I live off of a main road in a busy town; so everyday I naturally hear firetrucks, ambulances, and police cars race past my house with sirens blaring. Every time I hear them, I respond differently. Sometimes, I would rush outside to see where they are going. But most of the times, I ignore it. I see myself as not being able to help or distant from the situation.
This is my natural human response to situations. I tend to ignore them. But this natural response wasn’t enough for me when I turned on the T.V. or opened the newspaper to witness the great evils that have recently occurred in our nation this past week. My future home of Boston was attacked during a joyous event. Abortion doctor, Kermit Gosnell, stands on trial for killing babies right out of the womb. A mysterious letter poisoned with ricin was sent to the White House. And a factory explosion rocked West, Texas.
There is evil in the world. After living through this week, there is no denying it. I might want to deny it by ignoring what happened, but the catastrophe of this week tugged on my heart for a different response to these evils.
Eleanore Stump, a philosopher on religion from Saint Louse University, touches on different reactions to evil in her article “Mirror of Evil.” After recently reading this article, I realized that her observations on the responses to evil are echoed within Scripture. Stump was able to so adequately call out human nature, but then point to a truth greater than herself. It was this truth that grounded me on how I should approach this recent outpouring of evil. Here are four things I learned in how we should confront these evils:
1. Don’t turn away
For the Gosnell trial, the media decided to turn a cold shoulder to the situation, leaving us concerned citizens out of the loop. This was the media’s attempt at turning away from the situation. But when this happens, we fail to bring light or justice to the problem at hand.
I see this response echoed in Scripture when Peter denies Christ after His arrest (Matthew 26:69-75). Peter wanted nothing more than to forget what happened and keep moving on. But he was consistently approached about the situation. In the end, Peter realized that he had betrayed Jesus, and he wept.
What would have happened if Peter didn’t turn away like he did? What if he stood by him being with Jesus and then proceeded to tell people about Jesus? There’s no certainty of knowing what would have happened if Peter did this, but I believe that a lot more people would have heard about Jesus, and probably could have done something about the situation.
2. Don’t obsess over it
Many of my friends on social media put a spotlight on the evil and cried out about it. This is good, but only to an extent. When we obsess over the evil, we usually become stagnant in what we do about it. And in our complacency, we also drag others down by convincing them to also focus on the evil. The situation then becomes more about us rather than enacting a solution to fix the problem.
Judas was somebody who obsessed over the evil in Scripture (Matthew 27:4-5). When he realized that betraying Jesus was wrong, instead of trying to fix the problem, he goes and hangs himself. How would the situation have looked like if Judas stepped up instead of obsess over the evil to the point where he couldn’t deal with it anymore?
3. Don’t try to distance yourself from the problem by drowning it out
I had a friend who posted on Facebook that they were going to drink away the sorrow of the Boston bombings. My first response to that post was why even put that on Facebook? That post did not help anybody. And that is what the problem of trying to drown out the evil by doing something else is. We try to distance ourselves from the situation by doing something that is of no help to others.
When Pilate delivered Christ to be crucified, he asked the crowd why they want to crucify an innocent man (Matthew 27:23-24). The crowd gave him an answer, but instead of refuting their answer, Pilate washed his hands and said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” Pilate distanced himself from the situation and went to busy himself with something else.
But what would the situation have looked like if Pilate fought against the crowd and saved Jesus instead of going to do something else?
4. Become the good
Though I was away from the Boston bombings, I was deeply encouraged to read in the newspapers and on social media about the heroic acts of those stepped up in a time of danger. Though I wasn’t involved in the manhunt that raged on afterwards for the bomber, I was greatly satisfied to read of his arrest. Though I wasn’t personally involved in the Gosnell trial, I was pleased to see people expose it for the evil it is. And though I didn’t see the factory explosion in Texas, I was elated to find people praying over the situation.
In the midst of evil, we are called to become the good and bear good fruit in our response to that evil. It is in becoming the good that we overcome the complacency of the past three options. By doing this, we become like Jesus in the situation. It was in Jesus bearing the evil of the cross and rising from the grave after three days, that the responses of the past three options were eradicated.
Jesus is who we should strive to be in these situations. Not Peter, not Judas, not Pilate, but Jesus. It was in Jesus confronting the problem of evil that a humanity was restored. And there is still something we can learn from His heroism today. Jesus teaches us that we are not to be complacent about evil. Instead, we should try to become all that is good in the situation. In doing that, we have all the power necessary to restore what breaks in our society.