Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Just Imitation Evil

Dear Friends,

Maybe you saw this on the news last Sunday. A few weeks ago, a 26 year old man crossing the street just a few hundred feet from my house was hit by a black BMW racing around the corner. It was a hit and run. He was found lying on his back after being flung into the air. Covered with blood. Unable to shout, he moaned, “Please help me” to some passing horseback riders who at first did not see him by the side of the road. They called the paramedics who took him to the hospital where he died last Thursday. What was illegal was that the driver didn’t stop. What was immoral was that the driver didn’t help the person he hit. What was evil was that neighbors heard a “celebratory yell” from the driver after the impact as he burned rubber to speed away. A celebration of your own evil when you think you’ve just killed someone? Is it just me or are you also becoming tired of the pervasive wickedness that is suffocating our Nation today? And now it’s once again time for our October “fun-filled” celebration of evil. Is this right?

Some of the images of the Las Vegas shooting have been burned into my mind. Bodies scattered throughout cluttered debris. Two young women lying together in death. Blood running down their legs. Descriptions from the survivors tell of puddles of blood everywhere. We don’t know the shooter’s motive. We just know this was truly a most evil act no matter what his rationalization was. And, it’s now time to celebrate evil on Oct 31st when front yards will be decorated with “dead bodies” laid out among the clutter of props. Covered with blood. And yes I do know what some of you are thinking. “Oh but that’s not one and the same, Pastor! You’re comparing real, harmful evil with something fun that’s just pretend and harmless evil..!” You’re right. It is imitation evil but we’re told “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil.” 3 John 1:11

As our Nation has been struggling with a revival of racism, we’ve been recently and appropriately reminded of the lynchings of over 4,000 Black Americans. A permanent stain on our Country’s history. Pure evil. Next week, people will decorate their yards by hanging mannequins by the neck from their front yard trees. Just fun and harmless evil? “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil.” 3 John 1:11

Throughout the Mid-East, Muslim extremists behead Christians in accordance with the Qur’an command in 47:4. “So, when you meet (in fight Jihad in Allah's Cause), those who disbelieve smite at their necks.” Mohammad’s teaching that it is God’s will for Christian believers to be beheaded is absolute evil. On Halloween night, the “fun” evil of graphic beheadings will be featured in front yards throughout our Nation. “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil.” 3 John 1:11

It was just this last Palm Sunday. As Christians throughout the world gathered for the beginning of the holiest week of the Christian year, Muslim extremists planted bombs in two Coptic churches in Egypt. As a choir started to sing the hymns celebrating Jesus on this holy day, the bomb, hidden under the pews, was detonated. Body parts were flung throughout the sanctuary. Red gore ran down the front of the white altar cloths and pooled on the floor. 45 killed. 126 injured. Unspeakable evil. 

A Catholic Church's House of Horrors. To the glory of God?
Next weekend, many American churches will be holding “haunted houses” in their church as they attempt to reach out to the unchurched community. Arranging lifeless bloody "bodies" on pews for a terrifying fright fest to show how culturally cool we are. Walking dead “zombies.” The gorier the better! Just pretend and harmless evil... After the slaughter at the Pulse Nightclub in Florida, one of the first responders said it looked like a house of horrors. Should churches really be imitating evil with our own bloody house of horrors in church multipurpose rooms?  “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil.” 3 John 1:11  

The dictionary refers to the Devil and his demons as it defines evil as “profound immorality, wickedness, and depravity, especially when regarded as a supernatural force.” The Bible uses the Greek word “poneros” that is translated as being spiritually “evil.” It means being wicked (ungodly) and doing wicked deeds. Evil is vicious, sinful, corrupt malevolence. Evil is an exuberant shout of celebration as the body of the pedestrian you just hit is flung through the air and you leave him to die in the dark. 

There is no “fun” evil. There is no “good” evil. I wonder if the families of the Las Vegas victims think that pretend murder is “fun.” I wonder if the Coptic Christians in the Mid-East would think the graphic horror houses in some of our churches are “good.” Evil is directly or indirectly caused by supernatural demonic forces and God is grieved by our casual participation in the one special day that evil is celebrated as safe and fun. Because when we fellowship with demons, we provoke the Lord to jealous anger. 1 Cor 10:19-22  You can dance with God or hold hands with the devil but you can’t do both. Paul asks, “How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil?” 2 Cor 6:12-15 

Do we honor those who have faced the horrific reality of evil in their lives when we have fun with our pretend evil on the 31st? Do we honor God by imitating the evil of this world in our homes and churches as we celebrate this time of Halloween? Just something to think about...

UPDATE: 10/25/17 8:45 am. An editing error left off a sentence in paragraph three. This is the corrected version.

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