Just last week, a husband and wife used the above SUV in killing 14 and wounding 21 people in San Bernardino. ISIL, or ISIS, or the Islamic State, or Daesh, who "inspired" these two, for all of its faults, establishes the reality that evil exists, and abounds. Charlie Hebdo. The France train attack. Paris. San Bernardino. And more. Much more.
Yet we face a greater temptation than that presented by terrorism--believing that evil is just "out there. Yes, it does, but evil also lies closer to home. Very close. Followers or seekers of Jesus cannot afford to attack evil out there and ignore the evil in here. In each of us. OK, most of us don't obtain weapons and go on killing sprees. But evil, in any form, reveals its evil nature in destruction, often on a smaller scale.
The key to my reasoning comes from a simple definition of evil: sin. "Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires" (Romans 6:12. Sin and evil are linked. Less than good. Less than what God desires for and from us. Often, merely doing what we desire above what God desires.
"Everything that does not come from faith is sin" according to the apostle Paul in Romans 14:23. That verse frightens me deeply. I do a lot without ever thinking: does this express and expand and exemplify my faith? So, even if the act is good, it can be evil because my motives don't flow from my faith.
Honestly, this evil within me, and you, and all of us, frightens me much more than worldwide terrorism. Terrorism can kill my mortal body, but not my immortal soul. The evil within me does touch my soul. When I respond with rudeness to a rude waitress, my spirit shrinks just a bit from the God of love. When I keep extra change from a checker, my intimacy with the God oftruth decreases just a bit. When I resist forgiving, or when I don't ask for it, I move slightly away from the God of grace.
Now, don't go overboard and think that one sin will send you to hell. But likewise, don't ignore that acting on evil desires is sin, which is antithetical to God.
This Christmas my goal--for my life--is to identify and eliminate or at least decrease those evil tendencies and thoughts and acts. I encourage you to do the same. Don't ignore the evil out there, as symbolized by ISIS, but focus on the evil in here. In us. We can do something about that one.
Kick Starting the Application
Take a moment or so of thoughtful meditation and prayer to identify any evil tendencies you have. Big or small. Why have these gotten into your life? Which seem the easiest to change? Why? The hardest, and why again? I suggest you begin this process by working on the hardest--they bring the most damage to our closeness to God. And, try to share your journey with someone you can trust.