Friday, September 3, 2010

Criminal on the loose

Asherel and I had to crouch down to keep the helicopter from giving us an inadvertent haircut. We were on our daily walk with the dogs. Something was up.

When we returned home, there was a message on the answering machine from the police. An armed robbery had occurred not far from us and the suspect had escaped into a forest that ultimately ends at our neighborhood.
"Stay inside," warned the box on the counter.
I locked the doors, and envisioned what it must be like to be a criminal on the run in a forest with dogs and helicopters in hot pursuit.

For some reason, while I have never had any desire to be a criminal, I have occasionally plotted out what I would do if I were being pursued by dogs and helicopters. A forest would be a good place to hide, and would be choice number one. Helicopters would be unlikely to spot me through the foliage, and dogs might be confused by the variety of scents. I think I would climb a tree and find a large knot in the trunk and crawl in. Of course, then I would be in danger from the nasty raccoon curled up in the hole so I would be sure before robbing a house that I was current on my rabies vaccination. Although....if the hole were filled with copperheads, there is no venom vaccine, so I would likely die twice. Once from the poison and once from the total ick factor of a swarm of copperheads underfoot.

It just seems easier to pursue an honest life.

And while the criminal mind seems so alien to me, I think all of us have the potential to be criminals. In a sense, we all are. I have always been struck by the verse in the Bible where Jesus reminds us that if we have ever called our brethren "fool", we have committed sin equal to murder and without His mercy and forgiveness, are in danger of Hell. If that is the criteria for being tossed into the Lake of Fire, it is pretty clear most of us better be packing marshmallows and hotdogs for the eternal roast awaiting us....

But I know that by the redemptive act of Jesus' death, and my acceptance of that gift, I am not condemned, even though I deserve to be. And that should produce something in me that allows me to think of the criminal hiding in the forest with compassion and prayer. We would all be hiding in the forest, fruitlessly, if it were not for Jesus.

At the end of the day, the phone rang, and my answering machine assured me that the "situation has been resolved. You can unlock your doors, breathe a sigh of relief, and come out of your hidey holes." (Or something to that effect.)
Which we did.... but not because a criminal was caught. But because we all are caught, and redeemed if we choose to be.

Matthew 5:21-23 (New International Version)

21"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca, is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.

1 John 3:14-16 (New International Version)

14We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.

16This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

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