This year, after much prayer and considering the resources I already own for doing a bible study over the coming year, I have felt led to slow down a bit and really chew on the gospels for 2013. So, yesterday I started on chapter 1 of Mark, since Mark is considered to have been written first chronologically of the four gospels.
I am not going to go into detail about how I am conducting my daily studies, but here and there I am sure I will feel impressed to share some things that God has laid on my heart and thus feel the need to put on my blog. I have to say, the ability to just chew on some scripture and think about it all day long as I do the rest of the things I need to get done through the day was a really welcome change of pace after this past year of very concentrated and dedicated writing.
In the study I started working on today concerning Mark 1, the author of the accompanying bible study I am doing, asked the following question: “What do you believe to be the role of Christians in confronting evil?” In my journal I wrote the following answer: “I believe we are called to expose it for what it is – evil. Unfortunately most of the world sees our human nature as inherently good and that there are just a few strange people who are weird and extremely evil and/or messed up. But no, we are all evil and we are all tainted with a pull to want to do evil and sin against God and our fellow man. Only with the help of the Holy Spirit can that evil be confronted and can we win over it. Only by being washed, regenerated, and renewed each day can we be truly free from the evil that desires to over take us – salvation in Jesus Christ alone allows us to live this way, free from the bonds of sin. Jesus alone is able to cast out the evil within us and allow us to live as 'good' and 'righteous', saved, free, unhindered, and perfected.”
I really spent a lot of time thinking over this question, even after I put my pen to paper and answered the question in my journal. The thoughts of what is going on in our nation, the tragedy which happened in Newtown, and the persecution that is happening in so many areas of the world against my brothers and sisters in Christ only confirms that evil needs to be exposed all the more, and we as Christians can no longer just sit back and consider that we are people who are generally good.
As I wrapped up my afternoon chores and took some time to finally look at the mail, from the pile I picked up our newest copy of World. As I was reading the article entitled “A town clothed in misery” about the Newtown mass-murders (and I have to tell you this is the first time since the shooting that I have allowed myself to actually read about the incident since I could not see the benefit of getting all caught up in the media hype that surrounded the tragic event) I realized the message the reporter was presenting in the article was exactly what I had written about evil in my journal this morning.
Here are a few excerpts you may find very interesting:
“Clive Calver...senior pastor at Walnut Hill...has approached Newtown as a mission field well before the shooting...Faith in this heavily academic culture is view with skepticism.”
“The comfort from the mainline churches in town was thin. Priest Kathleen Adams-Shepherd at Newtown's Trinity Episcopal Church told her congregation, according to USA Today, 'Try to see just a pinpoint of light, if you can. ...Jesus will come no matter what. And so will Santa. Amen.” At St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, the central church in town where 10 families lost children, the parish pastor Robert Weiss said, 'If we work together, good things can happen.”
My first thoughts as I read these quotes is that these people view humans as inherently good and just the shooter was evil. How sad when you consider how God looks at each of us, and how pitiful that this community is so blinded by what knowledge they hold in their heads instead of their hearts about what evil and good truly are. But in this community there is hope being preached by the pastor at Walnut Hill who continues to see his community as a mission field, and in Newtown Bible Church where pastor Parker Reardon preached the following words to his congregation the Sunday after the shooting.
“We are not adequate in ourselves, our adequacy is in God...People want to appeal to the inherent goodness of man. That's not what the bible teaches. We can't make sense of it that way...Man's condition is hopeless and helpless to save himself.”
If you have always seen yourself as 'good' or at least “good enough' and other people who do things like what happened in Newtown as evil, then what you believe does not line up with God's word. I think we would all like to feel 'good' or at least 'good enough' but then, what would be the bar for 'good enough'? If we were to set it ourselves, then that would make us a god...see my reasoning. Well, I will choose not to find reasoning in any of this, but rather just trust in the truth that the bible provides, that the Holy Spirit reveals, and the salvation that Jesus Christ alone offers me for my nature which which God calls inherently evil without Him.