There's No Evil In The World?

As I was walking the dogs one morning I bumped into a neighbor who is often out with her dog at the same time. We struck up a conversation and I learned that she was once Protestant, then Mormon, then Muslim, and now rejects any form of faith that claims that evil exists in the world.  "There is nothing evil in the world; everything is good," she claimed.  I wonder what she might think if I had kicked her dog right there in front of her?  That sounds evil and the opposite of good to me, and probably to most people. 

As I think about her statement I see the distinction between, "There is no evil; everything is good," and the more popular statement, "I see the good in everything."  As Christians, I can confidently say we see the good in everything.  As we see anything evil in the world, and more specifically the evil (or sin) in our own lives, we should also be able to see the cross, where Jesus bore the wrath of that evil for us.  We should feel the weight of our evil and God's goodness as we come to know God's love for us despite the evil we personally bring into the world. 

Christians should also see the things of God's creation as good.  God did.  After God had created everything, including us, he called it "very good" (Genesis 1:31).  But we should equally be able to see how the good creation was utterly tainted and corroded by sin at the Fall described in Genesis 3 and our personal repetition of the Fall in our own lives.  To ignore the effects of the Fall is to look at the cancer-riddled world and call even the cancer good.  So I wonder how much anything can really be valued as good if things that are clearly not good are still allowed maintain that title?

Finally, as we see things intended for evil, we, like Joseph should have faith that things intended for evil can, and are often, used by God for his good purposes. (See Genesis 45.)  Things we may declare as evil from our perspective may actually be tools used by God for good, and we would do well to try to see this from God's prospective.  Job is a good demonstration of good coming from what appears as evil. I think about the atrocity of the Egyptians killing all the Hebrew baby boys, but through this evil, Moses' life was greatly shaped for God's good and greater purposes.  I'm reminded of the Assyrians and Babylonians that initiated the great exile of the Jewish people. And how could we overlook the evil, sin, and betrayal that surrounded the crucifixion of our Savior?  Saul, administering evil upon the Church, through the power of God became Paul, a remarkable church planter and theologian.  How about the destruction of the temple in AD70?  And we can take this all they way forward into our own lives today?

It is a grave mistake to say there is no evil.  It is tragic to call what is evil good.  Instead, we must be able to see the evil in the world and turn our focus to God who is the very one who can mortify the evil in our hearts, thus bringing the ultimate good into the world.

* The photo used in this posts is in the public domain.