“If the fact of my adhering to laws does not further the goal of my life, which is to know Christ Jesus and live his gospel, then merely external conformity does little if anything.” – John McKenzie
Culturally, we like to make war when it comes to what we believe. As a society we like to place our views at odds and carry an ideological battle against that which we disagree with. Society’s battles for abstract moral constructs seem to conflict on everyday levels of freedoms and rights. For so many, they become the molehills made into life long mountains of agenda. This is a societal discipline in transferring blame to a specific source, outside of the societal self, and isolates it to an enemy to be conquered. Issues like terrorism, same sex marriage, abortion, and a variety of other nasty issues, are hot buttons in this world of mutually subjective moral sway. We feel, we form concrete opinions, and we make our war. We pull no punches in assassinating the character of the opposition, for they become the transferred embodiment of the form of evil, instead on a person who has performed an act which we disagree with. Ultimately, we replace the other side of our position as a force of evil in the world and create a moral objection to its dominance over a civil human right. In this world we can be assured that evil exists. It is powerful and has influence on the earth, though Christ did not come to enlist us into an army of reformers who would save mankind from its own perilous sinful ways. He came that we might know Him and live abundantly in his presence. He came that we would draw our daily significance from our nearness to his heart and the will of the Father.
In our experiences with a fallen world, there is a great tendency to align the essence of evil to a source, so that we might be able to control the source. We know that the Devil prowls around us like a lion and are warned to be alert to his presence, that we might not be devoured. But God did not give us this knowledge to control Satan, rather to reinforce our need that we should submit our lives to the control of the Spirit of God who would keep us sustained in a world gone awry. Unfortunately, in many of the efforts we put forth to control elements of evil, we extend Satan’s power into issues and people. We do this to the extent that distracts us from our focus on drawing nearer to the Father and subverts us to focus on the pragmatics of the issue and who is involved in element of sin. The idea of the truth that every single human being is a flawed sinful being escapes us in these moments. We forget that only through the reconciliation of man to the heart of Christ, is one free from sin ruling in the life of a person. To condemn those who do not yet know the free gift, that not of their works, in forgiveness, is not the calling of the community of faith, but only the ability of God. Yet, continually we assign this monopoly on evil to causes, enemies and issues with more fervent objection than we search our own hearts. We end up making stances of an absolute moral evil based upon those who are based in a construct that is “foolishness to the non-believer.” We end up in this endeavor, taking a single focused stance against issues, and in response against people.
In our fear from terrorist action, we source the evil in someone like Osama bin Laden, though while he is responsible for evil actions, is not the source of terrorist evil in the world. We assign cultural sin to a nation, like North Korea, designating certain evil to their character and every intention. We ferret out individuals in a conservative or liberal mindset and allot the mass media opinions and limitations on California’s proposition 8, exaggerating circumstances and campaigning for personal civil rights by imposing limitations on other’s freedoms. We take the issue of life reverence in the case of abortion and treat a 16 year old girl who has an abortion as a moral dysfunctional outcast of society; yet we demand the death penalty for those who violate other social contracts. We source our evil with people groups and ideologies; Muslims, the Catholic Church, Judaism, Mormons, Episcopalians, Baptists, Atheists, Republicans and Democrats, Capitalists, Socialists, Communists… the list is long and disheartening. Unfortunately, we feel that when a single person, interest group, nation, institution or ideology is identified as offensive to a perceived “civil right” or the specific cause of moral conflict, we brand them as evil or as the Devil. By the logic of our Christian efforts to be aware of the Devil and free from evil, we make a social morality war of campaigning to eliminate the source and feel that if we are able to rid our world of it, everything will be alright again, or our country will return to following God. This argument is a battle of a lack of reality and confusion of Christ’s mission to save the lost. A few patriots, pilgrims and a western world accustomed to the Christian religion, is not a society of followers of Christ. We also know that societal acceptance of the things of Christ was never promised, nor was it Christ’s experience. The only period for a Christ centered rule in the world is when Christ returns. Unfortunately, the fight to reform the world has left its scars on the world in the name of Christ. As Bertrand Russell states, “The intolerance that has spread over the world with the advent of Christianity is one of its most curious features.” The idea that we would be more known for our disapproving social statements and objections in society rather that the earthly embodiment of Christ’s love, acceptance and forgiveness is truly one of the most discouraging problems facing followers of Christ. We are not perceived as silent sentinels, though we are seen as loud, forceful, objecting, condemning pillars of communities which lack the deep, affecting, accepting love of Jesus; the kind of affection which drew us to the nearness of his heart. The Jesus who wrapped his arms around us and said, “Come to me as you are, I forgive you. You are mine; I have paid the price to rapture you from evil. You are a delight in my eyes, for you are my creation.”
In our public outcry of warring over ideal, we are those who find our purpose in Christ. Fortunately for us, He has called us to know Him and rely on the will of the Father to bring about the restoration of the world. Our nearness to his heart is the branding from which we step forth to interact with a world drenched in sin, and in desperate need to be found by his mercy and grace. We are aliens to a world in sin. We are regarded as fools for the sake of Christ. We know that as He and his apostles were treated with disdain, so should we expect to suffer the same on his behalf. In response to our suffering we are to love our neighbor, love our God and share this love with those who are lost. When the campaigns for social battles come to our doorsteps, we must remind ourselves that Christ redeemed us through reconciliation to a relationship with Him, and not a logical argument of why He is the way, the truth and the life. In these moments we must focus on Him who has made us whole and the leading of the Spirit in love. We were given this gift of grace to draw nearer to Him, enjoy his faithful love forever and show that love to others. As we live though this life He has given us, let us strive to be sources of peace and love, submitting ourselves to Him and showing his love to those we interact with. In this He is pleased, glorified and rewards us richly in the presence of his nearness to our hearts. Let us exchange our monopoly on evil for a republic of peace, as Paul recommended to the Colossians:
Since you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above instead of on earthly things; for you have died to yourself and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ is revealed, who is the very essence of your life, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death the sinful nature that is within your flesh, because the wrath of God is coming for those caught in their disobedience to Him, as you once were when you used to walk in these ways, in the life you lived prior to your new self. Even now, you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not deceive one another, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. In response to this, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom and a spirit of love, as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. Whatever you do, in word or deed, do it with all your heart, as if working for the Lord and not for men; since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.