If there is one subject that is single handily the most important topic that we will cover it is this: Evil.
A short week ago I read a story in the news about a Toronto schoolteacher who was travelling abroad in Costa Rica. This man woke up early one morning with his heart set on capturing the beautiful sunrise that adorns Costa Rica’s cost lines. Upon leaving his residence, he let his travel companions know where he was heading, a safety measure we should all use when traveling abroad. Fast forward to the events that would later ensue; his body found in the middle of the street with all of his camera gear and belongings missing – the man was murdered in cold blood in a senseless act of violence by two individuals, yet to be detained. The outpouring of mourning and comments for this man would come through once the news reached home in Canada, with former students attesting to his ability to connect with them on a meaningful level. May this man rest in peace.
Have you ever wondered why it is, when horror, tragedy, suffering, or any like situation happens to us, how we often seek to understand why such evil and injustice exists in this world? Whats interesting is how we, as humans, tend to desire to know how evil can happen so frequently in a world that we expect to be and classify as good.
The belief in evil first assumes that human life has essential value; why else would we care if there is evil? It wouldn’t matter. Yet evil cannot exist on it’s own. Steiger defines evil as, “the corruption of good” and further states that, “evil cannot exist unless good first exists”. If evil then assumes that life has essential value, and evil cannot exist unless good first exists, this implies that your very personhood matters in a world where both good and evil both abound.
The predicament that we are faced with is reconciling how to live in a world that is transcendently good and yet, deal with the evil of this world.
Jesus gives us a good starting point to consider in this juxtaposition.
In Luke 23 we witness Jesus’ last few hours of his fleshly ministry. Upon being deceived by one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Jesus is arrested and handed over to the Roman Prefect with no evidence to support his arrest. During this time Jesus is mocked, ridiculed, spat on, flogged and beaten by the Roman guards. Prefect is then forced to order Jesus’ crucifixion in an effort to avoid his own demise and rioting by the people. From this moment on, Jesus drags his cross to his ultimate fleshly death. This is where Jesus teaches us the lesson of reconciling evil: in the last few moments on the cross still being ridiculed Jesus cries out, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing”.
What we can learn from our Costa Rican news story and Luke’s testimony is twofold. Here we witness evil and the self-serving desires of people come to fruition. We see that people have a choice and it’s by their freewill to choose to act out in a vial manner in order to preserve their own evil desire. It was evil that was conceived in the hearts of men. In Luke 23, Jesus knew this and in an ultimate act of humility his last words were that of forgiveness for the very people whom ordered his crucifixion.
We’ll continue to explore this further in our next post.