I started reading the book Escape by Carolyn Jessop. (I know, I know...I still haven't finished Mansfield Park. I got totally bogged down in the "should we allow this play, father would/wouldn't approve of this play..." section. Boring... I will finish it though.) It tells of her escape from the polygamist cult FLDS. It is particularly interesting to me in light of the 400 children who were recently removed from a FLDS sect here in Texas. It is constantly in the news. Anyway, she said something in the acknowledgments section that really sticks out to me. (Yes, I'm a dork. I even read dedications and introductions to books!) Anyway, one of the groups of people she acknowledges is the people who made it possible for her children to have Christmas the four years since she left FLDS. She says,
"The FLDS is constructed on a scaffolding of lies. We were all brainwashed into believing that everyone in the outside world was evil. Every Christmas, when I see the delight in my children as they unwrap presents from people they never met, I realize what a monstrous lie we were taught to believe."
Later, as she is describing the night she left, she talks about how she couldn't tell her children that they were actually leaving. They were so frightened. Once they figured it out, one of her daughters actually said she was taking them to hell.
Although I realize that this is an extreme situation in which these children were completely brainwashed, I see a warning here too. Am I making statements in which I am teaching my children to fear the world and all of the people who do not believe as I do? Or am I teaching them by example how to be in the world but not of it? Fear cannot be the answer. I know that fear is not from God, rather he is perfect love, and perfect love casts out fear. (I John 4:18) The Bible also has so much to say about being in this world. There is lots to say about not being drawn in by the world and not becoming like the world, but remaining pure and holy in the midst of the world. James 1:27 actually says not to become polluted by the world. I really like that wording. Even though we have to guard our hearts and minds and be responsible with our children, we still don't have to fear the world. The Bible also says that though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. (2 Cor. 10:3) The biggest reason I don't have to fear is that God is mighty! He goes before me and fights the battle for me, giving me the victory! (Deut. 20:4) It reminds me of one of my all time favorite verses, "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." I John 4:4 I so badly wanted to end that verse with an exclamation point!!
I don't know if this will speak to anyone else the way it is speaking to me, but with all the yucky stuff I have heard lately, I needed to think on these things. I cannot fear. I cannot withdraw and teach my children (even if by default) that everyone in our world is evil and to be feared. Afterall, God loved this fallen world so much that he gave his own son to save it - which is far more than I would have done.