9/11 – When Evil Is Left Unrestrained
Each week when I write my blogs, I type the date of the blog at the top left of the page. Today’s date: 9/11. Even typing that date brings back the memory of the exact moment when I learned about the terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of 2,996 people and injured an additional 6,000. Maybe you remember as well.
I was working in my home office in New Orleans, and Laura rushed in and said, “You’ve got to come and see this.” She had the TV on in the living room, and we both sat and watched in horror as the news played over and over the horrific scenes of what unfolded. Our kids were too young to remember, which is partially why I wanted to write about the need for us not to forget what can happen when evil is left unrestrained, and about the hope we have in Christ, in spite of the tragedies that befall us.
Albert Einstein is credited with saying, “The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.” We might not believe we can do much, but the greatest way to conquer evil is by the escalation of good.
You don’t have to be a believer in Jesus to demonstrate love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Some people actually are not far from the Kingdom of God as they reflect these Kingdom values. But consider that a believer in Jesus, with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, can be a direct channel to radiate this fruit of the Spirit. You might not be able to conquer the evil of a tyrant in South Sudan, but you can conquer the evil in your own heart so that you do not become a tyrant in your own domain.
There are two popular ideals that resonate with overcoming evil with good (Romans 12:21). The first is the “butterfly effect,” which simply means that what we do in small, seemingly insignificant ways can have an effect in far-away places. The second is the power of the starfish. You can cut off a leg of a starfish, but rather than killing the starfish, you have actually created a new starfish, as each leg has everything needed in its DNA to reproduce. This goes both ways. Evil can reproduce evil, but good can also reproduce good. The more we multiply goodness in the world, the less space evil has to occupy.
Lastly, regardless of the evil in the world, followers of Jesus are above all people with hope. We have a LIVING hope through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (1 Peter 1:3). In spite of what we face, God gives us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). Even when evil abounds, God opens a door of hope (Hosea 2:15).
We don’t sit around wringing our hands in despair, but “we labor and strive because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:10).
So, on this day of remembrance, may we remember the courage of heroes, the pain of victims, and the hope given to us all that ultimately, in Christ, we have overcome the evil one (1 John 2:13-14).