Pastor Olsen

From the Desk of Pastor Olsen

September 2014

You all know, of course, that Jim Foley was the American journalist kidnapped and brutally killed while reporting on the tragic events taking place in Syria. Foley was no stranger to danger. Before working full time as a journalist, he served his country through the Teach for America program by teaching underprivileged children living in some of our most dangerous neighborhoods. His reporting career took him to some of the world's most dangerous spots. While covering events in Libya in 2011, Foley was imprisoned for over a month by forces loyal to Moammar Khadafy. So he fully understood the risks he was taking when he accepted the assignment to report on the Syrian civil war.

Why would anyone in his right mind take such risks? Friends describe Foley as a "risk taker," a man who thrived in difficult and dangerous environments. That may be so, but I suspect that there was something deeper going on. I am convinced Foley believed that there are some things bigger than ourselves; some things worthy of suffering and even death. Truth is one of those things. Jim Foley felt it was important for the world to know the truth about the terrible things happing to families, men, women and children in Syria. For the sake of making that truth known, he was willing to die.

Speaking the truth has always been a hazardous undertaking. Though we don't kill our journalists in this country, we have a nasty habit of blaming the press for news we don't like. We tend to fault reporters for showing us facts that don't fit the narratives in which we desperately want to believe. The fact that nobody of any political persuasion these days feels the press is representing them fairly is a sure sign to me that the press is probably doing a pretty good job of delivering the truth-the good, bad and ugly.

The prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures also understood the danger of speaking the truth. So did Jesus of Nazareth who not only spoke the truth but was the truth. Jesus is the truth about the world, about ourselves and, most importantly, about God. The world is a cruel, dangerous and violent place. We are a cruel, dangerous and violent people. But our God loves this world and each one of us so much that he sent is only begotten Son to live and die in this world so that we, who consistently choose death, might nevertheless have life. Despite all the evidence of destruction, decay and despair we see in the headlines, God has not given up on God's world. That is truth we speak. It is well worth our living and even dying.