We are often told that we live in an evil world. To protect our family, friends and colleagues we are encouraged to pray for them. To protect ourselves, we are guided to avoid the evil. Have you asked yourself what is the evil that we need protection against and do you wonder if our understanding affects our perspective on how we share the gospel to others?
September 11th is a day in which we reflect on an act that resulted on the death of many innocent people both on that day and the days to follow. Those who committed this act felt their target was a hub of evil and have justified their action based on their interpretation of evil. So, is evil a specific country or a culture? Many condemn the hedonistic nature of society suggesting our pleasure is not at the heart of God’s plan for us. So, is evil found in the vacation spots of the world where we laugh and play in the sun? Is it at the athletic arenas where we cheer on our favourite team? Is evil in our neighbourhoods where people avoid church on Sunday mornings to mow the lawn, read a book, or maybe watch TV. Our perspective of evil could even suggest that all activity that does not bring honour to God is evil. We could then easily conclude that all those who do not follow Jesus are part of the world and therefore evil. We may even convince ourselves to avoid them and take refuge in our Christian communities, surrounding ourselves with those who love God and us. However, if we avoid those around us who do not follow Jesus how will we take the gospel to our family, friends and colleagues and make disciples of all nations?
Viktor Frankl wrote the book Man’s Search for Meaning and in it he shares some of his experiences in a Nazi prison camp. One evening a prisoner came running from the compound into the building where he was eating and cried for them to rush out in the small yard to see the beauty of the sunset. Tired as they were, they went out and stood in hushed silence watching the brilliant hues of the evening sky running the spectrum from red to steel blue. In fact, the rays of the sun on the muddy water standing in puddles on the ground looked beautiful. After several undisturbed minutes a prisoner said, “How beautiful the world could be.”
When God finished creating the world He said it was very good. He put humanity into the world to experience this goodness. Evil originated from one who exists to destroy God’s desire for humanity and as he started to have an influence on the world, Jesus was sent. Jesus did not run from the world but everyday He immersed Himself in the lives of the people in it. He shared the hope that God intended the world to be very good and a new world was possible. Understating the evil in the world is very important especially if we are to reflect Christ like behaviour. We can overcome evil and take back what was given to us one neighbourhood at a time.
We do not have to fear evil because the power of the Holy Spirit is available to enlighten, protect and strengthen us. We must pray daily for the salvation of our communities but before we step out into them, we must heed the guidance of Ephesians 6:10-18 and prepare ourselves. We need to share what we know about God’s intentions so that others can experience the very good of this world. We need to recruit followers. We will win God’s approval when we win others to Christ and to His church.