When you see news reports about devastating events happening around the world, how can you not cry out for help? Why does it happen? Why does evil continue? There are many answers offered to these questions. We seek answers because we all ask the same question. Why?
When asked what he thought was the greatest commandment of God, Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31, NIV)
The question, “What is the greatest commandment?” is really a question of “How can the world be perfect?” When God gives a command, it is never to oppress humanity. The Bible presents God as a loving, caring Father only wanting what is best for the people he created. God gaves us rules because sin entered the world (through people’s own choice!) turning every person’s heart inward and downward instead of outward and upward. The rules He gave were meant to remind us that evil exists and must be avoided, but also to give us boundaries to keep us safe from the clear and hidden dangers present in the world. The fact that each one of us breaks these rules is meant to teach us that we are in need of a Savior.
Why do bad things happen? Because the person who committed the evil stopped pursuing a love for God and a love for neighbor. Lest you think only certain people stop loving others, personal experience is clear that we all do it to some extent or another. Not everyone will sink to the depths of hatred, but we all will experience a spark of hatred against our God and our neighbor from time to time. If we aren’t watchful, that spark will turn into a blaze destroying our soul and blinding us to the love of God made free to us through the work of Jesus Christ.
The Way of Jesus is the way out of sin and hatred. The way to combat evil in the world is to intentionally pursue the Way of Life as lived and exemplified by Jesus.
Where else would you turn? What is lacking in Jesus’ teaching? Jesus taught to love your neighbor as yourself. He acted in love toward his enemy even as his enemy nailed him to the cross. He showed his audience that seeking God is a good thing with good results; not a blind religion of self-hatred and exclusion. Do followers of Jesus get this wrong? Yes! But does a Christian’s mistake prove Jesus wrong? No! Jesus expected that each one of us is a work in progress. He accepted everyone without reservation, he loved unconditionally, and forgiveness is free for the asking. Each of us is a work in progress. Jesus is calling anyone who will listen to start the progress by joining him in walking the Way; His way.
As you encounter evil in your community, remember Jesus. As you cry out in sadness, also rejoice in praise for the great God we have. He has not abandoned nor will he forsake those who trust in him. Do you want war to end? Follow Jesus. Do you want love to reign? Follow Jesus. Do you want crime to cease? Follow Jesus. If everyone were intentionally following Jesus and trusting in God, the world would immediately be a better, more loving, and safer place. Whenever anyone fails to love God and their neighbor (and we all do it) is when evil spills out.
It’s your choice. You want to stop evil from ruining your life? Then start walking in the Way of Jesus. You want your neighbor to change direction? Then start loving them as Jesus loves them. Be involved, be intentional, be resolved to learn how to love God and love others as Jesus did. Don’t cry out in despair, rather look to Jesus and sing along in hope!