Thursday, November 03, 2005

resident evil

article I'm working on for this weekend's TJ blog

Then he called the crowd again and said to them, 'Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.'

When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. He said to them, 'Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?' (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, 'It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.' - Mark 7:14-23 (NSRV)

Every day, scientists are discovering susceptibilities to physical and mental illnesses that are encoded in our make-up and that outside influences can either increase or decrease these susceptibilities. In raising children, you discover that your child is born with a personality and that outside influences can help bring out the best or the worst in that personality.

Jesus also reminds us that evil resides in us, that it is part of our make-up. We cannot blame outside influences for the existence of this evil. What outside influences can do is make it very hard for us to overcome our resident evil. Outside influences give us plenty of opportunity to feel justified in our evil intentions, where we can hide them under the guise of retribution, security, or righteous indignation.

But what can we do to keep this evil in check? Frankly not much without God's help. We have been given a path to follow in Jesus and his life. We have been given words of wisdom to consider. It requires a tremendous attitude adjustment from the expectations of society. Instead of being encouraged - "don't worry, be happy", we're instructed - "don't fret". That seems like a weak response to evil, but I think it means that we shouldn't let the evil out in the world, feed our resident evil or it will lead to our undoing.
Be still before the LORD, and wait patiently for him;
do not fret over those who prosper in their way,
over those who carry out evil devices.
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath.
Do not fret - it leads only to evil.
For the wicked shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land. - Psalm 37:7-9 (NSRV)

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