Once again in the aftermath of the mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas, we are forced to think about the evil that exists in the world today.
In the midst of the glitter and glamour that is Las Vegas, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd of concertgoers Sunday evening that has left at least 59 dead and over 500 injured. It is the deadliest mass shooting in our country’s history.
Paddock’s family is stunned. No one saw this coming. Or believed he was capable of such a horrific act.
The FBI reportedly is still trying to determine a motive. And, at this writing is sifting through the evidence, stumped at why this wealthy, retired real estate investor would commit such a horrendous act.
In a calm and compassionate statement, President Trump called this an “act of pure evil.” After offering his condolences to the families of those who lost loved ones and sympathy to the wounded, the President articulated a thought that comes to our collective minds following such a tragedy.
“In times such as these I know we are searching for some kind of meaning in the chaos, some kind of light in the darkness. The answers do not come easy.”
Yes, evil exists. That’s obvious. But explaining evil is more difficult.
In The Case for Christianity, C. S. Lewis wrote, “God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong, but I can’t. If a thing is free to be good it’s also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having,” Lewis also observed that evil isn’t an absolute; it needs good. It’s a parasite that rides on good.”
The Bible records the origin and spread of evil. Evil entered the world when Eve succumbed to Satan’s temptation to disobey God. Evil caused Cain to kill Abel. Abraham to lie. David to fornicate. Israel to worship Idols.
It was evil that killed Christ. The Pharisees and religious leaders’ hearts were filled with envy. Evil entered the heart of the betrayer who sold Jesus out for thirty pieces of silver. Evil weakened the resolve of Peter who denied his Lord three times. Evil witnesses were paid to perjure themselves. An evil High Priest circumvented the law. An evil court ignored justice. And an evil governor knew Jesus was not guilty.
Jesus said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matt 15:19) He called the devil “the evil one” (John 17:15). And the Bible teaches that the devil can enter our hearts to commit evil acts (John 15:2). Of course, we don’t have to submit to his enticements.
We have the power within us to accept good and reject evil. Moses reminded God’s people they had a choice between good and evil, blessing and cursing, and life and death. He challenged them to choose good so they could live and enjoy God’s blessing. (Deut 30:15-20).
Since Satan prowls around like a hungry lion, looking for prey, and recruiting those who would serve his evil agenda, we must be alert (1Pet 5:8) and guard our hearts with diligence (Prov. 4:23).
We can’t stop the chaos in our culture, but we can find God’s peace in our own hearts. We can’t eradicate the evil in the world, but in the midst of a “crooked and perverse generation” God’s people can “shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15).
Let us uphold the Word of life. May we “depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it” (Ps 34:14). Let us look for ways to extend a helping hand to those who need it. Offer hope. And pray for our strife-torn world.
Let us not “be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman