The Evil Within

By Rev. David Wilson Rogers |  November 16, 2013

            Christianity is a fundamentally communal religion. Jesus Christ calls us to live in community together in the sacred unity of the Body of Christ. The Bible’s rich illustrations of how the Body lives and works as one in 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, Romans 12, and Colossians 3 are vivid examples of the priority of Christians to live in communion with one another.
            That is easy to say. Frequently, however, we find that living in community is significantly more difficult. Anyone who has been through a church fight knows what this is like. Individuals within a given church or denominational tradition may become deeply entrenched in ideological, theological, or religious matters for which there is no turning back, backing down, or negotiation. The unavoidable result is that community becomes fractured, people become wounded in the process, and the Body of Christ suffers.
            Our world is filled with good and evil. There are forces at work in our world that are bent on destruction and promulgate the ungodly forces of evil in our midst. As real as evil is, however, many times Christians unintentionally buy into a dangerous lie regarding evil. We believe that evil is “out there” in the world and expresses itself in non-believers or other people and our job is to fight that evil with every fiber of our Christ-centered lives.
            It is a lie! Evil does exist and there are certainly people outside of ourselves that are bent toward undermining, destroying, and discrediting the power of the Gospel in this world. Yet, this belief, when focused only outwardly from the Christian into God’s world, denies a very real truth that all Christians must prayerfully face. Frequently the most dangerous evil comes from within the believer.
            Jesus touches on this point in Matthew 15 where he teaches that the measure of a person’s spiritual authenticity is measured by the integrity of what comes from that person. The contrast is simple. Forces of evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander, and similar destructive behaviors indicate an evil within.
            The New Testament exemplifies these dangers of evil within in the book of Galatians. When living in the true Spirit of Jesus Christ, the 5th Chapter reminds us, we must be consciously aware of, and intentionally avoid the very behaviors that rip at the sacred fabric of community. Galatians calls them “works of the flesh” but they are nothing more that expressions of the evil within each of us that, when allowed to dominate, will only reap devastation.
            The 2nd and 3rd Chapters of 1 John address the issue quite directly. Anyone who claims Christianity while acting out of the evil within, reflects not Jesus Christ, but only evil. It goes on to say that as one anointed by Christ it is our sacred and prayerful responsibility to live out of the grace, love, peace, and blessing that is Jesus Christ.
            So often, in Christian circles, we do such a powerful job of defining the evil around us and pronouncing hateful judgment against that which we very righteously know is wrong, it is easy to turn a blind eye to the imperfections within and actually wield evil as a hateful weapon out of our desire to defend Christ. Yet, in doing so, the result is not Christ’s defense, but an assault on the spiritual integrity and sanctity of the Body of Christ. The very community of Jesus Christ to which all Christians are called to belong is lost in the unchecked evil of our hearts.
            Christ calls us to love as he first loved us. Anything short of God’s love runs the danger of enticing our deepest fears and unleashing the volatile evil within.