Because there is evil in the world.
Connecticut governor, Dannel Malloy, said, “Evil visited Newtown today. . . .” “This is a problem of evil,” said syndicated columnist, Charles Krauthammer. “It is unimaginable the level of evil that rolled through this town today . . . These are five year old kids who are 10 days away from Christmas, believing Santa is coming to their home. Today, the devil came to this town,” said Bill Hemmer of FOX News. “In law enforcement you confront evil all the time,” spoken by a retired police officer on the news. “Unspeakable evil on display,” opined Bill O’Reilly of FOX News.
I’m sitting in my home watching the news as the reports of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut are played out in all of its ugly, devastating detail. In a phone conversation with a friend today discussing this tragedy, he commented that as a nation we refuse to accept the possibility of the existence of evil in our world. That caught my attention mostly because that is exactly what happens to us when we fail to remember that God took decisive action on behalf of the human race in addressing the presence of evil.
Christmas is a wonderful time when we sing carols, give gifts, and spend precious moments with family and friends. But the reason for Christmas? Christmas is God’s answer to the problem of evil in our world. “For God so loved the world (you and me) that he gave his one and only Son (Jesus), that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” It is because of the rampantness of evil that we look forward to celebrating Christmas. Why? Because Jesus, the Son of God, willingly came to die, thus paying the price for evil – what in the human condition is called sin.
As I watched the news I would hear different comments about this dastardly act. Expressions such as people are “trying to come to grips with what happened today.” Or this comment that really is foolish when you think about it: “We’re all trying to make sense out of this tragedy.” There is no coming to grips with this evil act. There is no way to make sense out of a senseless evil such as this. There simply is no understanding this wickedness.
Good and evil are rather loosely defined in our world today. Good is a nebulous term in its daily usage, often carrying a meaning of satisfaction with life, such as, “I’m having a good day.” Evil, on the other hand, is used only when the most heinous of crimes is committed, such as a Columbine, Virginia Tech, and now, Newtown.
Someone will say, “But we’ve always had these problems, you just didn’t hear about them.” Well, that’s simply not true. Such an evil action would have been the biggest story in all the newspapers in the country as far back as the 1700s. And with the advent of the radio and the telephone, such news would have quickly spread across the nation and the world. On top of that, it would not have been tolerated, because people were in fear of both the laws of God and the laws of man. At that time the laws of man reflected the laws of God. In the United States up through the latter part of last century you simply did not mess with children. And if you did, punishment was swift and sure.
In the days and weeks ahead there will emerge from the news a litany of reasons and excuses for this man’s devilish behavior in wantonly killing so many innocents. Already the groundwork for this is being set: “He’s autistic. He’s a sociopath. There was no father-figure in his life. He was on meds. He hated his mother.” All of this may be true, but what he did was evil nonetheless. Plus there are plenty of people who can say the same things about themselves, but they’re not out killing people because of it.
Any who had a perfect childhood, raise your hand. Okay, there are a few of you, perhaps. But the rest of us can point to plenty of unpleasant things that happened during childhood. This does not mean you become warped and demented, acting like a cold, heartless killer.
Here’s my point in saying that we do not want to admit there is evil in our world. It requires us to look into our own hearts and take inventory. The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure, who can understand it?”
Bill O’Reilly stated that there is evil in the world and there’s nothing we can do about it. Well, that just isn’t so. God did do something about evil. By sending Jesus into the world to be our Savior, he was sending Jesus into our hearts if we are willing to allow him in. Evil wants to lure us into worse and worse thoughts and behavior. Whereas God’s intent is to change us and conform us into the image of his Son, Jesus.
That’s the hope of Christmas: A heart and life changed by Jesus. It makes all the difference in the world!