Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Question of Evil

Have you ever thought of yourself as being evil? I have to admit I have reserved the title "evil" for the really bad people of history.
People like Hitler and Stalin come to mind for my evil list.
As usual, the words of Jesus recently challenged my habit of personally excluding myself and other "good" people from the list of evil. Jesus said in Matt. 7: 11 "if you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!"
Jesus' words "you, being evil" really hit me hard at the exact moment I was thinking of a person who had hurt some people I deeply love and I heard myself saying "He is evil."

So, I asked Jesus to explain the meaning of evil to me and that set in motion some days of intense connecting of Bible verses and Jesus' use of the word evil. Here is what finally came together for me and I have had to extend my evil list to include me.

Evil is the creating of a list of people I give myself permission not to love.

Jesus said we are all able to create a list of people we choose to love. "...being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children"
The children made it on my personal list so they receive the best I am and the best I have.

I know that the Devil is on our list of evil beings. I am beginning to see that the Devil was expelled from heaven because he wanted to be like God. The devil is not a creator. The devil is not omnipresent, omniscient or omnipotent. So, what was the devil wanting that only God is? I think the devil wanted to decide who he would love. I don't think God was really concerned with any other power the devil might grasp for except the power to lead others to live with a list of God's creatures who did not deserve to be loved.

Instead of loving all, the devil wanted to reserve the right for himself and his followers to create a list of people or beings that did not deserve to be loved. This, then, is the birth of evil. Jesus is the birth of the cure for evil among men.

Jesus' birth is the arrival of the first man who would never have a list of who should be loved. Jesus had no list. "For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son..." John 3:16 Jesus' arrival is the arrival of the Kingdom of God. A Kingdom with no list.

I am evil whenever I keep a list of who deserves my love. When I have such a list I am competing with God for the one thing I can do that only God should be doing. God has already decided who is worthy of love and the list is everyone so I don't need a list at all.

Whenever we insist of keeping a list of who deserves the best of us and the best we have, we compete with God's decsion that love is for all.

Jesus had no list. That is what infuriated the devil, the pharisees and the romans. They all had lists and wanted Jesus either to adopt their list or end up on their list. The no list Jesus even upset the apostles shortly before the crucifixion as Peter tried to stop Jesus from going to His death. Jesus confronted that interference with God's love with the words "Get behind me Satan."

To be a disciple is give up our list of who deserves the best we are and the best we have. Read the sermon on the mount with that thought about evil in mind and verses like "go the second mile" or "turn the other cheek" or "love your enemy" will suddenly seem completely in tune with a kingdom that allows no lists.

The person I was calling evil is evil to the extent that they actually promote lists of who should be loved. The problem is, their evil was leading me to create a list, too. Evil is closer to me than I wanted to admit. "You, being evil" fits us all when we grab our pen to add a new name to our list.


Shane Par-Due said...

That was a very sobering thought and I appreciate your time in posting!

It's been a long time since I've seen or talked to you, but I got your card for my wedding. Thank you!

I hope all is well and it's nice to see your blog..I'm now subscribed and anxious to hear more from you!

Tracy Simmons said...

This is such a powerful post. Thanks for your words, they really touched me.