What kind of mind, what kind of evil in the heart of mankind, recommends as something useful, the enslavement of a another race, in pursuit of one’s own economic advancement, as occurred during the transatlantic slave trade in the 18th century?
And in that same time in the history of mankind, it boggles the imagination to comprehend how British Society became so degenerate and vile, that according to Metaxas, writing on the life of William Wilberforce, alerted us that, “ The sexual trafficking of women was another staggering problem, one whose scope is almost inconceivable: fully 25% of all single women in London were prostitutes. And their average age was sixteen”.
What kind of mind, what kind of evil in the heart of mankind, reportedly provoked by a desire for revenge, plans to plant bombs in churches and hotels, to kill and maim and frighten hundreds of Christians on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka? What kind of mind, what kind of evil, kidnaps a young teacher, transports him to another parish, and having carried out the vile act of murder, ‘dash oil ‘ on him to prevent the inevitable decay of a body once loved and cherished, from attracting early attention.
What kind of mind, what kind of evil, attacks a young eight year girl, allegedly sexually molests her, and then then adds murder to the wicked act of rape? What kind of mind, what kind of evil, has been let loose in our society, as reported to me, by more than one persons, appears on a stage show in Jamaica land we love recently, and is caught on video fondling the breasts of a half naked woman, clad only in her panties, while the crowd roars with approval and excitement. I could go on. And add the sickening behavior of priests raping young girls and boys, and being ‘rewarded’ by being moved to another cure,or pastorate!
The challenge here is for us in our Christian journey, and even the non Christian, but basically decent and law abiding citizen, to understand the reality and power of evil in this world.
A very real and present and past danger! And then be comforted and assured that, “ in Christ we have the victory “. Over evil! For “ It is finished” – One of Jesus’ seven words from the cross.
Two things then come to mind as I write this morning. One a verse from Scripture:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
John 10:10 NIV
The other a letter from the grave! From the mind of John Wesley, the great Methodist evangelist, whose itinerant preaching,is said to have “ given back England it’s soul”. Writing n his deathbed to the young and brilliant Parliamentarian William Wilberforce, who fought valiantly, and eventually successfully, along with his friends in the “ Clapham Sect”, to overcome the “execrable villainy” that was slavery.
Unless the divine power has raised you up to be as Athanasius contra undue ( against the world), I see not how you can go through your glorious enterprise in opposing that execrable villainy, which is the scandal of religion,of England, and the of human nature. Unless God has raised you up Fr this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils.
But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of then together stringer than God? O be not weary of well doing. Go on, in the name of God and and in the power of his might, till even American slavery ( the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it.
Reading this morning a tract wrote by a poor African, I was particularly struck by that circumstance, that a man who has a black skin, being wronged or outraged by a white man, can have no redress;it being a law in all our Colonies that the oath of black against a white goes for nothing.What villainy is this!
That he who has guided you from your youth up may continue to strengthen you in this and all things is the prayer of, dear sir,
Your affectionate servant,
A word of caution however. From the eminent and well respected theologian and former pastor and evangelical Anglican John Stott writing in The Cross of Christ on ‘ the conquest of evil ‘:
“ For Christians, as for Christ, life spells conflict. For Christians as for Christ it should also spell victory. We are to be victorious ( over evil) like the victorious Christ…..Yet the parallel is only partial. It would be utterly impossible for us by ourselves to fight and defeat the devil; we lack both the skill and strength to do so. It would also be unnecessary to make the attempt, because Christ has already done it….
It is not quite so simple as that, however. For though the devil has been defeated ( on the cross), he has not yet conceded defeat. Although he has been overthrown, he has not been eliminated. In fact he continues to wield great power……
On the one hand,we are assured that,having been born of God, Christ keeps us safe and ‘ the evil one does not touch’ us; on the other we are warned to watch out because the same evil one ‘ prowls around like a raring lion looking for someone to devour’.
And a word of advice from the same John Stott in his ( other ) seminal book “ Decisive Issues facing Christians Today”. ( 1984) In which he identifies the main but certainly not the only key issues which we need to consider. And in my mind some, but maybe, just maybe, not all, of these issues arise from the “ roaring lion seeking someone to devour”.
The chapters are on inter alia :
The Nuclear Threat: Our Human Environment: North -South Inequality: Human Rights: Work and Employment: Industrial Relations: The Multi -Racial Dream; Poverty, Wealth and Simplicity: Women, Men and God, Marriage and Divorce: The Abortion Dilemma: Homosexual Partnerships.
The more I journey with Christ, is the more I have come to realize that we cannot even begin to under the love of this merciful God, and His grace offered to us through the Life and Death, Resurrection and Ascension of his holy servant Jesus Christ. Unless we understand how evil has inserted itself into a good, in fact a very good, creation, and thus invoked the wrath of a holy God who cannot countenance sin. A wrath against “ all who have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”, me and you, all mankind because of evil. And which wrath, in the greatest act of mercy and love that a confused and sinful world ever witnessed, was ‘satisfied’ by the suffering and rejection and death of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Grace, costly grace, according to the German martyr and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, which ‘provoked’ the hymn-writer to pen these famous words,
“ Love so amazing so divine, demand my soul, my life, my all’’.
Understand how evil has inserted itself into the behavior of the taxi-men and minibus drivers, in HWT, and in every town in Jamaica. How evil has corrupted the body politic in Jamaica and ruined our once beautiful and peaceful country. How evil has corrupted our music and culture, and inserted itself into some aspects of the dancehall culture, encouraging the rise to stardom and pervasive influence of Kartel et al.
How the evil of the transatlantic slave trade is very much alive and and well, in how some workers are treated by the rich and powerful in Jamaica today. How evil has inserted itself into how we treat one another; in the home, at school and in the community!
The question is what is to done? And there are many answers! But for me, the key thing I learnt this week, came from that famous letter from John Wesley to a young and determined William Wilberforce. A very insightful note which warned against the opposition of men and devils. Warned against ‘going it alone’ without being called by God. But assuring Wilberforce and all of us who are determined to fulfill our ( Anglican) Baptismal vows to “ fight valiantly against evil”, that, “ if God be with you, who can be against you”.
I close with a verse of Scripture which has kept me going this week:
“ Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonder through your holy servant Jesus.” Acts 4:29-30
We need to pray more and more in this ” demon posessed valley” , that is Jamaica, and the world, as the songwriter recommends, ” order my steps in your word O Lord”. For indeed only the God in whom William Wilberforce and John Wesley trusted in their fight against evil, can rescue this country.