These lyrics are probably not the most familiar from the song, "Strawberry Fields" by The Beatles. The rallying cry, "Strawberry fields forever!" is probably more popular and memorable. When I hear them, images of the Civil Rights Movement, Women's Rights Movement or the Vietnam anti-war protests come to top of mind. Then my thoughts turn to more joyous times when a drinking glass is hoisted and the toast is accompanied by shouts: Ein Prosit! L'Chaim!
The line of Strawberry Fields, "Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed, Misunderstanding All You See" is the one that caught my attention. In fact, it nags at me constantly. It's like the words are my spare tire, following me around in the trunk of my car everywhere I go. To be honest, that's one spare tire I wish were flat as a pancake. They convict me. Intensely and profoundly. But what do I do? I just slam the trunk, get back into the driver's seat and walk away.
Why must they haunt me so? The Eighth Commandment. Thou shalt not bear false witness against they neighbor. Now, I doubt that John Lennon had the 8th Commandment in mind when he wrote this song. In fact, I know he didn't. Lennon lived in an area of Liverpool, England where there was a Salvation Army children's home. You guessed it. The name of the home was Strawberry Field. Lennon was pining for his hometown and inspired to write this song that was released in 1967.
In Martin Luther's explanation to this commandment he states that we are not to speak ill of our neighbor but speak well of him and "put the best construction on everything." That's why these words pierce my heart. More often than not, I don't put the best construction on people's words and/or actions. It's a lot easier to live with eyes closed to the truth. It's a lot easier to put your own explanation or judgment on what others are doing or saying. Most of the time, when your eyes are opened by the truth, it turns out to be not even remotely related to the explanation you conjured up erroneously.
Let's face it, it's much more fun -- and satisfying to our sinful nature -- to reveal the sinful condition of others than it is to improve their life. Revenge is often the motive to undermine someone's reputation by airing faults. We're hurt and we want to see them hurt, too. They hurt me -- I'll get back at them. I'll gossip. I'll spread some rumors. I'll lie about what I saw. I'll betray a confidence.
In John 14:6, Jesus says, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Light." What a powerful statement. Jesus is telling us he is our destiny and our search for meaning. He is the answer to that infernal question: What is truth? The Son is the Sun that illuminates the world and enables our hearts and eyes to see.
Lennon's proclamation was profound, perhaps serendipitously. Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see. Doing so enables you to live out your sinful nature and put YOUR construction on everything you see. Nine times out of ten, it's not the BEST construction. I'd like to change the words around a bit: Living is difficult with eyes open, understanding all you see. That's the challenge we face everyday.
A famous movie line from "A Few Good Men" comes to mind. Jack Nicholson screams, "You can't handle the truth." Yes, we can Jack. It just takes the eyes of Christ and the mind of Christ and the heart of Christ to do that. What a marvelous gift we have received from God. To walk by faith and have His love be the lens through which we can learn to put the best construction on everything. -Soli Deo Gloria