There has been much in the news over the past couple of months that I have wanted to comment on. I hope to get back to blogging soon. Until then, the gun control debate reminded me of this post, originally written on Christmas 2012, after Sandy Hook. Wanted to republish it now.
I will not spend a word of this blog post rehashing or reiterating. By now, everyone knows what happened. Everyone in the nation, perhaps around the world, is simply trying to grasp this. There is no mystery about what occured (are the details even important in the grand scheme). The questions now are all about…why? How can someone do such a thing?
To answer that I will review a bit of a conversation I heard last night between Bill O’Reilly and Geraldo.
O’Reilly: You would classify this as evil wouldn’t you? I mean that’s what this is…”
Geraldo: Bill, Evil is not strong enough this is beyond evil.
O’Reilly: There is something terribly wrong going through our society and there is nothing we can do about it. I mean we can’t stop it.
Another reporter on another show said: “With all that we have seen in recent years, we have never seen anything like this.”
All three of these people are incorrect. I don’t say that to judge. They are stuggling as I am, as we all are, to get our heads around this.
But I know that evil IS a strong enough word. I know that we HAVE seen it like this and have seen it many times, and I know that there IS something we can do about it. In fact I’ve seen it myself, close up and personal. I’ve experienced it. That’s why I live to fight it.
Dietrech Bonhoffer, the great Christian theologian took a stand against Hitler in the late 1930’s and early during the second war. The Nazi’s murdered him for taking that stand. He was imprissoned repeatedly, He was hauled around in a panel truck where he was stacked liked cordwood along with other former German dignataries that had dared to question Der Fuhrer. They were kept in the truck for stretches as long as 20 hours. They had no choice but to urinate and defecate on one another. Eventually Bonhoffer was hung at Tegel military prison.
From that prison cell, Bonhoffer wrote these words: The great masquerade of evil has played havoc with all our ethical concepts. For evil to appear disguised as light, charity, historical necessity or social justice is quite bewildering to anyone brought up on our traditional ethical concepts, while for the Christian who bases his life on the Bible, it merely confirms the fundamental wickedness of evil.
The fundamental wickedness of evil…He is talking about here evil disguising itself as something good in order to find a way to wreak destruction. Evil is a strong enough word. This is evil…this slaughter of innocent five year olds…this is what it looks like. As Christians we have been warned of this. This is the self same dark force in the universe that scourged an innocent Christ until he was nearly disembowled. This is the same force that nailed him to a cross and then mocked him. This is the same force that motivated Hitler to lead toddlers to the ovens.
We HAVE seen this before. We see it nearly every day. We see it when we hear of young boys raped by a football coach who masqueraded as someone they could trust and someone that cared for them. We see it when any innocent young child is harmed anywhere in the world. We see it in modern day genocides in Africa. We see it when ISIS beheads, rapes, and tortures. This is how evil manifests itself. There are no limitations to its outworking of death and destruction there is no remorse present in evil there is no compassion within it.
This is the same force that lures us in with lust, or drugs, or even a promise of alleviating loneliness. It lures with something attractive so that it can rip apart and utterly devastate.
This is the force of darkness that the Bible warns about over and over and over. They are warnings which our culture scoffs at over and over and over. The same people on TV today saying, “Lift a prayer”, will be the same people saying, “How dare you use the word sin…how dare you judge…” tomorrow. There is an enmity with good present in our hearts that wants to stop us from truly admitting that there is evil. It prevents us from doing that one thing that can be done.
Here is where O’Reilly was wrong. We can do something about it. In this world we cannot eliminate it. Evil is among us. It permeates this sinful world. But the counter to it is love.
That seems counterintuitive. It seems that in order to defeat evil like this kid demonstrated at Sandy Hook, we need to take up arms or draw swords. But in that method O’Reilly would be right. Those efforts would be futile. Love as a remedy for evil seems to us as wholly inadequte. It seems too simple and innocuous to work or be effective, yet it is the only effectual strategy.
Of all things… the greatest weapon against evil…the only weapon against evil…is a babe. Satan didn’t see that one coming. That he with all his darkness and wickedness would be defeated by a babe in a manger. That is because that particular Babe represented amazing, unspeakable…LOVE. And love is the atom bomb to evil. Evil cannot overcome pure love. It cannot, it will not defeat love. In fact, love has defeated it.
It is in the Incarnation of Christ…it is in the amazing love of God made flesh, that evil finds its ultimate doom.
I am about to go out tonight and strike a mighty blow against evil. I don’t feel like it but I am going to travel to widows houses on this rainy night and I am going to give them cookies and sing them Christmas Carols. I am going to sing about a Silent Night when perfect love was personified. It is one step. It is one starfish thrown back into the sea. But it IS a step toward the conquering of evil.
And it is not because of anything I did. It is effective and it is the ultimate answer only because it flows from Him and is about what He did.
Satan is evil manifested. He is wickedness concentrated. God, immaculated in Jesus Christ, IS goodness. All that is good flows from Him. The baby Jesus represents all of that perfect and overpowering and conoquering love poured out from God to this sick and decaying world.
Evil will not stand. These babies will be avenged. But for now, it is not for us to avenge them. It is for us to love and by loving to strike a blow on those childrens behalf against the evil that befell them.