Have you been wearing your tin foil lately? I’m not sure it’s necessary. If I remember right, it’s supposed to help keep those sneaky, telepathic aliens from plucking thoughts from your mind like blueberries from a bush. However, I suspect reports of telepathy are highly exaggerated and are primarily the province of sci-fi and fantasy authors. I must say that it is a fun and popular ploy, too. Humans, aliens, and demigods all with unusual and interesting powers of the mind make for some curious and fascinating plots.

I was thinking about this on my way to work one day this week. It was all mixed up with the topic of conflict. Lurking in the back of my mind was a series of memories, of being stuck in some dress that I didn’t like (it didn’t matter which dress – I didn’t like ’em!), sitting in a hard, wooden pew, and listening to the pastor talk solemnly of communion and the necessity of being pure in God’s sight before partaking of communion. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like there was some passage (I’m being too lazy to go digging for it) that would be always be read that talked about the importance of clearing your conscience and making right of the wrongs you’d done before jumping in and gobbling away. It was solemn, sacred, a purity to be honored. I recall much soul searching on my part to make sure I was right and clean.

Regarding conflict, in my early years, that was the passage I remember most discussed, probably thanks to communion. Apparently, it wasn’t one I memorized for Awana, since I am not remembering where to find it, but what did stick was the idea that it’s the responsibility of the wrongdoer, of the offender, to make amends. The doer of badness is supposed to repentant and all that razz-ma-tazz.

Ah, but you know what I discovered later on in life? It ain’t that simple! Let me give you an example here. Matthew 18:

15 “If your brother or sister[b] sins,[c] go and point out their fault, just between the two of you.

That’s the NIV’s take. Here’s the ESV:

15(W) “If your brother sins against you,(X) go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.

Isn’t that interesting? The burden of confrontation (and by confrontation, I don’t mean knock-down, drag-out fight. I mean stopping with someone to have a conversation about something that’s more likely to be dodged) also rests on the offended, not just the offender. I don’t know about you, but that’s scary. It means if I’m mad at somebody for doing something that hurt me, I also have a responsibility to approach them about the matter. It’s not okay for me to sit wounded and pouting on my high horse in the corner and wait for them to humbly come and beg my forgiveness. Stink in a bucket, doncha know?!? Seems, oh, dangerous to make the victim also responsible for the conflict’s resolution.

It also, after thinking about it for a while, makes some sense. We don’t read minds. Far as I know, there’s no mass telepathy available to the human race. We’re pretty much locked into our own skulls with all the limitations on data observation imposed by our senses and all the constraints on interpreting that data imposed by our personalities, values, and experiences. That means that even when there’s evidence of offense right there, we sometimes don’t see it, and if we see it, we won’t necessarily interpret appropriately. I may not figure out that I just stomped all over your toes if you don’t actually tell me that I did. If nothing else, I’d guess this passage is there to help iron out the accidental offenses, the ones occurring by mistake. It gives the guilty innocents (innocent can also mean unaware) the benefit of the doubt and a chance to quickly repent before more injury occurs.

So maybe it is not horribly frightening. Maybe it’s great.

And maybe one day, we will all read minds and won’t have to do it. 😉