Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Is Evil Hunting You?

SNAP: when Crackle theology meets Pop psychology

A peculiar mantra has been circulating lately which is disquieting and must be laid to rest. It has been around for centuries, but people of faith have picked it up and begun to wear it as either a badge of identity or worth. This four-word theme has had a profound effect on spiritual perspective and needs to be critically examined.

Evil is hunting you.

Take a look at that for a minute. What does that mean? Rather than seriously considering the underlying implications, we take the words at face value, understanding the meanings of the words separately, we think we comprehend the implications. However, there is an insidious claim in there that we don’t recognise (but we do reinforce) when we knee-jerk respond: “evil is hunting me” as an explanation for a setback, an illness, a serious accident, or a devastating loss.

What is evil? That’s difficult to answer since it is pretty well understood by everyone. We each have a grasp of the concept. But is it a thing? A person or personification? When it is not being an adjective (descriptor), how do we know it when we see it? We are sure to recognise it when it stares us in the face: be it a car accident, a travesty of justice, abuse, a war, cancer, or the flu. We have attributed it to so many things that it is losing its substance.

Which brings us to the next question: is it hunting us?

If it is hunting, it sounds like an entity. And hunting is something deliberate, so it must have a will. And from there we step into the spiritual realm. We encounter Satan and his minions, all of whom we are confident are evil. So much so that at times they get the credit when things happen to us which may have nothing to do with their machinations at all. It is disturbing, also, how much traction Satan has in the minds of faithful people. Sometimes they forget he is not omnipresent and, being limited to one place at a time, he may not have the wherewithal to be bombarding them personally. Sheepishly they smile and assure you that it’s probably his demons who are oppressing or hunting them. Demons we know very little about and usually manifest in clear and obvious ways. In light of this, quite a few claims of “evil pursuit” do not align with Biblical descriptions of demonic activity (or witchcraft, if you will)—so it is a huge leap to attribute accidents, natural disasters, and the bureaucracy of ungodly authorities to vague demonic evil.

So: is evil hunting us? Does it have a will and are we its target? 

Most likely, as Joseph sat in the bottom of the dry cistern his brothers had thrown him into, listening to them discussing the price of selling him to the Ishmaelites, he did not perceive evil as hunting him. Very likely he thought things were evil and going to get more evil. Undoubtedly he was assailed by dread and some fear. He did appear to be “in the clutches” of evil. But years later, after saving the known world from famine (an outcome of this cistern experience), he said: “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”

What appeared to be evil hunting and hounding him was, in fact, not evil but a big plan. Some insist that this is God “bringing good out of evil.” If that makes more sense to you, so be it. However, whether that is reality or not, the outcome is that whether evil hunts you or not, evil is not the determining factor. It may “hunt” or we may reap the consequences of choices (ours or others). Evil does not have a will—it is more likely the chaos that erupts when goodness is turned from. We all do have options and we can pursue the good or not. When we choose not to, however, evil is the only alternative. If something is not for the good, it must be against it.

I urge us all, friends, let us resolve to avoid this mantra, and encourage others likewise for these reasons:
“Evil is hunting you” misdirects our attention with four serious consequences:
  1. puts the emphasis in the wrong place. It makes evil the determiner and own the seat of power. It is the subject of the sentence and “you” is the object. (Wouldn’t a life-view with God as the subject of the sentence be more helpful?)
  2. possibly misperceives what “evil” is. Many things perceived negatively have evil attributed to them, but science has proven the value of such an obvious “evil” as pain. We do not know the whole story until the end. 
  3. makes us defensive. If we have the attitude that we are being hunted, we become the prey, the victims. We sometimes fall into a “circle the wagons” mentality that sees danger in everything and expects the worst in all scenarios. It dulls us to the brilliance of life and its gifts.
  4. it potentially vilifies people. This is true in many scenarios today: because evil describes many people and places they become to us “evil incarnate.” They become the enemy. They are feared, hated, and lo, if we look within we will see the vestiges of evil clinging to our very thoughts about them. 

Ultimately, by our giving credit and regard to the influence of evil, by allowing it to “hunt us” in our own vocabulary, we give it strength against us and begin to find evil itself in the ways we determine to fight it in our own strength. If we must use evil to fight evil, violence to fight violence, then we open the floodgates—

Now there is a daunting thought.

Rather, let us joyfully remind ourselves that He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.