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I was recently asked to respond to the three questions below. How would you respond?
What does my worldview say about evil out there, and the evil in my own heart and the evil that I commit?
What is evil? To me evil is the direct consequence of the choices humanity and I make when we try to live our lives independently of our Creator. Independent living is loveless living. I find I am completely incapable of loving my wife, my children and my neighbour without the help of God. To me evil is evidence that humanity and I are completely broken and in need of Godly intervention. Human trafficking … corruption … violence … dishonesty … harsh words … gossip … all evidence of living for myself, of trying to replace God and be god – an insane pursuit that leads to complete isolation, shutting out both my Creator and other people.
I have also found that when I try to deal with evil on my own, I fail miserably time and time again. There is only one solution: I have to embrace who Jesus is, what He has done for me and who I become when I accept that His life has been the just payment for the evil I have committed against God and my fellow human beings. Paul summarises it well in Romans 7:21-25, “I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
What is the appropriate response when I fail to live up to the love God has called me to?
The only response is be honest that I need the love of God the Father, the salvation that comes through Jesus Christ and the strength, wisdom and knowledge that the Holy Spirit gives. This is worked out by confessing my acts of self-centred living to God when I become aware of it. I also need to acknowledge my lack of love to the people who have been affected by it. This is a humbling experience that can be really hard to carry out, but it brings a joyous liberation and freedom that pales in comparison with pridefully holding on to loveless living.
What should be done about a relationship/situation that is not as strong it should be because I had not loved well?
Scripture teaches me to deal with my loveless acts swiftly. “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24) Although Jesus spoke these words in the context of the hurt that anger can cause, I believe it is an appropriate response regardless of the circumstance. Matthew later records Jesus’ response to Peter’s question about forgiveness: Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21-22) So restoring relationships begins with forgiveness because I have been forgiven an eternal debt by God the Father through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ.
I have had to engage with the humbling process of reconciliation this week. How about you?