The Emperor Has No Clothes
In the old testament book of Proverbs, there are a couple verses in chapter 27 that can easily be glossed over but that carry such great value when you stop and think about them. Check out verses 5 & 6, in the New Living Translation. They say, "It’s better to be corrected openly if it stems from hidden love. You can trust a friend who wounds you with his honesty, but your enemy’s pretended flattery comes from insincerity."
Sometimes in our lives, the pain of being corrected can be overwhelming, especially if our experience of being corrected has involved its application without love. Naturally, we tend to resist correction and allow the memory of that pain to blind us and prevent us from seeking out truth. Or perhaps the shame inflicted on us if we attempt to swim against the tide of popular belief stands as that barrier.
This reminds me of the Hans Christian Anderson story, The Emperor's New Clothes. The story follows an emperor who loved wearing fine clothes and spent all of his people's money on them. He had a different set for each hour and was, without doubt, the finest dressed man in the land.
One day, two swindlers claiming to be fine weavers entered the Emperor's city and proclaimed they were capable of making the finest, lightest, most magnificent cloth the world has ever seen. So extraordinary was this cloth, it was actually invisible to anyone who was either incompetent or stupid. Hearing of the weaver's amazing "talent", the foolish Emperor thought he could use such cloth to weed out all the undesirables in his city. So he paid the swindlers an enormous sum & they set out to create his new clothes. The Emperor sent several advisors to gauge their progress and all the advisors reported the cloth magnificent, not wanting to appear stupid for seeing nothing at all! Finally, after the swindlers had counted the gold and jewels they had received from the emperor, they announced that the clothes were "finished". A procession was quickly arranged to show off the Emperor's new clothes and the entire city gathered to see them. Having been dressed by the swindlers, who remarked how wonderful he looked and how light the cloth appeared on him, he appeared before his people. The people, having heard of the weaver's abilities and the cloth's fictitious properties, were amazed and offered thunderous applause to the now beaming Emperor. None of them were willing to admit that they hadn't seen a thing; for if anyone did, then he was either stupid or unfit for the job he held. Never before had the emperor's clothes been such a success. While expressing admiration at their Emperor's new "invisible" clothes, a small, brave, little boy cried out... "But the Emperor has no clothes!"
Much like the emperor in the story, we need to have great discernment, knowing from whom we seek advice. A friend will tell us the truth even when it hurts. An enemy will continually build us up as we head in the wrong direction.
Over the past couple of weeks, our nation has endured yet another death of an unarmed man while under arrest by a police officer. Tragic! As followers of Jesus, our hearts should break anytime anyone is injured or killed, period. Our hope should be that this man truly knew God through Jesus Christ.
Regarding this tragic event, on the surface and without any other facts of the incident, this tragedy might otherwise have gone unnoticed by the nation's population. However, what has incited rage-filled, violent protests and killed even more people is the revelation of the ethnicity of both the dead man and the officer. The man who was killed, George Floyd, was black. The police officer, Derek Chauvin, is white. This is exacerbated by the showing of an eyewitness video of the last nearly 10 minutes before Mr. Floyd became unconscious. Truly, this is tragic and requires us to exercise restraint, Godly wisdom, and grace like not too many times in our past.
Unfortunately, because of the facts above, and nothing more, our nation has fallen into an even deeper divide with exaggerated claims of "systemic racism" and runaway police brutality. Yes, racism exists and will, unfortunately, always exist in one form or another. But we should ask ourselves the old question: "What would Jesus do?"
As christians, we must pray and seek God's face and allow Him to be our defender. The challenge is to not jump on the popular bandwagon of the loudest voices and to not be shamed into silence. Let's search out the matter and get the facts. Like the boy in The Emperor's New Clothes, let's be willing to speak truth to power and rise above the bumper sticker rhetoric.
Only God can heal our land.
2 Chronicles 7:14 tells us our steps; "Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land."