Don’t be defeated by evil, but defeat evil with good. Romans 12:21 (CEB)
I’ve started this post several times now…carefully thinking about how to effectively engage and introduce a topic that’s weighing heavily on my heart. I’m thinking about John Wesley’s mandate to Do Good, which my husband preached on this Sunday, and considering how my words might seek to uplift instead of tear down.
The truth is, I’m very angry at what happened in Virginia this week. I’m very concerned about the war mongering rhetoric that’s been passing between our nation and North Korea. I’m very sad that so many innocent victims cross paths with people intent on doing harm.
There is great evil in this world. Maybe it’s no more than there’s always been. Maybe it’s just amplified with our 24 hour news cycle and social media use. But I can’t help but feel that we’re standing on the precipice of a tipping point for humanity. If we take another step toward anger and hate; greed and self-centeredness, then we’ve let the worst of ourselves triumph. However, if we take a step back, away from anger, self-righteousness, instant gratification and the need for power, then maybe, just maybe, we can pull back from the brink of self-destruction. Maybe, just maybe, we can harness our passionate nature into works that create and sustain life rather than endeavors that destroy and diminish both the earth and other people.
Doing good is a conscious choice–a difficult one in the face of increasing hate and violence. Doing good requires us to stop putting ourselves first. Doing good means we have to take our time, effort, resources, talents, and even thoughts and use them to help make the world something better than it currently is. Doing good means that instead of complaining or criticizing, we do something to counter the negative we see around us. When everyone else says, “The world’s a terrible place!”, doing good means that we say, “Let’s make it better!”
I know that sounds trite. I know it’s an oversimplification of the needs in our world. I know that part of being a Jesus follower means speaking with a prophetic voice against injustice and oppression. But if we only speak out, and never act, then we just become more noise.
Jesus understood this need to do good. Jesus was born into a society that was violent and unjust. He spent his early years as a political refugee, and came home to a country that was occupied by a foreign power. Jesus witnessed acts of violence and hate. And yes, Jesus spoke out about the evil in the world. However, he also acted. He chose to feed, to heal, to teach, to encourage, to mend relationships. In short, Jesus chose to actively love others, especially those most victimized by society’s injustice.
Jesus told his disciples, “Be a light for the world. Do good, so that God will be glorified.” (Matthew 5:16) Do good…don’t just talk about it…do good.
Paul echoes this mandate in Galatians 6 when he writes:
Let’s not get tired of doing good, because in time we’ll have a harvest if we don’t give up.
Paul exhorts the Galatians to continue to do good, even though it doesn’t seem like it matters much. He reminds them that the world will not change overnight; however, in time (God’s time) the harvest will come.
No matter how eloquent or well-spoken we are, the world is not listening to our words. However, they may notice our actions. This is what Jesus reminded his disciples after Judas ran from the Passover meal, intent on handing Jesus over to the authorities to be arrested. Immediately after being betrayed by one of his closest friends, Jesus says,
But I am giving you a new command. You must love each other, just as I have loved you. If you love each other, everyone will know that you are my disciples. John 13:34-35 (CEB)
Jesus’ message and example could not be more clear. In the face of evil, we are called to love. And, how do we love? We give ourselves to others.
This week, I would challenge you to intentionally do good each day this week. Seek out one opportunity every day to show love in a way that brings honor and glory to God.
When the world speaks with hate and acts in violence, choose to speak in love and do good.
Blessings and Peace