As we try to digest the latest evidence of evil in our world, a mix of emotions and thoughts come. Some are fed up. They want to give up. “The world is going to Hell,” they say.
Some are angry and want to take that anger out on those they deem as potential perpetrators of this type of evil. Some don’t know what to think or feel and are just numb to it all.
Not another one . . .
Against the backdrop of the horrific murders and the hurting hearts, what could help us? Here are three ideas to help.
First, realize it is not possible to make sense of what happened.
We all want to make intellectual sense of what occurred. Law enforcement tries to piece together a motive so that we can “understand” why and speculate how we can prevent it in the future. This is important and should be done. Yes. But the answer–whatever is concluded–will never fully satisfy us. The nagging question of “Why?” will remain.
The reason: Evil doesn’t make sense. Sin, in its essence, is irrational. It will never make sense. At the end of the day, all people do the wicked things they do because of this same reason–sin! That’s all we can conclude. It should leave us desiring a more full explanation.
Second, understand the struggle we are in is not against people, it is against sin and Satan.
God tells us that we, “do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12 ESV)
Although, humanly speaking, evil always has a face, there is something behind the eyes of the evildoer that drives the evil committed. God’s enemy, the Devil is at war with God and sinful humans have joined with him against God. They don’t believe they are enlisted in the Devil’s army because, “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4 ESV) But enlisted they are.
Many will call for a whole host of measures to combat further violence, yet not one idea will address this root problem. Sadly, they’re all doomed for failure.
Do we still use wisdom to try and promote peace the best we can? Yes! Do we still implement good ideas along these lines? Yes! But, ultimately we will be unsuccessful. It’s God’s war to fight and his to win.
Third, recognize that our role in the fight against evil begins in our own heart and on our own street.
We can’t go to San Bernadino and fix it. But we can very much fight against sin and Satan right now, every day where we are. God instructs us that, “…we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.” (1 John 3:23 ESV)
We say, “I want to fight against this evil and violence.” We should. But the first move in this fight is in our own heart. It’s the battle to believe that Jesus has come to save our own heart from the evil which dwells inside it. To do this, we admit both that the evil exists and that we need God’s forgiveness in Jesus to remedy it. When we begin here, then we are better prepared and equipped to love those around us.
We can’t walk our street looking to thwart the next murderer but we can cross our street to get to know our neighbor. We can have them into our home to share a meal. We can talk about life while we stand in the driveway while our kids play in the yard. We can care for them.
The events in San Bernardino are evil. We won’t overcome them however, with further violence but with the good we do among our neighbors. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21 ESV)
– Eric Creekmore, Lead Pastor