I Am That Guy

 
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Monsters and Evil Men

“Why evil?,” asks everyone from long time church going folk to militant atheists preaching on the Internet.  It’s a good question. This world is messed up. A pastor or leader should never play it down, or pretend not to sympathize with his neighbor. It can eat at the best of us as we sit with a family waiting to hear whether or not their daughter will survive a gunshot wound.

The recent evil event in Las Vegas shoves this question in our face. That’s because we often only label great and public calamities as evil. When we think of evil we limit our imagination to Hitler, Jeffrey Dahmer, Hugh Hefner, disco, and the like.

Yet the great evil that propels mass murder, child pornography, and whatever cancer eats at humanity, lies in my heart too. I belong on that list of monsters and evil men. (Rom 3:9-20)

Jesus makes this clear in His sermon on the mount where He dresses down everyone in the room no matter how good they thought they looked on the outside! (Matt 5) Interestingly, Jesus doesn’t point out the extraordinarily evil actions of the Roman Empire that was on every Israelite’s Twitter feed. He could have pointed to a number of outrageous events! Think about it.

Instead He focuses on the ordinary evil of ordinary individuals; the married guy who has gotten too close to his neighbor, the daughter who despises her parents, the young man who can’t let go of his riches, the self righteous law abiding citizen who thinks he isn’t evil. He’s talking about l’il ol’ me.

We all desperately need God’s only Son to take our place, to cleanse us by His blood, to wipe away our evil deeds.
— Joel Hess

While we definitely need God’s external word to show us our evil, our evil and its consequences should be quite evident to us every day as people are hurt by our words, glances, lack of generosity and love. Lord have mercy.

Often times people like to say that if God forgives (fill in the name of your favorite psychopath) then surely He forgives me. But we all are ‘that’ guy! Surely He does forgive you! We all desperately need God’s only Son to take our place, to cleanse us by His blood, to wipe away our evil deeds. It is finished.

Sometimes the heaviest load of guilt isn’t the most outwardly grievous, but the little things that we think we can manage and put away ourselves. Don’t believe the lie. They aren’t just pedestrians sins. The nicest fitting necklace can be the tightest chain. Repent! Jesus wants those, too!

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)

 

Rev. Joel Hess is the fortunate pastor at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Cadillac, MI, where God’s reality pierces through our illusions by His Word, flesh and blood and gentle waters.  He is the author of many half written projects; a talented musician and artist.  His contributions to the Jagged Word deal with the intersection of theology, culture and the arts.