This summer our high school is trying something new: we’re all reading the same scripture. We have thirty-five passages to read from both the Old and the New Testaments. There’s a four-year cycle and the hope is to hit all the vital points in the scripture over the course of a high school career. Even the staff and faculty are reading, so we hope this will lead to great discussion and unity of purpose in the school year to come. I’m excited about that. We even have book marks to help us keep track of our progress.
Today I read about the flood. It was kind of depressing to read these words considering that they come AFTER the flood and that they are bound up in God’s promise not to curse the ground again: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood.” I’ve been struggling with the concept and the reality of evil lately. I struggle against the evil in my own heart. I struggle against the evil I see in the world, hear in what people say, feel in the super-charged air of a room full of conflict.
The challenge is to move through life with love and grace and peace in the midst of evil–and not just the evil of others, but my own as well. How do I believe the best about people’s intentions and yet hold onto the wisdom that reminds me that sin is always present? This is a conundrum.
I teach about the Renaissance. I know that humanists of the period gave up the orthodox doctrine of original sin and believed instead that man was basically good and perfectible. It was all about human potential for good. RIGHT. I’m reading a book right now called April Blood by Lauro Martines. It’s about the Pazzi Conspiracy to kill the Medici in 1478. It’s horrifying. Believing in man’s goodness did not turn Renaissance Florence into paradise, not by a long shot.
So, how do I navigate this evil, sin-filled world? By grace, through faith. Last week on one day when I was particularly oppressed in spirit by evil, I picked up Jesus Calling and found that one of the verses for the day was John 16:33. I’ve kept coming back to it over and over these last few days: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Jesus is the shelter from the storm of evil on the outside. Jesus is the answer to rooting out the evil within. Jesus is the answer. He has overcome. I’ll take heart.