Standing up to our Friends (January 8, 2013)

…Opening To…

Just like a deer that craves streams of water,
my whole being craves you, God.
My whole being thirsts for God, for the living God. (Psalm 42:1-2a)

…Listening In…

“There are all kinds of courage,” said Dumbledore, smiling. “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. I therefore award ten points to Mr. Neville Longbottom.” (Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone)

…Filling Up…

Day two of our first Harry Potter week on devo180 has come. As the story reaches its climax, Harry, Ron, and Hermione resolve to sneak out of Gryffindor tower to try to stop Professor Snape (Quirrell, really, but they don’t know that yet) from obtaining the Sorcerer’s Stone. They wait in the common room until everyone has gone to bed, and then they move toward the door. But Neville Longbottom (a pitiable character, at least in this first book) gets in their way. He tells them he doesn’t think they should be going out and breaking any more school rules. He stands up to his friends because he thinks he is in the right. And he shows quite a bit of courage doing it.

But Harry, Ron, and Hermione think they are in the right, as well. They need to break a few rules in order to stop Voldemort from returning. What we have here is a classic problem in the field of “ethics.” Sometimes our decisions involve choices between right and wrong. Presumably, these are fairly easy choices to make: you make the right one because the wrong one is, well, wrong. It would be like saying 2 + 2 = 5. (The black and white nature of right/wrong choices doesn’t stop people from choosing the wrong option, of course, but that’s another matter.)

More often than not, however, our choices are not between right and wrong but between right and right. In our example from Harry Potter, both Neville and our heroic trio are in the right: Neville wants them to obey the rules, and they want to stop Voldemort. So which would you choose? I imagine we would all say, “Stop Voldemort.”

But that doesn’t make Neville’s alternative any less valid. (In books 5 and 7, by the way, Neville is the poster child for breaking rules in order to fight Voldemort.) His example in the first book reminds us that our decisions often have more than one right answer. These choices are so much harder to make than the ones with a right and a wrong answer. So my questions for you are these: when is the last time you can remember deciding something that had more than one right answer? What guided your decision-making?

…Praying For…

Dear God, you are the source of all truth in my life. Help me, whenever I am confronted with a decision, to choose the option that most aligns with your desires for me. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, glad to know that, even though I am a muggle, you still weave your magic through my life.

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