31. The Double-Edged Sword

“In time you may perhaps find
 that most of the work of the world
 is done by people who aren’t feeling very well.”
 — Le Baron Russell Briggs


“He’s got a gun!”

I gasped as the boy sitting next to me jumped up from his chair and lunged toward the door at the big guy who had just entered the room. Our high school class was meeting just as we did every Sunday morning, and I remember thinking that it was rather odd for Randy to be in attendance, and sitting next to me. He was a shy kid … kind of dorky – a sophomore, like me – and it was unusual for him or his older brother, nicknamed Topper, to join us.

It all happened so quickly: Randy tackled the intruder. They scuffled and shoved each other through the door and down the hallway. The rest of us sat there, dumbfounded, waiting for somebody to say something. One person, then another and another gave their take on what had just happened.

“What was that?”

“That was Topper.”

“Yeah, and Randy said he had a gun!”

About that time, the brothers reappeared and began handing out index cards and pens. “Write down what you saw,” Topper commanded. “Don’t talk to each other, just write.”

Later we learned that the whole thing was an experiment that Topper had thought up for a school project. The brothers never explained the incident any further. They just collected the cards as each person finished writing, then left the room. Needless to say, it was hard to keep our minds on the lesson after that!

Write down what you saw. Though we never knew how our answers compared, it’s pretty certain that everybody saw what happened a little differently. I guess that’s what the experiment was all about.

Thinking back, I find it interesting how each of us felt in response to the sudden assault. Some were simply stunned into silence, while others expressed anger and the sensation that they had been violated. But in spite of the interruption, we eventually returned to what we’d been doing beforehand, setting aside what had disturbed us and moving on to what would come next.

That incident impacted the way I perceive things. It became my story. And now that I’ve shared it with you, it’s become ours.

It’s a journey moment that introduces, what I call “truth illusions” – life experiences that we log into our mental database. We quickly analyze them, and randomly file each one under either Fact or Fiction. Then, as we need to draw a conclusion about something that interrupts our daily routine – like a domestic emergency or a judgment call on a social issue or the intrusion of politics during a Presidential election – we form opinions based on the information (or more typically, the sensations) that we’ve collected over time. In counseling circles it’s called “baggage.”

So what shall we do with this gold mine of insight? For me it provides a window into the minds of the men who were divinely instructed to write down the Word of God. They were innocently entrusted with “the sword of the Spirit”, which down through history has been ruthlessly wielded by powerful men as a weapon of war against their fellow, imperfect, sinful human beings.

Let’s lean through that window and fall headlong into the morass that’s called “history” – into some unsettling stuff that your average person on the street is unaware of. Some very messy moments that it seems most Bible scholars choose to ignore, primarily because it could tarnish their reputations … along with people’s perceptions of their seemingly pristine suits of armor.


“For the word of God is living and active.
Sharper than any double-edged sword,
it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit;
it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

(Hebrews 4:12)



Read Micah 7:1-7 and prepare your mind and heart to receive some inconvenient truths about historical Christianity.