Thursday, April 30, 2015

Evil Has To Go

From the time you are a little kid you are aware, at least on some level, that evil exists. Either your parents let you watch Sleeping Beauty movies and you learned who Maleficent was, or you started reading the papers, or even you grew up with siblings and you felt at least a form of evil when your brother’s fist made contact with your nose.

But it usually takes people a long time to want to fight evil. Mostly we just want it to go away. And we want to be protected, safe and secure. And for children that is their primary need and completely understandable.

And then there comes the day when as an adult you realize you are called on to stand up against evil. You hear the Edmund Burke quote that says “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” And it hits you that you want to be a good man or a good woman. I know I want to stand up against evil and not let it have its way in my life or in anyone else’s. I want to resist. I am outraged by evil and am unwilling to accept it or let it succeed. Exploitation of our children! Oppression of human beings! Atrocities against women! Injustice of every kind! Many feel as I. “Do not go gentle into that good night / Rage, rage against the dying of the light” … Dylan Thomas. Many of us read the news and think the light of justice is dying in this world.

Our very outrage at evil provides a clue for us. There is a reason for our visceral response to evil. It's because of who made us. We operate every day with a standard of goodness by which we judge this world with its defects. And when we use this almost universal measuring stick we recognize how profoundly lacking the reality we see every day is compared to this standard.

Pain is not just theoretical for us. It is real and it is physical! When our little child is hurt by our failure and they look at us through tears and say: “Why did you hurt me so bad?” or ‘How could you let this happen?” as parents we suddenly experience very real and personal pain. What we realize is that evil not only happens halfway around the world but sometimes happens to people we know and who are very close to us. And it is then that we can no longer leave it in the theoretical but must make it personal, and to decide if we will fight against it, and how.

The primary place where evil exists is within the tragedies and failures of human history. To clarify, some tragedies are outside of human control. When we see a tsunami or an Ebola epidemic we realize these constitute tragedies involving precious human life but they are not borne of evil. When I speak here of evil it is that which is concocted and planned in the human heart. Evil often feels like it will triumph over good. Good seems like delicate stemware and evil feels like an earthquake rattling and rumbling and destroying all of what is good.

The very best things in life come to us through our families, but so do the very worst. The greatest good of all is love and nothing seems more fragile and tender than love. Nothing is more easily broken than trust. Nothing is more easily disappointed than hope.

Perhaps if we look at how Jesus dealt with evil we can learn. He said ‘do not be overcome with evil but overcome evil with good’. How did He do this? Jesus’ simple answer was in one word . . . forgiveness. Forgiveness admits that evil is evil. But it effectively separates the sinner and the sin and sets the sinner free. And for the one who has committed evil, it helps that person to turn from the evil and say they are sorry to their victim also and this allows release from evil and its power to destroy your own soul.

The laws of logic would appear to prevent God from being both just and merciful at the same time. But God solved this difficult dilemma on Calvary. Full justice was done: sin was punished. The weight of the entire human race’s sin debt fell on Christ’s body. But mercy and forgiveness were also enacted. The answer was for God to give us the mercy and give Christ the justice. And Jesus was willing for this to happen. In fact He took much joy in it. Jesus’ perfect sacrifice on our behalf separated the sin from the sinner. This allowed sin to receive its punishment in the person of Jesus and at the same time allows sinners to receive mercy and forgiveness in our own selves. Are you blown away by this mercy extended to us?

The legal requirements of evil were dealt with when Christ died on the cross. He paid for all the evil that had ever been done or even thought about. And it was done fairly in that the gift of being exonerated from our crimes was extended to every human being. Everyone! No matter what we did. What’s required for us, the evil doers is to personally accept Christ’s gift of eternal life that separated our sin from us the sinners. We are given the amazing gift that allows us to turn from our sins and our failures and the very worst things we have ever done. And by believing in the power of this gift, in the truth of what Jesus accomplished on our behalf, we become new people. It is almost too big to wrap our minds around.

It just happens to be true. Evil got conquered on the cross by Christ. Now we get to live like totally new people. Because the truth is…we are.

Evil Has To Go!

There is a love that does not abuse and does not exploit. It does not abandon or reject. It does not lie or cheat. This Love is faithful, pure, and true . . . perfect to the end. His name is Jesus.

Mark Phelps

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