"He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." ~Jim Elliot

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Overcoming Evil: The Human Condition and Cure

I was planning on doing something else at the time of this post, but something is disturbing me tonight. Allow me to give a bit of a background.

A Human Example
Since the big move to Arizona, it has been a blessing to read more - books, blogs, and media. I have also been able to keep up with the news quite a bit more than I did in Indiana, and recently there was a story that caught my attention; tonight I followed the trial resulting from the incident. If you're not able to cope with seeing malice as well as others may be, I'll explain below. Do please take warning; this is video is hard to watch. 

So in summary, as best as I understand the situation, one 12-year-old refuses drugs from two 15-year-olds then tells a teacher. Those two 15-year-olds, along with one other, beat up the kid in the bus.

The Human Response
1. Anger at cowardice. Even from a foolish perspective - if you beat a 12-year-old kid up and it takes you bringing two of your buddies into it when you're 3 years older than the little kid, you're a spineless coward.
2. Anger at malice. Hating someone enough to extensively harm them physically is unnerving. I don't get it.
3. A desire for justice. This should never be ignored or excused. Appropriate measures should be taken for protection of the victim and punishment of the guilty.

The Human Tendency
The one man who spoke up from the trial was the father of Julian McKnight, one of the offenders. And what did he say? "I'm so sorry my son behaved dishonorably and violently"? No:

"We're sorry about what happened to the victim, but that's just the way it is. You know, my son ain't no bad person. You know, he just got a little mixed with bad people, that's all... He's sorry."

Meanwhile, Julian did not say he was sorry. He didn't say anything.

The Human Condition
Sir, I am glad to hear that your son isn't a bad person. Even though he repeatedly kicked and punched a younger kid and broke the kid's arm, it's at least a comfort to know he's not horrible deep down on the inside.

Is this the response? Your kid isn't a bad person, but someone else's is? That's the explanation?

No - I am sorry - your kid is a monster.

But Before We Throw Any Stones...
Much more could be said, but you get the point. You feel the anger that I did when I heard this story. But let us not park on that anger and point fingers forever because much more can be seen here. Much more can be seen in all of us.

Julian McKnight and his two culprits are not the only monsters in this world. They are only an example of the monster in all of us. Remember the story of the adulteress in John 8:1-11? She was caught red-handed. The Law demanded justice. The Pharisees were ready to deal out the punishment. But before they did, Jesus gave one statement that would shake their entire view of social justice: "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her" (8:7).

I know this isn't adultery, but does this saying not capture the essence of the human condition? When something like this happens, we are so quick to become angry and pick up the stones to throw. My friends, that is not justice - it is revenge, bitterness.

The people over us will deal with justice (Rom. 13:1). God will bring this horrendous act to judgment on the final day. But a desire for revenge - the poisonous desire in me to take my friends and gang up against one of them - is only a worsening of the situation. So imagine that horrible feeling you have in your stomach doubling. That is what our bitterness accomplishes. We cannot overcome evil with evil.

But God's compassion and grace are deep enough to cover all, to cleanse the vilest of sinners - even Ninevah, even Saul, even Julian.

Romans 12:19-13:1
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.
"But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head."
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.

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