Friday, October 06, 2006

Wisdom In Moments of Evil

No doubt many of you have been struck by the news of the execution-style murders of five young Amish girls in Pennsylvania. I have received numerous emails, telephone calls and comments from many of you asking why God allows these kinds of things to happen. The question of why evil exists in the world has been a stumbling block for nonbelievers and a test of faith for believers for centuries. From the Apostle Paul to St. Augustine to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Church has struggled with how we should respond to evil and how we can explain the apparent non-action of the God that we claim is omnipotent and sovereign. In that thousands of volumes have been written on the subject, a few paragraphs here will certainly not settle the issue.

For me, as a Christian, I understand God to be one who walks with us in the midst of tragedy, who understands our loss, as he watched his own Son tortured and executed by a world who followed the gospel of hate and not the Gospel of Love. I also believe that Christ continues to live in the world in the form of the Church, the Body of Christ. The question for me is not why a mighty hand from heaven does not stop evil, but rather, to what extent will the Body of Christ on Earth—the Church of Jesus Christ—be willing to give itself as Christ gave himself…even to a cross.

I know in this case, the reasons are complicated, mysterious and elusive. It is easy to boil everything down and identify the person or persons to blame: God, the government, the evil doer’s parents, but really the blame rests with the power of sin and evil in our lives and in culture. Our culture promotes a selfish propensity to shake our heads in disgust and then suppress the incidents of evil and injustice. Meanwhile, we grow increasingly anesthetized to both an unwillingness to take responsibility and our culture’s avoidance of investing the time, energy and resources to foster our families, churches and communities to be places of virtue and wisdom, the true meaning of Jefferson’s call in our Declaration of Independence to the right of the pursuit of happiness. It begins not in Washington D.C. or in the halls of justice, but in the most sacred of halls, your homes, our community, with me and with you.

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