Today I want to tackle reactions to evil in the world. When Jesus walked the earth there was evil, injustice, mistreatment of people groups, and he faced hatred/mockery/mistreatment.
We see Jesus responding in sternness to the self righteous (Pharisees) and the disciples. We see compassion for those who were lost and not claiming to be right with God.
Jesus also has a one up on us. He was sinless. Jesus was willing to die for the same people He rebuked sternly. He was willing to be mocked, beaten, and even killed for the UNGODLY! Jesus died for His enemies. If Jesus rebukes someone sternly, He is perfect in His assessment and without any sin.
We can sin in our attempts to deal with people and be puffed up in ourselves while doing so. “Oh, I think sister Susie is wrong, let me grab my bible and go point it out to her.” Is it wrong to try to help someone? No. Yet the bible tells us to make sure we don’t have a big mega plank in our eye before we go trying to pull a splinter out of someone’s eye. We are also told to be gentle. We can be gentle, direct, and not nasty. Is it wrong as a leader to address people? No. Yet if we do not love them, our words can be correct and in the wrong spirit.
It is a trap of the evil one to convince us that we are the Holy Spirit or Jesus. We point to God. We do not become God.
It is a trap of the evil one to respond in the same spirit as the evil of this age. We overcome evil with good. If someone comes at us crazy, it does not mean God gives us permission to act crazy.
God has tested this in my life over and over. It appears as weakness to some people. Yet I do not need to yell or act crazy because someone approaches me with ignorance, hatred, evil, or nonsense. We can rebuke and address in great love understanding that the spirits of this age blind people to the truth of who God is.
They do not believe, because their minds have been kept in the dark by the evil god of this world. He keeps them from seeing the light shining on them, the light that comes from the Good News about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God,~2 Corinthians 4:4 (GNT).
Imagine going into a house and the lights are off and everyone is blind. Your method to help is to scream at them, “You are blind. You are in the dark!!!” Guess what, your screaming will not make them see. You can scream all day and it adds no value.
Imagine going to a graveyard and everyone is dead. You walk around screaming the Gospel at them. They can’t hear you! Dead people do not hear or see. The only reason a believer in Jesus can see or hear is because God opened blind eyes, deaf ears, and revealed Himself.
You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins,~Colossians 2:13 (NLT).
One of the ways we can help the world is by actually living a life that is a living testimony of the goodness, love, and power of God. I had several coworkers who were atheists, agnostic, or other faiths inquire about Jesus because of the way I acted at work. I did not bully them with the bible, point out everything they did that violated scripture, nor look down on them. I looked for ways to serve them, love them, and the topic of Jesus would just come up. One went to church because he said he could not figure out why I had so much joy. My Muslim neighbor said I was the only Christian he had encountered that did not mistreat him. One of my atheist coworkers hurt her back and because I did not mistreat her, she let me pray. God took all her pain away.
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children,~Ephesians 5:1 (NLT).
The world has heard our sermons. Have they seen Jesus through us?
Do we respond to evil with the Spirit of Jesus? Do we see people God loves and desires to redeem? Or are we like the Pharisees, our hands are full of heavy stones and we are crying out to God to punish them? I will tell you sin alone is great punishment. Without Jesus, people will have ledgers marked with every sin. Do we care about their souls or just the way they treat us?
We also don’t need to beat people up with the bible. I saw this old movie years ago called Saved. It basically mocked Christians for hypocrisy and improper methods of evangelism. I have included a very short clip of the groups attempt to lead Mary back to Jesus. This involves beating her with an actual bible. The Gospel is Not A Weapon . It’s worth watching! It is about 5 minutes long.
I am not stating we condone sin.
I am not stating we condone immorality.
I am stating the way we deal with people can be part of the determining factors on whether they turn to Jesus or run from Him.
I am stating if we don’t live what we claim to believe it impacts the world. All of creation is groaning for sons and daughters of God to rise up and shine bright (Romans 8:19-23)!
We do have a small role to play. If we are hypocrites, hateful, only love people who are a certain way, then we demonstrate to the world that our God is that way. It misrepresents Jesus to the world.
Let’s look at what Jesus said (Luke 6:32-36 (AMP)
If you [only] love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend [money] to those from whom you expect to receive [it back], what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners expecting to receive back the same amount. But love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; for your reward will be great (rich, abundant), and you will be sons of the Most High; because He Himself is kind and gracious and good to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful (responsive, compassionate, tender) just as your[heavenly] Father is merciful.
Expecting people who don’t know Jesus to act like Jesus, is like asking a person who cannot swim to compete in Olympic swimming. They can not. We cannot. Unless we have the Spirit of God we will not manifest the likeness of His character.
Honestly, I have met numerous people in my lifetime in churches who claim Jesus and look and act nothing like Jesus. I have had some of them yell at me, leave my fellowships, act hateful and nasty because I actually taught them what Jesus said. I could write a mega book on mistreatment from professing believers. Shouting “Praise the Lord,” on Sunday and gossiping about you on Monday. I will not even unpack the prejudice, jealousy, competing, pettiness, sexism, sabotage, and racism that I have encountered with professing Christians.
My point is as follows, to expect the world or people who do not know Jesus to flow in tune with God is unreasonable. It is also unfair if we (Christians) are not willing to submit to God to act in ways that actually look like God and then tell others they need God. It confuses the world when the Gospel we teach is not the Gospel we live.
How we react to evil is important. We do not condone it. We do not agree with it. We also do not stoop to low levels of conduct and act in ways unbecoming of Jesus to deal with it. If we were committing evil or out of line, how would we want to be treated? Would we want to be cussed out and condemned? Or would we want someone to say, “I love you and there is a better way?”
I love that even the rebukes of Jesus come because He longs for us to be right with God. Sometimes I think in culture its about us being right and not about the person being right with God.
Love is who God is and how He operates. I appreciate every rebuke and correction of God. Mainly because when God corrects it is to restore. When people do it, sometimes (not always), it is simply a critical spirit or pride. It lacks love, lacks compassion, and lacks tact. A critical spirit can seem like discernment, yet it’s not. God reveals to heal and so we can intercede or help. A critical spirit is rooted in pride and loves pointing out the flaws of others while rarely seeing it’s own flaws.
I am praying I walk in authentic Christianity. Rather than pointing the finger at others, I am asking God to help me walk out authentic faith. When people encounter me, I hope they walk away saying, “I want to know the God you worship,” not “Oh my gosh, get this person away from me. Whoever they worship must be a flake or a freak.”
I actually had a conversation with God Sunday about the way the church represents Him. I put myself in the shoes of someone completely unchurched. Would I desire Jesus just based on my encounters with believers over the years? Other than my parents and a handful of people, well, probably not. Yes, I have met some amazing people, yet as a whole (the summary of my life in Christiandom) have seen a culture that loves those who are already on the path better than the sinner. I would not feel comfortable as a way out there sinner coming into a community of faith. I would not feel comfortable as someone who was labeled liberal or alternative. I would not feel safe. How can I say this? Because I have spent my life in churches and seen the way “outsiders” are treated by a good chunk of people. The person can be a “get them saved project” or “be nice to them only at worship gatherings-ignore otherwise.” Gosh, I have encountered people who withhold love from other Christians because they go to another church or align with another political party. I have seen some pretty amazing believers too, yet as a summary-just my thoughts, we can do better.
I think we (I) can do better by abiding in Jesus (John 15:4-5). We can pray for revival all day, yet if we are not revived internally and begin to actually manifest Jesus, I do not think we will positively impact the world. I hear people chant, “They just need to get saved and come to the church.” Yet, how are we going to treat them when they get there? Is anyone going to mentor or disciple them? Is anyone going to genuinely love, invest, and treat them like Jesus would? We want these millions of souls to come to know Jesus and join our churches, yet have we learned to love the people already right in front of us?
Love is the highest standard. God speaks truth in love. The devil will tell the truth in the wrong spirit to hurt people or inappropriate times to create issues. If you don’t believe demons and the devil can speak truth, read the passages where demons cried out Jesus was the Son of God and He silenced them because it was not His time (Luke 4:41), or the slave girl who followed Paul around speaking truth from the wrong source (Acts 16).
Bottom line-we overcome evil with good.
Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good,~Romans 12:21 (CSB).