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Seeing Red

I recently saw a post that stated sheep can’t see the color red. They can see blue, yellow, cyan, and greenish hues, and clearly identify objects up to 20 feet away. Their eyesight is at its best when their heads are down and grazing, as their excellent peripheral vision (320-340 degrees) gives them a keen ability to see predators sneaking up on them. Their “blind spot,” however, is right in front of their nose and they have very poor depth perception.

How people figured all this out is beyond me. I’m stuck on the idea that sheep can’t see red. Not only can humans see red, we can “see red” in ways that our sweet-tempered sheep could never comprehend.

The American idiom “seeing red” is thought to originate with the sport of bull-fighting, when a red cape is waved in front of the bull. Funny thing is, bulls can’t see red either. The other explanation dates back to the first American literary usage in 1900, where the author, explaining his intense emotions accompanied by a feeling of rising blood and anger, says: “I began to see things red.”

Scripture tells us there’s a place for holy and righteous anger. After all, Jesus fiercely tipped over the tables outside the Temple and gave a scathing rebuke to the moneychangers and others who were turning his Father’s house into a den of thieves. A wonderful confessor once told me that feeling angry isn’t a sin. It’s when we nurse our anger so that it turns into wrath that the very-human-emotion of anger becomes a revenge-seeking, deadly sin. Wrath is rightly reserved for the mind and hand of God:

Beloveds, do not take revenge, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19

I’m not going to take a deep dive into politics, world events, culture wars, racism, biblical prophecy, crimes against humanity, or other barbaric atrocities that are dominating the headlines and breaking our collective hearts. Just the same, the truth is that I’m seeing red. I’m angry as hell. But vengeance isn’t mine.

As much as I don’t feel like heeding them, the last time I checked, the words of Jesus haven’t changed:

“You have heard how it was said, You will love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say this to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; so that you may be children of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on the bad as well as the good, and sends down rain to fall on the upright and the wicked alike.” Matthew 5:43-45

Right now, I’m no better than a sheep with a blind spot and poor depth perception because I don’t see how this is possible to do and I don’t understand such ways of God. But I do trust his Word. And I do trust in the saving blood of Jesus poured out on the cross for all of humankind. In these especially troubled, tragic times, this is the red I am focusing on.

Because it’s the only red that makes sense.

"Shalom I leave with you. My shalom I give to you; not as the world gives, give I to you. Don't let your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful." John 14:27 HNV


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