…how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. Acts 10:38
Evil visits us frequently these days. It’s become so commonplace, it seems those reporting news can pick and choose what they televise. While they most likely aren’t actually rating these events on some sort of ‘fear scale,’ it seems what they report can drive our fear to the redline almost immediately. The words ‘active shooter’ catalyze our feelings around fear. If we consider our history, we find these words used more frequently than ever before. Many times, it drives us to ask the question where does this evil come from?
Since creation’s beginning, humanity has been faced with a real enemy. Its presence really isn’t seen, but it can make itself known. The evil one seeks to distort all the good that God has created, including humanity, by any means available. In Genesis 3, evil, in the form of a snake, convinces Adam and Eve that knowing what good and evil are wouldn’t cause their death but would elevate them to God’s level. Believing (incorrectly) that God might be holding them back from this knowledge perhaps was the tipping point for Eve to taste the fruit, and share it with Adam. By choosing to taste, the relationship between God, self, each other, and the Earth were interrupted by evil. Evil became a part of creation’s landscape.
Evil isn’t from God. It wasn’t created by God. It wasn’t instituted by God. Everything God gifts to us is good (James 1:17). God’s plans for us are good and are not meant to harm (Jeremiah 29:11). His compassion is meant for us all (Psalm 145:9). God is love (1 John 4:8) and is void of fear (1 John 4:18). These evil events are driven by an unseen war between Satan and God (Ephesians 6:12). Fear is a primary tool used by the evil one to take our eyes off Jesus. Fear of the wind and waves caused Peter to sink during his water-borne journey to Christ (Matthew 14:28-33), and it’s what can cause us to sink into despair.
If we can recognize where evil comes from, and realize that God is already victorious over the powers of evil (Colossians 2:13-15), the fear that evil causes won’t hold us back. It is then that we can fully demonstrate to others the love that is God. Peter, who sank in the water and denied his relationship with Christ out of fear shows the flip side in Acts 2-4. His condemnation of those who crucified Jesus, followed by his bold declaration Christ regardless of the consequences provides an example of God-imbued courage when evil comes to visit. Remember, God’s already won the victory over evil, so this experience can be ours when we realize evil holds no sway over us.
There are so many ways God’s love can be demonstrated to others, listing them all would take more room than is available. Perhaps a great way to start is to react in love. Or, if there is something you’ve a desire to do to displace evil with good, pursue it!
By Rich Obrecht