The Face Of Evil

Over the last few weeks the world has come face to face with an absolute evil known as the group ISIS or whatever it is we are calling it now.  As I write this, word has come that another person has been beheaded by this so-called group of religious fighters.  I have not watched, nor do I recommend that you watch, the videos of these three murders, as they are very gruesome.  It is very difficult to not hate the people who are doing this but, as Christians, that is exactly what we are called to do, not hate.

In a recent speech, Vice-President Biden spoke of these “evil people” and that we have to follow them to hell because that is where they belong.  I can certainly understand the sentiment and I support the effort to fight back, but Mr. Vice President…people are not evil – their actions are – but people are not evil.

I have written of this countless numbers of times but it bears repeating.  All of humanity is created in the image and likeness of God and as such humanity is created fundamentally good because God is good.  Evil is not something that comes from God but is a creation of this fallen world and the sinful nature and corruption of humanity.  I am not writing this to excuse the behavior of people – far from it – but to show that at our core we are good people and that evil is something that we are taught.

I cannot begin to understand the mind of people who are willing to do this but it all stems from a corruption of, and a zealous belief in, a religious thought.  It seems to be the right thing to do, in some minds, to brand all followers of Islam as terrorist and radicals and that is simply not the case.  I do believe, as an Orthodox Christian, that Islam is wrong and that Jesus is the only way, but the corruption of religious thought for evil purposes, any religious thought, is just simply wrong.

This radicalization of religious thought comes from hatred and intolerance of people who are and believe differently than they do.  They see it as their job to rid the world of this “wrong belief” and purify the earth.  The only place that this comes from is from the evil one.  Every life is sacred and the taking of a life, for any purpose, goes against the plan of God so the cleansing of the infidel cannot be from God.

Hatred is, plain and simple, evil, and we have to be ever-vigilant to not let it invade our spiritual lives.  What we are witnessing in the Middle East is the direct result of what hatred can do to a person on a physical and spiritual level.  Hatred blinds us to the truth and to the ultimate goodness of humanity and causes us to act in an irrational way.  We have to be on guard against hatred less we fall into the same trap.

However, with that said, there is a difference between hating the sinful actions of people and hating the people who are perpetrating the sinful acts and this is true with any sinful action.  I do not think that the members of the Westboro Baptist Church rise to the level of ISIS but they have been used as an example of Christian radicalism and a misapplication of Christian teaching and I will use them as an example as well.

What we see in these protests is a complete misunderstanding of the message of Jesus to love your neighbor as yourself.  They have taken the message of love and turned it to a message of hate.  The venom that is spewed is the same venom that was spewed at Christ as He was led to His crucifixion. It is very easy to point your finger at someone else all the time missing the sins in our own lives.  It is easy to engage in hate speech, be it white supremacy, anti-Semitism, anti-Arab or whatever it might be rather than engage in conversation that could lead to an understanding.  Tolerance is a funny word that extends in both directions and what we are called to is a sense of toleration, not acceptance, of other people and their behavior.  Jesus was very tolerant of everyone, even those who eventually crucified Him, but He was not accepting of their behavior and He never hated and that is the message of the Gospel – love.

Love of one’s enemy is one of the hardest things we are called to do as Christians but it is necessary for our spiritual well-being and, I believe, the mark of a mature Christian.  It is not easy, and takes much prayer and guidance from a spiritual parent, but if we hope to live a balanced spiritual life then we have to do it.  It is time that we as a Christian community turned our attention toward prayer and away from hate; hate is easy – love is difficult.

We as a nation have to act. We have to protect ourselves and others from evil and sometimes that means the use of our military to do so.  My prayer is for those who will be sent into harm’s way and for those who will be caught in the middle.  May we use our military might for justice and for protection of the innocent.

1 Comment

  1. In your article The face of evil, you stated that it seemed to be the right thing to do , in some minds , to brand all followers of Islam as terrorist and radicals and that is simply not the case. I don’t think all Muslims are terrorists but it does seem that of the Muslim religion you have the terrorists and then you have the general population of Muslims who either openly condone it or are silent about it which gives an impression of condoning it. And I know people who are from areas of the world where they lived around Muslims and they know first-hand that Muslims generally don’t treat Christians very well. And there is a long history of Muslim aggression to about any-one who they are around . Also, there’s a good chance that Europe would nowdays be Muslim if not for the Crusades beating them back. Any thoughts or advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks, Steve

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