Like many of you, I was devastated to learn about the terrorist attacks in Paris, then to discover that the day before, there had been a terrible attack in Beirut.
My teenaged daughter sent me a text, asking “Hey dad, did you hear about Paris?”
I hated that text. I hate that she has to see evil.
What are we to do with all of this? How do we process it, deal with it, face it, navigate it? So many emotions, so many frustrations, so much anger.
Evil Is Real
As human beings, we all must come to grips deep down in our hearts that we live in a world that is filled with hate, anger, and confusion. It’s a sad moment, but one that has to be dealt with. In our desperation, we tend to question God’s love. We begin to pay attention to those whom we can trust. We also try to process the enemy, so we can be safe. Sadly, this can create all sorts of damage to the human soul as we attempt to define who is in and who is out.
Often, we begin to generalize:
- All of those people must believe that same ideology, because they practice the same religion.
- All of those people want to destroy my way of life.
- All of those people are evil.
If fear leads the conversation, it will end in hatred, racism, and more violence. Borders will be closed, wars will be fought, and people groups will be ignored.
Please, tell me that there’s a better way.
The conversation that must be had is the WHY. Why do folks want to cause so much harm? Why do people see me/you/us as the enemy?
Should we drop more bombs, just like we did with Al Qaeda? This is an issue I wrestle with. I’m not a pacifist, but I’m also not a fan of violent conflict. If we really want to create long-term change, I think we have to go deeper than another act of war. We have to be committed to more acts of love–even though love is so hard, especially when someone has hurt you or your way of life.
“Love your enemies …” It’s easy to forget that Jesus told his people to do this. We Christians often fail. We hate those who are not like us, who believe differently than we do. Instead of serving them, we line up and picket. Instead of listening, we grab a megaphone and scream at the top of our lungs. We’re not screaming because we love; we’re screaming because we’re actually not different than the terrorists in Paris. Our hearts are filled with hatred, but we make excuses to justify it; heck, we even use the Bible to mask our own evil!
We tell ourselves that we’re standing up for truth, when in reality, we are like the Pharisees that irritated Jesus to no end.
Evil is real. It exists all over the world–including my heart (Romans 7:19) and yours as well. We need to own that truth, realizing that what we do with it determines the impact we make in this world.
For many of us in the West, Christianity has become comfortable. We have become so busy pursuing our dreams that we fail to embrace all of Scripture, like the part where we are called to be alert, because our enemy is seeking to destroy. (1st Pet 5:8)
Hope Is Real
Once we come to the conclusion that evil does in fact exist, we can build a life that is committed to pushing it away from our hearts and out of the world.
Romans 2:7 tells us that we bring hope to the world when we decide to live an “others-focused” life. It is not easy, but it’s the best decision we can ever make. An others-focused life is filled with grace, mercy, truth, and sacrifice. We put down the megaphone and lift up our neighbors who are hurting. We choose to show love, extend grace, and walk on the side of people who are broken.
Even if we disagree with them, or they disagree with us–even when they hurt us or hate us or even kill us–we choose to love instead. Love is the foundation that allows hope to flourish. Peter reminds us that love overcomes a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). Love must always take a stand to the bully known as evil. It’s like a stare down. We are often given a choice–love or hate, forgiveness or bitterness, freedom or prison.
When we love, we’re not saying we’re okay with evil people that do evil acts. In fact, justice is making what is wrong, right. Love pursues justice and crushes injustice.
A friend of mine was recently in a brothel in southeast Asia, working to bring hope to that dark place. What he saw there was devastating. People that operate places like that need to go to prison. My friend is choosing to love by being part of an organization that is committed to bringing freedom to those who are trafficked.
You see–that’s the thing. We’re angry, and often that anger turns to hate. What if our anger turned to action? What if we choose to love harder and do something about the evil? For instance, we can pray, we can support organizations that are trying to solve the problems, and we can help people whose lives have been destroyed by evil.
Every time the enemy strikes, angry people pick up their megaphones and spew words of hate. We can counter that by showing love, doing good, and serving our friends, neighbors, and even our enemies.
Maybe that can change something. On Friday night, I asked myself this question: why did those bombers want to kill those innocent people?
I could only think of one answer–they hated those people enough to do something that cowardly. Is there anyway to show the bombers, the terrorists, that we don’t hate them? To show them that we actually want to love them and see them live a life that matters?
Your Life Matters. Be Committed To Doing Good.
We can all commit our lives to doing good. It’s not always easy, and it can get really messy. But so far, I have not found a better way forward. When I study the life of Jesus, it just seems that He would ask us to dig deeper, to set a new standard, to live a life that is committed to healing, restoration, and showing love.
This is how we stand up to evil. This is how we conquer hate. This is how we see change.
This morning, I stared out the window as David Crowder streamed through the speakers. I whispered a prayer and reminded myself that I’m more committed than ever to seek justice and see lives transformed. I’m committed to staring evil in the face and refusing to allow myself to become evil. I’m committed to do good, to see evil destroyed by love.
I hope you will stand with me for peace, reconciliation, love, and forgiveness. Remember what Paul says in Romans 12:21: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”