The essence of a Christian leader's task is to confront evil's devastation with God's hope. Through Jesus Christ, God can redeem and deliver anyone from the evil's devastation. Jesus Christ provides God's hope to any person--including those who exist in the blackness of despair's deepest pit. The deepest darkness makes Jesus' light shine brightly. Through an amazing contrast, evil's darkness highlights God's love!

My problem: I forget that truth. I confess without hesitation that evil consumes me. Surely I could give a long list of ungodly things I have never done. I also could give a long list of ungodly things I do not do. I could give a lengthy list of "good" things I do. I could give a significant list of spiritual understandings that bless me with an increased spiritual maturity.

Yet, when my mind and emotions are contrasted with Jesus' life and heart, those lists become meaningless. Jesus reminds me that evil invades every area of my existence.

Spiritual growth produces at least two amazing experiences. First, the more Christians grow toward God, the more aware they become of their evil. Second, the more mature Christians become in Christ, the more they realize their complete dependence on God's grace. They continually are amazed at God's vast forgiveness because they continually are amazed at the vastness of their own evil.

Incredibly, we expect others in Christ to have no evil. Evil in the godless amazes us. Evil in the uncommitted shocks us. But evil in Christians disillusions us. We readily admit that evil exists in us. We readily admit dependence on God's forgiveness. Yet, we are convinced evil should not [must not!] exist in other Christians.

I forget that God's greatest opportunities are produced by evil's darkest moments: Israel's slavery in Egypt; Elijah's contest with the prophets of Baal; Daniel's encounter with the lions; Jesus' crucifixion; Paul's sufferings; John's exile.

God calls us to be His church because evil is FORGIVEN. When evil preys on your weaknesses, you do not need my contempt. You need my encouragement in Christ. When evil preys on my weaknesses, I do not need your contempt. I need your encouragement in Christ. We share forgiveness and hope because we experience forgiveness and hope.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 26 May 2002

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