How would you define the word “evil”? What does it look like to you? In our culture, many people like to throw the word around in jest. They may tell their close friend, “you are sooo evil” as they laugh. Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers movie is also a big joke.
In our generation, there can be this ethereal or even unreal sense of what that word really means. Some may hear the word “evil” or “devil” and their minds automatically go to the red suited little guy with horns and a pitchfork.
When we are used to “evil” being a joke, we are more than likely not going to take the threat of it seriously in our own lives.
We will keep thinking that it is “out there somewhere” rather than near us, and even plotting our demise.
Greg Boyd, in his book “God at War” has said,
Evil can never be properly discussed in the abstract. We must always have concrete examples of evil before us if our discussion is truly to be about evil and not just the possibility of evil.
As I was discussing this with a friend of mine, he mentioned some of these concrete examples that he has personally encountered.
Being a veteran missionary living and working in Thailand, he has seen examples of evil’s influence, not only in the lives of the Thai people, but even in the lives of those who come to minister to them.
- The short term missionary who succumbs to temptation sleeps with a prostitute then returns home only to later find out that he has contracted HIV/AIDS.
- The girl who went to the bar alone to reach out to prostitutes, eventually falls for one of them, becomes a lesbian, and turns from God.
- The married man who goes away to minster in a village, “falls in love” with a local woman, leaves his wife and kids and goes “native.”
- The teenager of a missionary who gets in with the wrong crowd and ends up living as a drug dealer and mafia type.
These are real life stories that have happened to real people working in Thailand and they are just a couple of many. Some of the other stories (yes, there are more) are even more horrible, if you can believe that.
So, why do I even mention these examples?
Because I am sure that you have your own “concrete” examples of evil, even similar to these stories, right there in your own back yard.
Yet when it comes to our own lives, we can convince ourselves that we are immune. When we think of “evil” and its manifestations, we think of something other than the “concrete.” But if we thought about it for a minute, we would easily be able to find some very personal examples of real evil that we have encountered.
None of us are automatically immune.
That’s why the Scripture tells us, “Be sober, Be vigilant for your advesary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he MAY devour.” I Peter 5:8
If you admit it, when you hear this verse your mind doesn’t immeditately go to the “concrete” example of this real threat.
It goes first to the abstract. It goes to the rational, not the supernatural.
Jesus even tells his chief Apostle, Simon Peter, “Satan has desired to sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for you Simon that your faith may not fail.” Luke 22:31-32
This is serious business.
We are in a real battle with real enemies that seek our lives. Jesus calls our common enemy “the thief” and says that his only reason for coming is to “steal, kill, and destroy.” John 10:10
Yet we have been promised protection and grace as long as we choose to walk in it. (see Psalm 91). We still need to have our spiritual armor on daily, praying always. (see Ephesians 6). We still need solid boundaries in our personal lives that help us steer clear of compromising situations. We need community and accountability to help us stay grounded.
Finally, we need to keep some “hits close to home” examples in our minds to help us rightly define evil so that we can see it when its coming.
What do you think? How does this hit close to home for you?