I recently chaperoned a field trip with my daughter’s second grade class to the Henry Ford Museum. I had four of the kids with me and they were absolutely great. Kids ask a lot of unexpected questions that help you see things in a different light. Kids are good for that. And at one point we were in the civil rights section of the museum, which is now my favorite exhibit. It is way excellent. If you haven’t seen it, you should. Anyway. As we were making our way through, we came across a mannequin with a full Ku Klux Klan outfit on. It was in a large glass booth – the pointed hood, the robe – creepily staring out at us, and one of the kids asked, “What’s that?”
I responded without thinking. It was automatic. I said, “That’s a coward, kids. That’s what a coward wears who wants to do really mean things to people, but he’s too much of a coward to let them know who he is. He hides behind that mask and outfit.”
The kids just nodded, totally getting it. I didn’t have to explain any further.
This got me to thinking about cowards, about how they like to hide behind things. They hide behind flags. They hide behind laws. They hide behind women and children. They hide behind lies and they even hide behind the smiles on their own faces while they twist the knife.
Most dictionaries will tell you that a coward is a person who is afraid to die or afraid of pain. Don’t you believe it. That is a horrible definition. It is a massive over simplification. That’s not being a coward at all. That’s being normal. The desire for life is built into us. Even Jesus didn’t want to die. He didn’t want the pain of the cross. Why? Because, even though he was fully God, he was still fully human. But he was no coward.
A coward is different than that. A coward is a person who lets fear or a lack of character drive them to do something immoral or unkind or ungodly. They lack the courage to do what's right. A coward hides his true intentions. A coward manipulates others. A coward puts you down behind your back. A coward is afraid to do the right thing when it’s not convenient. A coward won’t recognize his or her own children. A coward is afraid to believe the truth because it doesn’t do for them what they want it to do. A coward is brave about all the wrong things. A coward won’t carry a cross, even if it means saving the whole world.
Here’s something I know: I don’t want to be a coward.
When my grandmother died, the funeral was held in Tennessee. We went down for the funeral and while I was at the funeral home I was looking at the flower arrangements. I found that one of the arrangements was sent by the KKK. Why? I have no idea. Family connections? Who knows. What I do know is that my grandmother loathed the Klan. She knew they were evil. She had told me so herself. She didn’t have a bigoted bone in her body. So, in outrage, I told the funeral director to remove the flowers and throw them away. I was astounded that they would put them there in the first place. They had dishonored her with their misguided attempt at civility. It was madness to me that flowers from cowards would adorn the casket of one of the most brave, kind, Christ-like people I had ever met. She had just faced cancer and lost. She had been afraid, but she was no coward.
I’m just saying. For those who hide behind masks to do their evil – for those who abuse and neglect, manipulate, hurt or slander others while hiding behind a smile or a cause or a Bible – be aware: in the book of Revelation, the “cowardly” are listed among those who will be thrown into the Lake of Fire.
Peace to you?
© LW Publishing 2010