Friday, January 15, 2010

Ugly Prognosis

To see evil in a proper light is to understand its proximity to cancer. Often evil is masked with momentary highs, lapses in judgment, and a marketing campaign that encourages risk and danger as key ingredients of life – all the while selling Russian roulette with only one empty chamber (odds don’t look good). But therein is the point, when we finally realize what evil is in our lives, its effects, and what is required to treat it … we cringe.

Ectomy does not work; be it lumpectomy, mastectomy, pick your ectomy; when it comes to our character, attempts to remove a portion of evil are ineffective. For starters, we usually pick the wrong surgeon. We begin by believing we are fully capable of self-surgery given the proper motivation. After a few botched attempts, we may seek help from fellow sufferers. This is akin to getting directions for critical surgery from Wikipedia, put there by failed patients who died in the process of sharing their singular advice.

But were we to find a magical surgeon skilled enough with a blade to open us up and begin to remove the poisoned tissue, our doctor would be horrified to find there is no end to it. The problem with the cancer of evil is just how deep it runs in our souls. The deeper you look the more you find. It permeates everything. It spreads without notice infecting every single impulse, almost every single thought, or deed. A doctor after such exploratory surgery would be giving us quite the ugly prognosis.

People criticize the Old Testament for being arbitrary, or too explicit in its directions to us. But I pose it was probably easier for Israelites to rationalize they were “good” people when only having to compare their actual actions against the finger of the law on stone tablets. If I had not actually killed someone, I could count myself “good”. But when Christ came along in person, He reminded us that motives and thoughts always have counted and always would. Just to hate someone was “in effect” to kill them in my mind. Just to lust, was like committing adultery. Even my thoughts would be measured for evil. And to be fair, not many crimes are purely impulse without any pre-consideration. Most crimes are thought out intentions, plans, and then actions.

No there is only one outcome to get rid of all this evil. We must die and be reborn. Re-Genesis is our only option for treatment. Not the replacement of just a part of ourselves, but of the whole of ourselves. Completely reborn in Christ; having died to self. Everyone is fine with the living part of this equation. Living a life that is governed by impulses sent from heaven sounds great. Being freed from evil sounds fantastic. Being a servant and loving it, is beyond words. But didn’t I mention dying in there somewhere? Dying seems antithetical to living doesn’t it? Why must there be any kind of death in order to live?

At the root of all evil is self. Down past all the symptomatic behavior, past all the predictable human weakness outcomes, past all the rationalization about how comparatively we are really not so bad, is the root of all our evil – our focus on self. What happens when I am at the core of my illness? I gotta go. It is me that must be killed, and a new me constructed if life is ever going to worth living.

Being sick, really feeling badly, stinks … literally. I hate hurting, cramping, nausea, and of course pain. The cloudy head, and unclear thoughts, the dizziness, the tingling, sniffling, coughing, stuffy head, fever, so you don’t ever rest sickness. It is nasty and I hate it. Yet for no apparent or explainable reason it hits me like a ton of bricks. And while in this decrepit condition, I remember this is what it is like to live with evil within my soul. The effects my illness has on my body and mind, are matched by the effects that evil has on my soul and heart and hands.

But being sick, and living in pain is NOT what our Creator God ever intended for His created children. Pain is a reality of sin, not one of perfection. Disease and suffering are hallmarks of evil, not of perfection. God did not intend for us to exist in such a depressed or downtrodden state. He aches that we sometimes embrace our own conditions, relish ourselves in it, and seem to prefer living in the sty with the pigs, than in the mansion with our real families. None-the-less, our conditions as horrific as we sometimes find them, are useful if they point us to alternative way to live. A way to live past the death we see all around us. A way to live after we give up the death of ourselves. Real life. Real existence. Past the real pain, is real life.

This is the beauty of a creator God. He is uniquely able to re-create what sin and evil have systemically so gutted. Our God is able to bring life to the ashes we once called our existence. Past the letting go, is the rising up, free from everything that once bound the human soul. This is the life He offers. Not a life filled with soul-less self pursuits to satisfy a craving that can never be filled – but a life of service, ordained for the benefit of others, wherein the serving is the reward, and no small amount of it can ever be truly measured in full. Instead of a hole we cannot fill up, we are given a cup that won’t stop overflowing. Insatiable transformed to complete fulfillment, contentment, and peace. No more hunger, no more pain, no more darkness.

Illness cannot stand in this light, nor will evil tolerate its presence. It withers and dies in the face of He who so easily can transform the soul. Other purported deities match good against evil as if the odds were even of the outcome; this is folly. The only true God is complete good with no evil within Him. And He is not powerless against evil, but all powerful over it. Evil flees from love, as it cannot defeat its power. Evil would have you believe it is powerful and that you cannot defeat it, or get it out of your life, thoughts, and soul. But that is a lie. You cannot remove it, but Christ can. He will. He does. And Evil cannot stand against it. This is your hope. This is the good news of the gospel. That evil has and will be defeated inside of you, as well as everywhere else in creation.

There is no end to the love that could save a wretch like me. There is no hope like the hope I find in the only one true God. And there is no power like the power of love, for nothing can defeat it, and it has conquered all. I stand in awe of the creator God who cares enough to still love even me …

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