living in this world.
When we see seal clubbing from that perspective, we remember that life is hard for all of us. We are all trying to put food on the table. These guys are just like us. Suddenly we see the world from their perspective and our compassion is fuller, more complete. If we only work for justice with seals, we will miss working for justice for people who only know the life of the club.
I admit, solutions aren't easy. But responding only to our first emotion will often just create more problems. The situation is almost always deeper and more difficult than that.
Jesus' solution was to get in the middle of the problem (incarnation) and become the Solution. Maybe when we start to think like Jesus, we will truly see how He could die for our sins and put Himself in our place when we are the ones holding the clubs. And then we will see a world full of club wielding people in a different, more compassionate way.