A friend once shared her dilemma with me. She had a beautiful backyard – a sanctuary really. Flowers bloomed everywhere, and the canopy of the trees offered welcome shelter from sun and rain. It was a most welcoming place. And tucked away in the corners were bird feeders, because my friend loved birdsong. The feeders were always visited by feathered friends that would find safe haven and good treats.
But the feeders were also a perfect target for squirrels. She tried everything to keep the feeders safe. She moved them, restricted their access with all kinds of contraptions, spent hundreds of dollars on guaranteed, patented “squirrel proof” products, doused them with repellents. But nothing worked. No matter what she attempted – even if it looked as if she had won the battle – the squirrels would eventually trump her.
In frustration, my friend sought the advice of an expert, who told her, “You see, you only think about those squirrels when you’ve caught one in the feeder, or they’ve eaten all your birdseed. You’re only bothered by them when they bother you. But those squirrels – there is nothing more important to them than what you offer. They don’t care about you. All they care about – all they think about – is getting to that birdseed.”
And so it is with evil. We only think about evil when it disrupts us. When it treats us poorly. When it affronts our good name. When it smears 140-character filth across our phones. When it leaks into our homes through big screens. Or when it boldly storms into our lives and steals, kills, and destroys – when it crashes through our walls or rips through our flesh or shatters us like the most fragile of glass.
And we try, God knows we try, to protect ourselves from evil. Like my friend’s backyard, we want our worlds to be a welcoming sanctuary. We move our families to safer communities, move our children to private schools or homeschools. We monitor computer-generated lists of people who might be unsafe for our world. We join neighborhood watch groups and train our employees to watch for suspicious activities. We lobby and legalize and legislate in a desperate attempt to make things easier for the good guys and impossible for the bad guys.
We want guaranteed, patented solutions to make our worlds beautiful on the outside. Our efforts are honorable. But the dilemma remains. Evil is still with us. It doesn’t care about our efforts. It isn’t sympathetic to our trying.
We can’t destroy it. We can’t evade it.
Perhaps it’s because we’re looking at evil as inanimate. When evil lives and breathes in a broken world filled with broken people. Even people like you and me.
Perhaps it’s because we’re looking at solutions like spreadsheets. When real hope lives and breathes in a broken world filled with broken people. Even people like you and me.
Perhaps, just perhaps, it’s because we want to deal with evil’s impact, rather than come face to face with evil’s intent.
The mystery of evil is a declaration of war on the peace of God’s creation. ~Russell Moore
Peace. Evil’s intent is to kill, steal, and destroy peace. But not peace in the way we define it. Not peace in a simple, surface “absence of problems” way, but in a “complete, perfect, and whole” way. Evil’s goal is to blind us to the fact that we are created in the image of God, designed for relationship with Him. Evil’s purpose is to make us forget Whose we are as we define who we are. Evil finds its insatiable happiness in watching us stumble like fools, grasping for anything that might make things right – rather than clinging to the One who rights all things, who knows us intimately and offers peace that has form and substance and depth beyond measure. Complete, perfect wholeness found in a Person. Messiah. Prince of Peace. Jesus the Christ.
The government will rest on His shoulders. And He will be called: Wonderful Counselor,Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. ~Isaiah 9:6-7
I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world. ~Jesus (John 16:33)
This Christmas, as we look for peace, I pray for Peace. For you and for me.