“In order for evil to flourish, all that is required is for good men to do nothing.” That’s a loose quote from a long dead European Statesman, Edmund Burke. This guy may be pushing up daisies, but he got that one right. I don’t know of another sentiment he spoke, but this one is proving true at Penn State University today.
The Bible teaches us that there are no righteous people among us. “Not one”, it says. It also teaches us that apart from God we can do no .. good .. thing (John 15:1-8). So who is really to blame for the evils of one that have taken place at Penn State while others turned a deaf ear? Well, we know who is primarily to blame, but who else is culpable? Evil flourishes when good men and women turn their heads because to deal with evil up that close and personal can get ugly. Evil doesn’t just bow out quietly. Evil is up for the fight and doesn’t let go of a stronghold easily. (It’s not called a stronghold for nothing.)
As Christians we have to recognize that these evils are not going to grow less in number. Until Jesus has his triumphant return, Evil is in control here, and it is gaining ground. Maybe that’s why we choose to turn away from situations like this one. We figure it’s bigger than we are. What can we really do? We can shake our heads, think shame on them, talk about it among ourselves and decide what those other people should have done.
As evil gains ground in this world, our tendency is to build up walls around our own, and try to insulate our worlds from it as much as possible. But if we look at our example in scripture, we never see a time that Jesus walked away from evil. He could have. Yet as our best example, we see him time and time again confronting evil face to face and calling it like He saw it. In the end, evil killed Him for it. That’s our example. That’s love lived out.
I once heard the youth pastor at our church say this from the stage during a youth service:
“I hate the Devil. And I love Jesus.” ~Mark Pettis
It is our disdain for the evil one and our great love of the Savior that will motivate us to stand up in the face of evil and call it for what it is. That’s what causes us to move forward in the defense of righteousness with no thought of putting ourselves at risk to shed light on injustice.
I want to be the kind of person that loves enough to stand up for the weak. I want to be the kind of person that will face evil and call it for what it is. I want to raise children that will do the same. Still, we can’t be fooled into thinking that being a truth-teller will get us any accolades. I married a truth-teller. Quite often people aren’t ready to hear the truth truth-tellers have to tell. We say we want it, but so very often we really just want a very watered down, syrupy sweet version that doesn’t call us to act rashly or change radically anything. Just ask my husband; truth telling can cost you your job, relationships, and your security. Evil does not go quietly into the dark night when exposed. It will fight back.
But we can take heart! We have not been left defenseless in these things. We have all we need to be equipped for the battles we face. The Bible tells us that no weapon formed against us will prevail (Isaiah 54:17). It tells us that while evil doesn’t have to flee because we’ve arrived on the scene, at the mention of the name of Jesus, it does. Why? Because of love. Love is powerful. It was His great love for us that conquered death.
We can be equipped to face evil if we put on the whole armor of God. Ephesians 6:10-17 puts it like this:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
We can equip ourselves to face the evil around us. We don’t have to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear. We don’t have to circle the wagons and hunker down. We can face these giants, and we can prevail… one battle at a time.