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CONFRONTING EVIL

I was asked, "What is the best Christian response to the massive evil apparent in society today?" By this is often meant pornography, cheating, white-collar crime, etc. Here are my first thoughts.

First, we tend to divide the Body of Christ over this issue. If Party A decides to picket, and Party B does not, each is likely to question the sincerity of the other's faith -- and even their salvation. We use phrases which imply a higher spirituality for one or the other actions. We get in each other's faces. We trivialize Christ, and repel people from Him.

Historically, Christians have ranged from total non-involvement -- the Amish -- to outright warfare -- the Crusades. Personally, I am in the reformed wing in that I see Christ calling His people -- the Church -- to go into the entire world. However, I also consider that God "calls" different people to different things. I also see that we are to be, and function as, a Body with many parts but one Head. Finally, I consider the life of Christ an example that we should carefully consider as we decide what steps to take when confronting massive evil.

Thus, I suggest that we stop criticizing and instead help one another determine what are our call, gifts, life-experiences, and how those should then reflect themselves outwardly towards the world. This allows us to build one another up rather than divide.

Second, we tend, I fear, to make decisions in a personal -- and, too often, spiritual -- vacuum. We have drives within our deceptively wicked hearts and unregenerated corners of our minds that we do not recognize. So we make decisions without going through a process of seeking Godly counsel. "Godly counsel," to me, means a "multitude of counselors" -- Pro. 11:14. This does not mean calling three different persons, on three days, and trying to get help with a decision. It means getting three people together at one time, letting them all hear the same story, and inviting them to seek unity before the Lord. It looks more like Jas. 5:14. (See Confusion in Counseling)

Third, it means that the people I select as counselors must not be awed by me, obligated to me, or likely subverted by me. I need honest evaluation. If I find myself caught up in a conflict, it is likely that all those immediately around me are caught up in it too, to varying degrees. It is the same reason why I think churches in internal conflict need to go outside themselves for help -- even outside the denomination.

The fourth thing I look at in dealing with evil is that every thing we do, we are to do as unto the Lord. If I run for a political office, or engage in campaigning for some candidate, then I must do it "as unto the Lord." This means, at a minimum, that every action and every word must be kept captive. I must not be conformed to the world.

A friend called one day saying he felt the Lord was calling him to run for Judge. My response was, "Always remember that He called you to run, not win. If you run in the ways of the world, your victory will be sour and your soul polluted for the time of service." It is also like I Cor. 13:1 (my favorite verse to violate) -- we can know all things and speak with "the tongues of men and angels," but if we have not love we are mostly noisy gongs and clanging cymbals. And what happens to noisy gongs? They get silenced, sometimes very roughly.

We are told to make our defense with "gentleness and reverence" (I Pet. 3:15) -- gentleness towards our worldly opponents, and respect for those in authority (Rom. 13:1). One of the best Biblical examples is in the third chapter of Daniel.

Fifth, we must have no expectation that anything good will come from our actions. We are seed throwers, not tare harvesters. And we are ministers of reconciliation. By this I mean that we are calling people from sin towards God. Oh, we think we are running for the Legislature, but we are not. We are proclaiming God's Word -- and, hopefully, living it out -- so that individuals (not society) might repent and turn towards the Lord.

That phrase which I set off (living it out) is very important. If our daily life is not honoring to the Lord, it leaves our backside uncovered when we enter the battlefield. Do you remember a Christian who recently sought office, only to have an issue of his wedding date thrown into his face? That is what I mean.

Sixth, as Christians working together, we must value our relationship with one another more than political activity. Because I support Candidate A, and you support Candidate B, we may speak to one another our reasons and concerns -- but we ought to resist with the utmost strength dividing from each other over that matter. If we can, in the heat of real life, maintain unity in diversity, then we show the world the right message -- Jn. 17:19-21.

Therefore, I counsel against a single congregation taking up a political cause as a congregation. It inevitably leads to division of the camp. I also counsel that people in church leadership, when they decide to run for office, ought to resign their position so as to avoid creating a divisive offense within the congregation.

Seventh, we need to enter into these matters understanding that we will not, by our actions, usher in the Kingdom on earth nor stop (maybe even slow) the downward slide towards Armageddon. If we believe either, we will soon revert to force as our way to bring either result to be. Force is the way of the Gentile, not the way of the Lord.

Beware the temptation to believe that by and through the laws and legal systems of man we can protect ourselves and our religious freedoms. No law of man has ever, nor can it ever, stop a Christian from moving forward in the strength and power of the Lord. We do not need to play the games of the world, not seek the protection of the world. In fact, to the extent that we do so we will look like the world -- and the battle will have already been lost. (See the Law and Justice category of writings for several writings on this area.)

Finally, I take the Lord's words quite literally -- the world hated Him, it will hate us. The world persecuted Him, it will persecute us. The world killed Him, it will kill us. Expect to be required to comply with the rules of the world concerning campaigning, such as disclosing your identity and funding sources. In fact, be more open and honest in these matters than is the world. Expect to lose your tax exempt status, if you have one, by entering this section of the world. Expect legal retaliation -- lawsuits by individuals and concerted action by the government -- to impede you. Do not revile in return, or reply in kind, but keep going forward in trust upon Him Who judges rightly.

If I seek an office, and openly support every position I take with Scripture -- carefully thought out through the council of the saints, and quietly offered to a blind and deaf world -- I would have little expectation of winning the election. But if my actions are righteous before God, and if I am walking out His work for my life at the moment, then I do have the right to expect that God will bring some glory to Himself -- in His way, at His time -- although I see no fruit.