Need We Remind Ourselves?
By Charles E. McCracken
Before evil can be confronted, it must be identified. While it seems like a no-brainer, there appears to be confusion in Western culture not only about what constitutes evil, but how to respond to it. Of special concern is the confused attitude toward evil increasingly evident in the Christian community.
Consider this: on November 13, 2015, terrorists unleashed a series of coordinated strikes at 6 locations in Paris leaving 132 dead and hundreds wounded. The following Sunday, a comment was made from the pulpit, “we need to fight the urge to be harshly judgmental of these people. They are, after all, made in the image of God and loved by Him too.” After verifying that I had heard correctly, my mind went immediately to the words of David, “you who love the Lord, hate evil!” (Ps. 97:10).
No cause is worthy of such cowardly attacks on innocent pedestrians leisurely walking down Rue Alibert or eating in one of the many restaurants along Rue de la Fontaine au Roi in Paris. These were despicable acts of premeditated evil.
Do we need to be reminded that detonating a bomb in a crowded theatre killing 89 and wounding hundreds more (100 critically) is evil, as is mowing down innocent people using AK-47s?
The same is true of recent incidents in Istanbul, Turkey as well as the coordinated assaults on Zaventem airport and the Maelbeek metro station in Brussels, Belgium. Only one word describes the murder of 35 unsuspecting people and injury to more than 300 others—that word is evil.
Although initially shocked by the violence, media personalities routinely contort the coverage to portray victims as perpetrators and perpetrators as victims leaving the public confused about how to define the evil actually committed.
Unfortunately, such acts of violence are not limited to the high profile incidents that receive extended news reporting. This has certainly been the case not only with regard to news coverage of Israel for decades, but also in the most recent spate of attacks upon Israeli citizens.
For the past 18 months, the people of Israel have been subjected to a barbarous onslaught of evil assaults that have been so numerous most are barely mentioned in mainstream news coverage, if at all.
The new wave of terror is unlike any threat to Israelis previously experienced. A terrorist with a concealed knife suddenly without provocation will assault an unknown person in line at the grocery store or walking down the street. Anyone waiting at a bus or tram stop is a potential target of a car ramming. Random shootings increasingly turn an otherwise routine moment into a frightening and tragically, often deadly event.
Since the beginning of the Jewish calendar year, 34 people have been killed and 411 wounded in 211 stabbings, 83 shootings and 42 car rammings in Israel. Statistically, during the last six-and a-half months, terrorists murdered some 5 people a month and injured around 15 daily.
One such murder victim, Dafna Meir, a 38 year-old mother of 6, was attacked in her own home and slashed to death in front of her children simply because she was Jewish. Need we remind ourselves that brutally murdering innocent Israelis is evil?
Christians are also experiencing a new and seldom reported persecution. The incident this past Easter Sunday is a graphic example, although it barely made the news. At a park in Lahore, Pakistan, Christians were gathered to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection with their families. During the celebration, a suicide bomber, wearing powerful explosives walked into the park and in the middle of a group of mostly women and children, detonated his bomb killing 74 and injuring 362. Horrified, I emailed a friend who lives in the area; pastors are attempting to minister to those affected.
Likewise, the world was horrified last October when eight Egyptian pastors were lined up on a beach in front of cameras and summarily beheaded in plain view for the whole world to see.
Amazingly, many Christians are unaware that since the beginning of 2016 more than 455 Christians have been murdered by terrorists in the Middle East, Africa, India and Pakistan. Terror groups have brutally crucified pastors, burned churches to the ground, massacred entire Christian villages and taken hundreds of young women captive as sex slaves for terrorist fighters. Do we need to remind ourselves that there is no justification for the evil perpetrated against innocent Christians?
RESPOND to EVIL
Recognizing evil is important, but the Bible clearly presents the proper response—“the fear of the Lord is to hate evil” (Prov. 8:13).
Evil must be countered. The cry of David is no doubt echoed in the minds of the many victims of ongoing and violent hostilities:
“Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?” (Ps. 94:16). (1)
Need we remind ourselves that in the face of evil, someone needs to stand on the side of those being victimized?
How different the course of history could have been if more “Corrie ten Booms” had acted to spare Jewish people the atrocities being committed by Hitler’s evil regime?
Denouncing evil is not about bitterness, vengeance or bigotry; but, there are real victims in these heinous acts. The victims are the innocent people wantonly murdered and maimed by ruthless and vicious killers. Perpetrators do not own a free pass; they are accountable. Ignoring, minimizing and otherwise allowing evil to continue unchecked is simply unjust.
The prophet Amos admonishes, “hate evil, love good; establish justice in the gate” (Amos 5:15). Justice demands that the evil thrust on innocent victims be challenged.
The nation of Israel has faced unrelenting terrorism and aggressive threats to its very existence since rebirth in 1948. Do we need to be reminded that standing with the Jewish people, who have been the target of numerous extermination attempts throughout history, is the right thing to do?
The New Testament admonishes, “Remember the prisoners [persecuted Christians] as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also” (Heb. 13:3). Yet, at a conference a few years ago, the director of a Christian organization bluntly confided to me, “talking about the persecuted church is a bit of a downer for me. I just don’t want to hear about it; and, I don’t think Christians want to hear about it.” Do we need to remind ourselves that for no other reason, Christians should stand as a voice of solidarity with the persecuted church because they are brothers and sisters in Christ?
Unfortunately, this apathetic attitude appears to be prevalent in the Christian community. While Jewish people actively speak out against the persecution of Christians around the world, the Christian community sits strangely silent. Christians living in the opulence and freedom of the West blithely intone that persecution is to be expected while deserting their brothers and sisters in Christ to face the evil of persecution alone.
Christians should not only draw attention to and denounce the evil perpetrated against fellow Believers, but also corporately pray that God would strengthen and deliver their brothers and sisters in Christ from the evil they regularly endure.
Yes, God is able to change hearts and deal with those perpetrating evil. There is a certain amount of comfort in that reality. As wonderful as that is, however, it does not negate the responsibility to be a voice denouncing targeted acts of evil that are becoming commonplace in the 21st century world.
For those who love God, confused silence is not an option. Those who hate evil need not be intimidated into silence. Be the voice of reason rallying those in your sphere of influence to speak-up and denounce evil being perpetrated against innocent victims.
The apostle John’s admonition to boldly stand against evil in the first century is just as valid today: “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 Jn. 4:4). Determine to make a difference at this moment in history because, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” (Edmund Burke, 1729 – 1797).
Charles E. McCracken is an international Bible teacher, long-time friend of Israel and advocate for the Jewish people. Rev. McCracken’s presentations are relevant for those seeking to understand the significance of Israel and the church in Bible prophecy. He staunchly supports the nation of Israel and the Jewish people’s right to exist and live in peace.
© Charles E. McCracken 2016, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. (Emphasis added.)
1) For related related Bible foundation, read: Psalm 37:27-29.
1) Edmund Burke (1729 – 1797) “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” (circa 1767 – 1769). By Joshua Reynolds (1723–1792) [PD-US, PD-Art], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolio
2) The Righteous Among the Nations Avenue, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem where Gentiles who chose to save their Jewish brethren from genocide during the Holocaust are honored. צילום:ד”ר אבישי טייכר [CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios)