As we celebrate the Easter holiday, I reflect on Jesus and what He was all about. For many the story of Jesus is first of all a call to personal repentance in order to escape from God’s wrath, followed by a commitment to convert others and oppose evil. This last aspect of the supposed message of Jesus, opposition to evil, is the one that I want to focus on today. When a large portion of the population believes that they are required to identify, segregate, and ultimately eliminate all sources of evil, as has been the case throughout human history under the influence of the church, the door is left wide open for all manner of malfeasance in the name of God and righteousness.
Jesus pictured as a warrior, fighting to overcome evil, is much more easily embraced by the human ego and our cultural conditioning than Jesus the servant who befriended tax collectors, prostitutes, and the impoverished. These elements of humanity are exactly the “sources of evil”, toward which the church and those under its influence often direct their attention, but to oppose rather than embrace.
If one pays attention to the ethics of Jesus, I believe we will see that His message about how to deal with evil was different from what we habitually practice. The instruction to live by the Golden Rule and even to love one’s enemies is a call to address the issue of evil inside our own selves, not by pointing out the faults of others. The application of the Golden Rule, for instance, does not require that I know anything at all about a person before deciding how to treat them. Certainly, the Good Samaritan did not check character references before helping the wounded man by the side of the road.
I can conceivably control my own actions. The actions of others are outside my control. Jesus never called me to be your judge. He just called my attention to a new way of thinking, one which challenges all the old assumptions about evil and how to deal with