Sjolander Road Fellowship




Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

opposition to evil

 

A basic tenet of religion in America and consequently of our culture is the existence of a never ending struggle against the forces of evil. These forces are generally represented as being Satan and his followers. In our culture the forces of evil often include other national groups, a certain political party, criminals, or just outsiders in general. An oft quoted aphorism is that of Edmund Burke to the effect that all it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing. This is the standard clarion call for you and me as good men to stand up and fight the good fight. Whatever evil is, it is always out there. It is external to me and us. Evil exists with others, so resistance always involves the application of coercive measures directed away from me and toward someone else. This constant conflict adds just the purpose to my life which my sense of self requires. It’s the ultimate game or competition, one whose outcome, according to prevailing theology, is certain, despite its apparently endless nature.

 

Did Jesus call me to oppose evil in others? To ostracize, imprison, calumniate, or eliminate. Was Jesus just a “one upper” of the old Mosaic approach to righteousness? If this is, in fact, true, then Jesus came, did the Father’s bidding, and mankind is right where they were before, dealing with its own destructive behavior by force of will. First, the individual is called upon to straighten their own life out by repentance, turning away from their personal evil. Then that individual is mandated to correct the evil in the rest of us by opposition, which really implies the use of force. Thus we have the theological basis for the cultural preoccupation with conflict.

 

Can I correct what I perceive as evil in others? Do I control the behavior of another person? Should I be able to control their behavior? Is that what God expects of me? Many blindly assume that the answer to each of these questions is yes, but is that so?

 

Upon reflection, many would likely admit that they can only control their own actions and then only in a limited way. Much that we do and say is an inbred, knee jerk reaction, imbedded in our behavior pattern by long habit. To that extent, most would probably admit that they don’t even have good control over their own behavior. It just happens, all too often.

 

That being the case, why does our supposed need to resist the behaviors of others go unchallenged? Has my opposition to perceived evil or that of anyone else really made a lasting impact on the existence of evil? One thing that obviously happens, when I obsess over the evil outside of me, is that I ignore the one source of evil which I can reasonably address, my own. Of course, our ego loves anything that focuses attention away from me and my shortcomings. This is the real reason why opposing evil outside of me and mine is so alluring. It provides endless purpose and makes me feel superior.

 

Yes, Jesus called me to oppose evil, but not in the form or manner in which the church proclaims and our culture glories. He called me to oppose the evil which bubbles up in my own mind, making me the arbitrator and enforcer of rightness for everybody else. I have been called to a new way of thinking, incorporating the mind of Christ, not to a more rigid law code and a personal responsibility to demand compliance from my fellowman.