Many people blame “The Devil” when people do bad things to us. “The Devil..." or "Satan is responsible,” we say. But is Satan real? Some do not believe so. Others do. But is he an all-encompassing evil that surrounds the earth? Or can we take some accountability? It is good to have someone or something to blame after all. But is that the answer. Mankind has the ability to love and to hate, and all the emotions in between as well. Evil comes from hate, greed and despair. But is it the devil at work? I think maybe not.
Take for example the September 11, 2001 World Trade Centre attack. Done by evil people you might say? Yet the perpetrators believed they were doing "God’s work". They did not believe they were evil, they believed they were right! My nephew does not believe in God, because God allows children to be blown up and maimed and killed in Syria. I told him God doesn’t blow up children, people do. I did not convince him.
Evil. Is it the devil’s work?
We are amazing creations. We perform great acts of love and also great acts of evil. Look at my adopted country of Australia. I was once so proud to be an Australian. But now we take refugees and lock them away in appalling conditions in detention camps on remote islands for years! I believe this is an evil act, done by human beings.
As Christians we are members of a huge family. We celebrate our Martyrs and the great and good. But remember, we Christians burnt people at the stake; we have hanged and put many to the sword in our past - in the name of Christ. We have shown contempt for the gay community; we have shown hatred to Jews and Muslims. Catholics and Protestants have murdered one another. We have promoted slavery, no longer. We have, quite correctly became virulent anti-slavery campaigners. Yet slavery still exists and I know some Christians are involved.
The evil that comes … from where?
So where does this hatred and evil come from. Is it from fear? Yes. Is it from arrogance? Yes. Is it from the love of other things like power and money? YES! Is it from a feeling of superiority? Yes again. But is “The Devil” in there too? Maybe? We can do evil all by ourselves without the help of a Satan. We justify our actions by saying we are in the right.
So is all evil man made? I do not believe so. There is evil in the world, certainly. Look at health issues like cancer and dementia. I have spoken before about by mother. Once a bright and vibrant woman, but now an empty shell, she is voided of all memory and personality, destroyed mentally by dementia. This is true evil. Why would this happen? Why would God allow my mother to lose everything? Is my mother’s soul with God and the body left behind?
What of depression and madness? I have suffered in the past with a minor form of depression. I know so many who also have battled this evil thing. “It’s a brain chemical imbalance,” the doctors say. Yet why does it exist at all? People get cancer … many die. We know what it is, we know how we can attempt to treat it, but we do not know why it exists.
What is evil?
Evil exists. We do it and we suffer from it. Blaming Satan might have worked once, but us humans are now more of a cerebral animal - mostly. We pray for help. Only sometimes do we find solace or a miraculous recovery. Sometimes love wins and sometimes we even do the right thing. But sometimes others will view the right thing as ‘evil’.
That brings me to the evil we do not understand. Is it evil at all? Or do we call it that because it is so heartbreaking. I have no answers and I am sure you don’t either. There is no quick, twee statement that will help us understand. Saying “it is God’s Will” diminishes God in my opinion. God is Love. He does not destroy or harm. Saying it is “Satan’s Work” is not the whole story either, as is blaming man.
So is it purely the world we live? That doesn’t work either.
The truth, as I see it, is this: evil is many-faceted as is love and life. There are many types and sources of evil. As Shrek says, “Onions have layers. OGRES have layers. Onions have layers... you get it. We both have layers.”
Life is like that too. Tragically, evil is part of our life and life can be a battle. Just because we love God, it doesn’t mean our journey will be one of smooth sailing. Facing evil is part of our life journey.
In summer, Australia (and other countries) suffer with major fires in the bush and forested areas. Often they burn for weeks and when it is finished the ground is charred, black and ashen. It is a black and grey wasteland. Then, a miracle takes place and suddenly a green haze covers the ground. Life renews and begins to grow from the ashes. As do we when we suffer the fires of evil and misfortune. Never forget that God loves us. We will grow and bloom and become stronger people. You and I were born of love. Yes, there will be struggles, because life is a journey. God is there with us, holding our hand as we travel. It is exciting and glorious!
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Christopher wants to see fairness in the world and desires to see the doors of Christianity open to all. He has been a drama junkie for decades. He found God in the 1990’s but too often sees faith and belief being used to promote individuals doctrines. Chris enjoys reading, theatre, good food and good company. Chris loves music but can’t play a note. He has two adult children and a patient wife. He lives in Melbourne Australia.
See previous articles by Christopher Newport