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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “The Times They are a Changeling”

There’s a new word trend in the USA in recent years: “(Insert-negative-word-here)mongering” (i.e. hatemongering, fearmongering, etc.). In politics it’s basically a cruder and more blunt way of performing the Appeal to Emotion logical fallacy. It’s trying to push forth a policy based on fear or hate toward something. Sometimes it’s applied correctly and sometimes it’s used as an excuse or misrepresented. I’m not going to use this devotional to pick on that, however, but rather to pick on the variant on the same practice that occurs in society, and in particular, once again, on the Internet.

This refers to the tendency to get people worked up over something by picking on a subject that can be hated or feared. While in it’s most basic form it’s just a variant on racism, stereotyping, and/or prejudice, I personally feel it’s a bit more of a special case or even its own thing. In the situation of more “pure prejudice”, there can ultimately be no justification for the fear and hate other than bias, misperception, or prejudgments. By comparison (and what makes it more potent) the latter situation usually involves at least one very real incident in which harboring a bit more fear and uneasiness about the subject at hand would have prevented a disaster. Just as a quick example, let’s consider the MMORPG “World of Warcraft”. Some people have become so addicted to it that they neglect their own lives and even, in some cases, the lives of their children to play it. If someone was to suggest that the game needed to be banned as a result of that, they would point to those instances even if they don’t represent everyone who plays the game. A bit simplistic and “light”, but it illustrates the point.

That’s the situation in today’s episode. Obviously, the Crystal Empire took a rather strong reaction to the presence of a potential Changeling…probably an overreaction. On hearing a report that there was a Changeling in the area, the entire Empire virtually went into lockdown, guards were hunting for Changelings in all corners, and even friends and family members of Shining Armor and Princess Cadance had to pass an identity test before they would be allowed anywhere near Flurry Heart. When the Changeling was actually spotted and everything degenerated into a witch hunt, even the rulers who instigated the situation began to wonder if they were taking things too far.

The problem, however, was that there had been a case in recent history in Equestria where not enough caution was used around Changelings. As a result, both Shining Armor and Princess Cadance were impacted, and all of Equestria ended up being put in jeopardy and nearly conquered by Queen Chrysalis. In addition, none of the residents of the Crystal Empire had ever encountered a “nice” Changeling before. So while everyone did go into a panic and, when the Changeling in question, Thorax, revealed himself they reacted unfairly with hostility and fear, it was unfortunately more justified and understandable in this situation. Even if they wanted to stomp or capture Thorax on sight, considering a rather bad past event, most others in Equestrian society would have thought nothing of it.

As a Christian, I think the ultimate thing that we preach that the world will not accept, will possibly reject, and (especially in many developing countries) will react to with violence and suppression is the saving message of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Sacrifice for salvation of the world. Yet as Jesus told us to be the “light of the world”, I’ve always believed that this wouldn’t be the only thing. After all, if the only difference between a Christian and an atheist is a Christian tells you to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior or spend eternity in Hell, then Christians aren’t much better (and possibly worse) than the other world religions we claim are false. To me, being a Christian also means outreaching to those in the world that have been rejected and made outcasts, to love the unlovable, and to stand up for those who no one else will stand for. That’s what Jesus did, and in His infamous parable about the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) He set out quite clearly what it means to care for one’s neighbor as well as expressed how great of a commandment that was.

Yet one of the greatest fallacies that Christians fall into that conforms them to the world rather than to God’s image is falling victim to societal bias based on fear and suspicion. Christians may fear and reject certain people from entering their communities, or favor or oppose certain national policies, or endorse certain practices that all are contrary to much of the Bible; but they do so anyway because they’ve moved away from considering the Word or the viewpoint of Jesus and moved toward thinking about things in worldly terms, including fears and biases.

I don’t want to dig too deeply into this to try and prevent snap judgments and reactions, so I’ll focus on just one example for now: the death penalty. This is a situation that not only are most Christians in favor of maintaining, but so many are in favor of it that a Christian being anti-death penalty is the exception rather than the rule (enough to where most pro-choice individuals justify themselves against pro-life individuals by pointing out they’re in favor of the death penalty, meaning they obviously “don’t think life is that sacred”…but getting off topic). There are religious arguments that can be made for it, but that’s not what I see people defer to. I see people pointing out the most heinous of offenders and venting their raw hate and disgust of them, saying how there’s no point to keep such despicable people alive on a taxpayer’s dollar. Some of them, they might point out, are not only clearly guilty but totally unrepentant, although even if they were (such as with the Son of Sam serial killer) no one would ever risk having them in society again. Sometimes they even bring up cases like with Ted Bundy, a serial killer who escaped police custody to kill others before he was captured again. And if they want to make a “Christian” argument, it’s that it would be better to protect innocent people by killing these offender than keeping them at risk by leaving them alive.

I can’t answer for everyone, but for me personally…even if I was to completely ignore Jesus’ defense of the woman caught in adultery (a capital offense) (John 8:2-11), the fact is our justice system is beyond biased. Just as one example, African-Americans who are found guilty of killing Caucasian-Americans are far more likely to get death penalty sentences than Caucasian-Americans found guilty of killing African-Americans. Furthermore, in one state alone in this country, Illinois, over a twenty year period 12 inmates were executed…while 20 on death row were exonerated in the same period. There were more people wrongfully waiting to die than people actually put to death. Even DNA tests are only as good as the agency that performs them, yet the magic word “DNA” automatically biases a jury into thinking someone is 100% guilty. It’s a tragedy whenever we hear of people who spent decades serving life sentences only to be cleared of all wrongdoing, but at least then they have a chance of regaining their lives. Not so with someone executed.

If I wanted to quote the Old Testament, which most consider to be nothing but God’s wrath and vengeance, even then it would be revealed that God would have spared Sodom if there had been only ten righteous people in it (Genesis 18:22-33). If God finds sparing ten people worth letting thousands endure in wickedness and depravity, I personally think that God would think for the sake of sparing the lives of  wrongfully sentenced individuals it’s worth tolerating keeping many genuinely wicked people alive.

Of course, this is only one example. Stances on pro-life and pro-choice, immigration, foreign policy, national charity, outreach to others, issues with the homeless…those are all things that I feel God’s Word says one thing and, due to fear or distrust, Christians flock to the “world view” because it’s safer and easier. It’s these points, as well as in witnessing, that we are challenged to go against what the world says is acceptable and even, in many cases, to risk their ire. Probably in these situations more than ever. After all, decisions made out of fear and distrust are usually based on a societal fear and distrust. To go against these likely means we’ll not only become an object of fear and distrust ourselves, but that people will misread our motives and level accusations against us, as people tend to do. From personal experience, I’ve had a moment in my life I was fearful to come out publicly with my stance on something because I knew my own close relatives would call me foolish and idealistic at best and a traitor at worse; even though neither were true and I knew they weren’t in my heart.

But ultimately, a serious question we all have to ask ourselves is whose interests we’re wishing to defend and who we want to look good in the sight of: the world or God.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you for your Word, the Bible, which gives man insight into who you are as well as direction for eternal life. Give me a love for it so that I can know the mind of God and what he wishes for this world and for others, and then help me to follow that in spite of what other powers in the world try to do to dissuade me or persuade me. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”