How would you like to live in a world in which no evil exists, where there is no ISIS brutally murdering their captives by running them over with tanks, in which Iran is not seeking to develop nuclear weapon that will incinerate Israel and America, in which our economy is not on the brink of disaster, in which innocent unborn children are not being brutally murdered in the Planned Parenthood facility down the street, in which family-reckoning, heartbreaking divorces are not occurring in record numbers, and best of all, where your own heart is not being assaulted by the destructive ravages of sin?
You can live in such a world at least for an hour and 15 minutes each week if you will attend a typical evangelical church. You can go there for months on end without ever encountering any of these manifestations of evil, instead living in a world in which God’s love is spilling out on everyone, were only two groups exist, those who have come to know about and embrace God’s love and those who have yet to discover it.
Those already basking in the love of God spontaneously show that love to others. In cases where they fail to do so we must be patient because God hasn’t finished with them yet. The problem is not with them. They do not make evil choices to gratify their lusts, and therefore they do not need to be exhorted regarding the wickedness of those choices and God’s severe discipline that will result from them. Nor do they need to be reminded of the pain they are causing others by their sinful behavior. Nor do they need to be challenged to follow the example of the apostle Paul in bringing their bodies into subjection. They do not need to develop and display endurance in the fight against the evil lurking in their hearts because apparently they have no such problem. We only need to wait for God to finish His work.
The only possible evil being found among the saints is with those failing to be patient while God does His work, those inclined to shoot their wounded, those judgmental, legalistic believers still living in the primordial evangelical world in which Christians struggled with an evil, fallen nature, and God held him responsible when they capitulated, and where the church was likewise responsible to confront them, offering help to those willing to repent. Such evangelical Neanderthals are clueless regarding the extent of God’s love, which bathes every person in limitless grace. Instead, they are throwbacks to an earlier age fixated by such loveless themes as hell. Therefore, they embody the only evil within the church walls that needs to be confronted.
And outside the church walls virtually no evil is occurring, because that would require evil people doing evil things, and apparently no such beings exist in the contemporary evangelical world. We only have those who have not heard, seekers, pre-Christians, those waiting to hear that God loves them so that they, too, will become spontaneous conduits of the love of God to the world around them.
The focus in this happy world is almost entirely on love. We sing and preach about love. We give invitations to come and receive God’s love and baptize those who have acknowledged God’s love for them. Our announcements are filled with projects planned by the church providing ways to show God’s love for the community and the world.
The only shortcoming found in this world resides in its inability to encapsulate us in its cocoon of love 24/7. Ultimately we are forced to reenter the world of reality in which selfishness, greed, hatred, torture, murder, and many other expressions of evil exists, some of these manifestations of wickedness residing in our own hearts. Others inflicting unspeakable horror on our fellow Christians.
Our hour and 15 minutes in the love nest has not prepared us for this world. In fact, failure to acknowledge it has even prevented us from praying about it. The one lesson we did learn in church was to pretend it does not exist, which becomes all the more essential as the world becomes increasingly more evil. If we can only manage to pretend it out of existence for six days 22 hours and 45 minutes each week, we can return to our comfortable, happy, world overflowing with love, at least until the forces of evil shut it down.