How did we humans become so irrational? 

In the book of Acts there are several occasions when a mob of people simply react and no one can reason with them. And it doesn’t take much for a mob like that to form today either, whether on social media, protest marches, or in wild accusations against anyone with a different view on things.  

Irrationality also includes in its dark and sticky web institutional authorities and experts, who totally ignore facts, preferring to threaten and crack down, even with powers they don’t legally have, on anyone opposing their narrative. And they become even more irrational the more people oppose them or face up to them with logic.  

So how did humans made in the image of God get to this point? Was it because we needed to be faced with the irrationality of evil? I think of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane before his crucifixion knowing that all evil would be placed on him, and the immense suffering of mind that created in him. It made him sweat blood and beg his Father for anything but having to go through the agony he would have to endure to free us humans from the insanity and power of evil that would never stop until it had eaten us all up.

Jesus, in other words, knew and felt the power of irrational evil like none of us ever have or ever will, and it horrified him what it would do to humanity unless he took the only route the Father knew would destroy evil and its power over us. 

And what a power it is, because even with the devil “thrown into a lake of burning sulfur” in Revelation 20:10, it sounds like evil still holds people in its grip, because in Revelation 21:8 there are still unrepentant murderers, liars, sexual perverts and those hooked on the occult.   

And yet God allowed this evil into the world from the very beginning. He allowed the devil to inhabit one of his good creatures, and through a completely twisted logic deceive a beautiful woman and destroy her while her husband looks helplessly on, totally paralyzed and unable to defend her. 

And that kind of evil power is all over the world today, as people again are paralyzed into conforming with irrational policies and even outright lies that put the lives of the most innocent at unnecessary risk of lifetime damage. 

But we wouldn’t have known such evil was possible and real unless we were exposed to it and tasted it, and we suffered some of the same mental agony Jesus suffered in full. 

Is that why God talks of burning forever in hell in Revelation 20:10? Is it to get the point across how we must never fall victim to evil, never let it get a hold of us in any way, and grasp the importance of Jesus’ sacrifice as the only way evil could be defeated? Because any one of us can be sucked into the black hole of evil, perhaps by the fury we feel at our fellow humans for their ridiculous mandates and lockdowns, or their criminal abuse of children so similar to the abuse of indigenous children being forced into residential schools. 

It seems, then, that for us to pass from death to life we have to run the gauntlet of evil having its way with us, as individuals and as an entire race, as we’ve experienced in this pandemic, when madness is as much a global virus too.  

So how much evil must we be exposed to before recognizing its dreadful power and turning to our Saviour to rescue us as a race and as individuals? Every day I wonder how much worse things can get and I can’t help begging Jesus to ease things up a bit, because what could happen to us is becoming all too obvious to see.   

Reviving the sacredness of the human body

I’m allowed by Scripture to love myself, for one obvious reason stated at the beginning of the Bible, that we are made in God’s image, and what God created in his image he also pronounced as “good.” 

Unfortunately, we’ve used our bodies to do a lot of things that are not in the image of God, that even made God wish he’d never created us, but he clearly loves the human body too, because for all the damage we’ve done with our bodies and to our bodies that clearly deserve us being wiped out forever, God’s plan includes “the redemption of our bodies,” Romans 8:23.

For a start, then, we can throw out the notion of being disembodied creatures wandering round heaven forever as our reward for being good in this life now. That’s a pagan idea that sees no value in the human body. But to God our bodies are totally worth redeeming, not, fortunately, in the weakened, fragile, ageing shells we’re in now, but in bodies that won’t age or decay – in the best bodies we could have had, in other words, if we’d eaten off the right tree in the Garden of Eden.

One has to wonder, then, how we’d treat each other if we viewed our bodies as God does. Some religions revere the lives of animals, some value every living thing, but what culture has ever in the entire history of humans viewed their fellow humans through the same eyes as God? Even the first human family experienced a brutal murder, and killing and maiming each other has never stopped since. 

And despite learning more and more about how amazing our bodies are, we readily go to war and tear each other to pieces in the most horrible ways. I wonder what we’d make of Genesis 9:5-6, then, that in the new world God created to replace the dreadful mess they’d made of things up to that point, he focused their attention on the sacredness of the human body, when he told Noah, “I will require the life of any man or beast by whose hand your lifeblood is shed. I will demand an accounting from anyone who takes the life of his fellow man: Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man his blood will be shed; for in his own image God has made mankind.” 

It made me think of the media, governments and pharmaceutical companies that support jabbing experimental drugs into humans without even knowing what side effects or lifelong damage they may create, and especially in children. Based on Genesis 9, then, I wonder if God’s going to hold them accountable for that. 

My body is so sacred to God – because of what Jesus did to redeem it – that I can’t even use the defence against coerced vaccination that it’s “My body, my choice,” because in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 I’m told “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body.” In other words, my body belongs to God. I can’t just do what I like to my body, but nor can anyone else either, whether it be bullying government, experimental drug pushers, or junk food manufacturers. 

And that opens up a whole new window into what Jesus redeemed my body for. It’s described in Romans 6:13, that since we’ve “been brought from death to life” – the new life of the resurrected Jesus in us – we find ourselves able now “to offer the parts of our body to him as instruments of righteousness.” 

Because that’s what he created our bodies in the first place for, to make this world a wonderful place. He made our bodies so they’re capable of doing enormous good, which is why Jesus came to redeem them. He valued our bodies enough to rescue them and heal them, to revive the sacredness of the human body so we see ourselves for who we really are – and if only we could see each other that way too.

Making the most of what God’s given us

Following on from the blog before this one, and the last sentence in it, “so grab the opportunity to live what he’s given us,” I hope it didn’t sound like it was something “we must do.” 

On the other hand, the way Peter phrases things in 2 Peter 1 it does sound like what he’s saying is something we need to do, because after writing in verse 3 that “God’s divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness,” he then writes in verse 5 about US “making every effort,” and in verse 10, about us “making our calling and election sure,” because “if you do these things you will never fall” – which sounds very much like a “must do” or there will be consequences.   

But what are these “things” we need to do, then?  

Peter lists them in verses 5-7, that we “make every effort to add to our faith goodness, and to goodness knowledge, etc.” There are eight things he lists that we do, and the reason given for doing them too in verse 8, “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And a warning too in verse 9, that “if anyone does not have them (the list of eight) he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.” 

So, what’s going on here? I ask that, because in verse 2 Peter wishes us “Grace and peace in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,” but then adds all these things we need to do as well.  

I admit these verses bothered me for a long time, because what becomes of grace if we can also “fall” (verse 10) by not doing our part? 

What I later realized I’d missed was Peter’s statement in verse 4, that God gave us the amazing gift of his “great and precious promises” – which are totally his doing by his grace – “so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

In other words, God kickstarted our Christian lives – all his doing – so that we can experience what Jesus cleansed our past and resurrected us to new life for. The eight things listed by Peter are what we can experience and participate in as Christians to the full now. They’re all gifts still, but God wants us opening them up and experiencing them. So if we’re a bit short on, or in need of, any of those eight things Peter listed – faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love – realize they’re ours already as marvellous gifts made possible by Jesus – so – “make every effort,” or grab the opportunity, to live them, and experience them growing in us too.  

And according to Peter this is what God called and elected us for, to shine with these gifts of Jesus’ divine nature, replacing the typical world’s attitudes we had before. And by taking what he’s given us seriously our knowledge of what Jesus won for us becomes clear and it bears some real fruit. We’re literally being transformed into Christ’s likeness as an opportunity we’ve been given to experience every day.

It helped answer that other tricky verse in Philippians 2:12 about us “continuing to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.” Which again sounds like we need to make our salvation sure by what we do. But salvation, as we know, is totally God’s gift to us. What Paul’s getting at, then, is – “Go on, live what he’s given us, open up his gifts and live them to the full, because this is what God has instilled in us to want to do,” as Paul explains in verse 13

It’s a grand opportunity not to be missed, in other words. It’s not to be taken lightly either, says Paul in verse 12, because it’s God’s great pleasure to see us grow. He loves seeing us conscious of our gifts won for us by Jesus, so feel his pleasure, be conscious of it, knowing it’s his great desire to give us a “rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,” 2 Peter 1:11. It’ll be his pleasure one day to say, “Well done, my child, you made the most of my gifts to you.”   

The Christian message in 3 words: heart, hope (and) healing

The Christian message is all good news, with no hint at any stage of conversion from Satan to God, or salvation from death to eternal life, or living the Christian life, that “we might not make it if we don’t do our part.” That’s because all three – heart, hope and healing – are God’s doing.

We know, for instance, that the process of human conversion from evil to good begins with the HEART. We get that in Acts 10, with the heart of Cornelius. It’s his good heart that kickstarts his conversion and the conversion of his entire household, as the first Gentiles to grasp the Christian message.    

But how did a Roman soldier have such a good heart in the first place? How, as a cog in the mighty Roman machinery of war and a trained killer, did he come to be “devout and God-fearing, giving generously to those in need and praying to God regularly”? And how, as a deadly and despised enemy of the Jews, did he come to be “respected by all the Jewish people”? And how did he respond so readily to a Jew preaching to him from the Jewish Scriptures? 

Imagine the risk to his reputation for so brazenly fraternizing with the enemy. But somehow this impossible sounding situation happened. Why? Because it’s in the heart of a person that God’s purpose begins. And God “knows a good heart” (Acts 15:8) in which his purpose can begin and grow.  

But where did this good heart of Cornelius come from? There’s a clue in the story of Lydia, the first Gentile to respond to the gospel message in Europe. And the reason she responded so well was because “The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message,” Acts 16:14

A good responsive heart, therefore, was not of Cornelius’ making or Lydia’s. It was God’s. He did it. And why did he do it? He did it to open their hearts to the next of the three words, HOPE. Everything from the creation of humans, the entire story of the Old Testament, Jesus’ death and resurrection, and all those wonderful prophecies and promises in Scripture about the world to come and how God is creating it in humans now through Jesus living his life in us – it’s all designed to give us poor suffering humans hope. Hope saves, as Paul wrote in Romans 8:24, because it’s that wonderful life in the future that keeps us going in this mess now (Romans 8:20-21).

And who is the source of that hope? Well, that’s God too. It’s the Holy Spirit’s doing, as he throws open the windows to who we really are. We are the “children of God,” Romans 8:16, with the same future awaiting us that the resurrected Jesus is living in right now, verse 17

So God opens hearts to the Christian message to give us hope. But it’s not just hope for the future, it’s also what he’s up to with us now.  

And that’s HEALING, as Jesus gets to work in us through the Holy Spirit to “bless us by turning each of us from our wicked ways,” Acts 3:26, and “transform us into his likeness,” 2 Corinthians 3:18. It’s where his job as our present High Priest comes In. He knows all the wrong attitudes we’ve picked up from the world, so he becomes our physician, our doctor on hand to help us “escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” and take on his nature instead, 2 Peter 1:3-4.  

Heart, hope and healing – and all God’s doing too, just as Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:3, that God “has given us everything we need for life and godliness,” so, Peter adds in verses 5-11, grab the opportunity to live what he’s given us.

Those wonderful glimpses of the gospel that make it real

Even the apostle Paul had to admit that the true gospel in all its brilliant reality was like trying to see what he looked like in a blurry mirror. On the other hand he was also given a vision of the third heaven. It was only a glimpse, but in enough detail to show him the gospel message he was preaching – and the power and purpose behind it – were both real and true. And that’s what I got the other day too, a glimpse of the gospel’s reality and purpose in a vision – in my case on television.

It was an episode of Escape to the Country where couples in England seeking escape from crowded cities are given three houses in the country to look at for their dream home. And it was one of those couples that gave me just that briefest of glimpses, like Paul, of what the gospel is about.

The couple shone. They were young and not that well off, because they’d decided he’d keep working while she’d stay home for their young daughter. So the houses they were shown were small and odd. Did that make a difference to them? Not one bit. What they saw was a home for the three of them, because their vision of being a family was far more real and important to them than the cosmetics of a building. They had no nagging need for status or image or looking to be great entertainers of friends and family, wowed by how great their house looked. 

They came across as so uncomplicated and “human,” and I couldn’t help liking them immensely. To me they were a glimpse of what God created us humans to be, and the goodness he made possible in us. And it’s a pity that such glimpses are so few, but Jesus only got a few glimpses of good people when he was here too. How many good people did he meet, for instance – other than his close companions and disciples – that really moved him to comment? 

One story did come to mind, about the Roman centurion with a sick servant in Matthew 8 seeking healing from Jesus. The servant was “lying at home paralyzed and dreadfully tormented,” verse 6, and “at the point of death,” Luke 7:2. The need, in other words, was urgent. Matthew says the centurion came personally to Jesus to plead for his servant’s healing, whereas Luke says he sent Jewish elders. I like Luke’s version more because it describes the centurion. And what a man he must’ve been for Jews of importance to willingly and “earnestly” plead on his behalf to Jesus, saying, “This man is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation. He even built our synagogue,” Luke 7:4-5

Imagine that; a despised enemy of the Jews building their synagogue in Capernaum out of his love for them. This was one extraordinary man. And Jesus certainly thought so too, and especially when the centurion also made it known he wasn’t even remotely worthy of Jesus entering his home, and that Jesus only had to “say the word” and the servant would be healed (verses 7-8). A Roman soldier – and one used to having authority himself too – not only respected Jesus’ authority but also his power to heal.

Jesus’ reaction was much the same as mine to the young couple: he “marvelled” and said to those with him, “Amazing, I haven’t found anyone with faith like that, not in all Israel.” There wasn’t even a Jew in the entire nation with the humility and trust, and the goodness, of that Roman soldier. 

It gave Jesus a glimpse of what his life and message would do to people. It was just a glimpse, but even he marvelled and he simply had to express his delight. Because if people trusted him like that centurion this is what would happen to them. They would shine. They’d become uncomplicated. They’d be satisfied with what Jesus had come for, to do good and heal people, and they’d revel in that, just like the young couple revelled in their little family home.

It’s just a glimpse of what the gospel is about; it’s about making us into lovely, humble, trusting, shining people, the kind of humans that God designed us to be from the start, but we blew it and complicated life for ourselves instead. 

It’s also a glimpse into why Jesus said we could be shining lights in a dark world, because that’s what the gospel is meant to do, make us shine so we become glimpses of the gospel to help it become real to other people too.  

How do we know Jesus is living in us?

Right now we desperately need what Jesus prayed to his Father for in John 17:26 that “I myself may be in them,” which Paul described as the “glorious riches” of a “mystery kept hidden for ages, but is now disclosed to the saints” in Colossians 1:26-27. Christ living his life in us is the greatest thing that could happen to us, in other words.  

But how does it happen? And how do we know “Christ living his life in us” is happening too?

Jesus explains in John 14. He starts off in verses 16-17 by telling his disciples “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth,” who not only lives “with” us, he also lives “in” us. And the purpose of this other Counsellor (the “Holy Spirit,” verse 26) is to get the point across that “I (Jesus) am in you,” verse 20

It means a great deal to Jesus that we’re not left out in the cold to fend for ourselves or live the life of “orphans” (verse 18), so through the Holy Spirit he not only “comes” to us in verse 18, he also “shows” himself to us in verse 21, and along with his Father he makes his “home” in and with us as well, verse 23. So we’ll certainly know he’s real all right. 

And we know this is real because we experience a remarkable “peace,” verse 27. And it truly is remarkable, because it’s the kind of peace that he, Jesus, experiences, that cannot come from anything in this world. When, for instance, did we ever experience our “hearts not being troubled” or not living in fear (verse 27) when Jesus wasn’t living in us?  My life was filled with worries and stress. 

So there we have what Jesus desires for us and how it comes about, through the Holy Spirit living Jesus’ life and peace in us, and enough for us to “know” it too (verse 17). 

And sprinkled through this explanation by Jesus he also drops clues as to how the Holy Spirit does all this for us. He does it, verse 26, by “reminding us of everything” Jesus “said,” “taught,” and “commanded” his disciples to do (verses 21, 23). The Holy Spirit, in other words, is living and teaching exactly the same life that Jesus lived and taught to his disciples, in us. 

Or as Jesus phrases it later in John 16:13, the Spirit will “guide us into all truth” by, verse 14, “taking from what is mine and making (all that Jesus is) known to you.” And somehow the Holy Spirit is able to get that across to us, so that we always know Jesus is teaching and living everything he is in us.   

But to get us to that point, so that not only do we experience Jesus’ peace but also his “joy,” John 15:11, Jesus drops a vital clue in the picture of a tree with branches full of good fruit on them, because they’re attached to the tree’s trunk. It seems like an obvious point but in Jesus’ mind he means we depend on him for everything, not only in his teachings as our guide in life (15:3), but also seeing him as our most intimate friend who will answer us personally whenever we need an answer (verses 7-15). 

Because that’s exactly what the Father and Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to us for, to help us see Jesus in that light, because that’s how we experience Jesus living his life of peace and joy in us. And all Jesus asks of us is to believe it’s true and hang on to it (verse 9).

The antidote to fear in a scary world 

Fear is the heart and soul of propaganda and evil people seeking to lord it over us. And we’ve experienced a very nasty taste of it during the pandemic. So will these fear tactics continue, sucking more and more of us into a morbid sense of helplessness and despair? 

Clearly not for those who believe in the antidote, that “There is no fear in love,” I John 4:18. But how does that work exactly? How does “perfect love drive out fear” (same verse)? 

The same way love drove out fear for Jesus as a human. Jesus knew he was the Son of God, and as God’s Son his Father lived his life in him (John 14:10-11), and since his Father is all love, 1 John 4:8, then love is what filled Jesus, not fear. 

So, is that the same for us too? Yes, verse 4, because “You, dear children, are from God,” meaning we are the Father’s children too, which enables us to “overcome (the spirit of fear ruling this world), because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (still verse 4). And who is the one “in us”? The same John tells us it’s Jesus (John 17:26). So Jesus is now living the love his Father has for him in us.  

Which is where the Holy Spirit comes into the picture, 1 John 4:13, because “We know that we live in him and he in us because he’s given us of his Spirit.” So the same Spirit that enabled Jesus to be filled with love and not fear is now doing the same for us. Paul understood it that way too, when he wrote that the Holy Spirit we’ve been given is a spirit of love, not a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7).  

But how on earth is our future going to be filled with love and not fear, when as John himself says in 1 John 4:3, that “the spirit of the antichrist even now is already in the world”? And the purpose of the antichrist is to deny Jesus is “from God” (same verse), so that we humans are left with no one to turn to when things get really scary. And for many unfortunate people that’s the situation they’re already in. And not knowing there’s a very real Jesus who knows exactly what they’re going through and he’s ready to help whenever they call on him, they see only a future full of things to be fearful about. 

But here we are with this marvellous gift of the Holy Spirit in us to enable us to be witnesses to Jesus. We are visible, living proof that yes, he does help us in our time of need, so that we experience the same peace he experienced despite the scary future he knew awaited him on the cross. 

And evil people did terrible things to him. He knew they would too, because Scripture described them in detail (Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22)  But instead of hating the people who would do this to him, he asked his Father to forgive them. And instead of fear he went to the cross with joy (Hebrews 12:2), because in his death he would absorb every evil perpetrated by humans into himself so that evil would not fill our future. It may look like it does, because evil still exists in horrible ways, but only so that people turn to him and find that yes, that help is there to overcome any fear of it (Philippians 4:6-7). 

And that’s what we carry with us wherever we go, knowing what Jesus accomplished on the cross, and knowing we have the Holy Spirit living Jesus’ love, joy and peace in us, to enable us to be filled with love for even our worst enemies, rather than being scared of, or hating, them.

It’s one of the staggering gifts of the Holy Spirit we’ve been given by the resurrected Christ so we can be witnesses to him and his undying love for even the worst of sinners. It doesn’t matter what people do to us personally, therefore, because Jesus living his love in us enables us to seek their forgiveness for having no idea what they’re doing or who’s pulling their strings.

Does that mean we never experience despair and fear because Jesus is living in us? But Jesus was also a “man of sorrows” (Isaiah 53:3) and helplessly unable to carry on at times (Matthew 26:38), but in turning to his Father he got the help he needed (Hebrews 5:7), to keep on loving us no matter what we humans did to him. 

So that’s in our future too when Jesus lives in us, because it’s HIS perfect love in us that’s our antidote to fear.  

God doesn’t want to lose anyone to evil

Right now it looks like evil Is winning as psychopathic people in leadership positions are imposing an authoritarian rule that does not tolerate any other narrative or policy than their own. Jesus spilled the beans on that one long ago, of course, when he told his disciples in Mark 10:42, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them,” and in Matthew 20:25, “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around (and) how quickly a little power goes to their heads” (The Message). It happened then, it happens now.

A child soon learns that in school too, as bullies addicted to domination and subjection roam the hallways. And how many of those bullies grow up to be like the apostle Paul in his early days as an up and coming Jewish leader, describing himself as a “blasphemer, a persecutor and a violent man” in 1 Timothy 1:13? Paul, or Saul as he was then, acted as if he was invincible, not only belittling Jesus in person, but also violently attempting to eradicate all pro-Jesus followers. Saul was a carbon copy of the rule book all tyrants live by, who are driven by and drunk on their power over others. 

So why does God let such people exist and cause huge collateral damage among the innocent? And why did he let the devil inhabit a serpent as early as Genesis 3:1 too? Was it simply to make the existence of evil real

This would seem to be the case because in the book of Job, which was written about half way through Genesis, the same point is made. God allowed the devil to cause havoc in Job’s family and livelihood, which understandably raises the question as to why God would allow such evil to happen to a man who was so good (Job 1:8). 

It took 40 chapters to set the scene for the answer, but it came in Job 40:6-14, which in summary is saying, “Evil is real, Job, and only I (God) can deal with it.” And when Job understood that, that’s when the devil’s plan backfired – just as it did with Saul when God opened his eyes too (1 Timothy 1:13-14). 

Evil did not win with either Job or Saul. Nor did it win in the New Testament in the killing of Stephen in Acts 7 or in the killing of thousands of Christians in arenas. Nor did it in having Peter and the apostles thrown in prison, because in every case Christianity not only survived, it grew. 

Every trick the devil comes up with to wreck God’s plan, whether it’s in Old Testament Israel, the New Testament church or the world’s cultures, are all thwarted and they eventually backfire. Imagine the devil’s horror when he was gleefully celebrating Jesus’ death, only to see him resurrected back to life again three days later. Or having to watch the world empires he’s ruled through his demon cohorts all eventually implode and collapse too. Every great empire in history has disintegrated into nothing. 

And here we are again, living in a time of more evil people in politics, social media, corporations and pharmaceutical companies throwing their weight around, gleefully drunk with their ability to deceive and control the gullible through lies, threats and propaganda. But already it’s beginning to backfire as people wake up and see what’s happening. And in time all these tyrants who thought they were invincible will be dead and gone too.  

That’s not to say that evil isn’t powerful. It is, because even at the end of the Bible there are still people holding out against God. But notice how the gates to the new Jerusalem are wide open, and the call is constantly going out to the nations, “Come on in” (Revelation 22:17), because we have a Creator who doesn’t want to lose anyone to evil (Ephesians 1:9-10).

That’s why the gospel is such great news, because no matter what age we live in with its endemic evil, we know it’s all going to disintegrate eventually and be replaced with God’s kingdom. And meanwhile in our own personal trust in God to “lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one,” evil won’t win over us either. 

How can Jesus be “Lord” when it looks like the Devil is winning?

Every day in my internet search for information on what’s going on I’m bumping into boatloads of comments by people who think this world has been gripped by some awful global insanity. More people are even using words like “sinister” and “evil” to describe it too. 

But why sinister and evil? Because the people who are supposed to be looking after us seem unconcerned and totally oblivious to our growing helplessness and despair. So these authorities are either blind and stupid, or they really don’t care. Either way it gives us valid cause for believing that evil is real, and it’s winning.

So why would Jesus, if he truly is what Philippians 2:9-11 describes him as, allow this to happen? In verse 9, “God exalted him to the highest place” so that, verse 11, “every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord,” the boss, the one who’s been given total authority over everything that happens on this planet (Matthew 28:18). So, why, with all this power at his disposal, doesn’t he put a stop to evil, and knock these stupid, uncaring leaders of ours off their arrogant perches? 

Well, one encouraging note is that if evil goes too far and threatens to totally consume us – like it did in Noah’s time when “every inclination of the thoughts of (the human) heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5) – the Lord did put a stop to it. So there’s a limit to what God allows evil to do, just as he limited what the Devil could do to Job (Job 2:4-6). 

We also hear a lot in Scripture about a Day of the Lord, a time of “God’s judgment,” 2 Thessalonians 1:5, when God, in verse 6, “will pay back trouble to those who trouble you.” And in verse 7, “This (pay back) will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.” So, just as predicted (in Psalm 110:1) God makes sure Jesus wins, and all enemies of his (and ours) will be dumped at Jesus’ feet as mere rubble.  

Which is all very encouraging to know, that at some time in the future all evil will be dealt with and justice will be done. But until that time God allows evil to hone its tactics and practice its deceit on us humans. 

But why would God do that? Because the Devil really thinks he can get away with it, so he keeps developing his evil war machine behind the scenes in readiness one day for openly “opposing and exalting himself over everything that is called God…(even) proclaiming himself to be God,” 2 Thessalonians 2:4

In the meantime God allows this “secret power of lawlessness,” verse 7, to think he’s being very clever keeping his evil plans “under wraps” by restraining evil from being too noticeable (the second part of verse 7). This way the Devil can continue to secretly develop his ultimate plan to replace God. And God allows the Devil to think he’s getting away with it. 

Why? Because the time then comes – the “proper” or appropriate time of God’s choosing (verse 6) – when God rips back the curtain to reveal all (verses 3, 6 and 8). And why at this specific time? Because the Devil has “all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders” and “every sort of evil” ready to unleash on humanity. Now we get to see what the Devil’s really been up to, and there’s no hiding it anymore. It’s out in the open so now we see evil for what it really is and what its aim is. 

And God allows the Devil to unleash his fury too, to “deceive those who are perishing.” Why? “Because they refused to love the truth and so be saved,” verse 10. God even “sends them a powerful delusion so they believe the lie” too, verse 11. So all the people who “delighted in wickedness,” verse 12 – who preferred the ways of evil over God’s ways and allowed themselves to believe lies – get to experience evil in its full and dreadful reality. 

For now God allows the Devil to think he’s winning, and for those who love evil to think they’re winning too, but the day is coming when “the Lord will overthrow” and “destroy evil by the splendour of his coming,” verse 8. And then there’ll be no doubting that “Jesus is Lord.”

Will war ever end? (Yes, but how?)

November 11 rolls around again, and we haven’t learnt much on how to prevent war, have we? Because here we are at war still, this time between vaxxers and anti-vaxxers, between those who are pro and anti vaccine passports, who differ widely on vaccines and masks for young children, along with protests in major cities against bullying government policy and threats against our freedoms.  

We have no idea how to stop war at any level either, whether it’s international skirmishes, or civil wars within a country, or (un)civil wars between races, political parties, genders, or those with different sexual identities.

And it’s leaking out more and more that psychopaths on social media, in government, big corporations and pharmaceutical companies are deliberately stoking up wars between us by feeding us with misinformation, propaganda and outright lies to make us angry at each other. 

I’m not surprised that we go to war, then, when narcissistic abusers, who love playing mind games on people, are constantly stirring up fear, deceit and division among us. I used to wonder how a highly influential Christian like Dietrich Bonhoeffer could justify being part of a plot to assassinate Hitler, or why Christians could justify going to war, and even against other Christians – as they did in both World Wars and the American Civl War – but evil is evil and it’s hard not feeling anger and frustration so strong against it that we cannot stop resorting to war, violence and protest, because what else can we do to stop evil in its tracks?

No wonder God had the story of Job included so early in Scripture, because the message was simple: evil is real and only God can deal with it. And in God sending his Son he proved he can deal with it too. Horrible, self-righteous, blindly stupid people managed to kill his Son, but back to life he comes again three days later, and just a few weeks after that thousands of people from different cultures come together as one, and not long after that so do Jews and Gentiles who could never heal their disdain for each other.

And that’s now a vital part of our human history, a story that should be told to every school child, and especially in the days preceding November 11, because we’ve actually got the solution to war and how to end it, and all nicely recorded for us in Ephesians 2. 

We’ve also got the book of James filling us in on the cause of war, so we can nip it in the bud before it gets started. Wars begin because of the devil stirring up evil in the form of “jealousy and selfish ambition,” James 3:14-16. Or as the Message translates it: because of us wanting “to look better than others or get the better of others.” And that starts so early in school nowadays it’s frightening. No wonder people “kill and covet” as adults, James 4:2, having grown up in a constant environment of making oneself and one’s own image the centre of the universe, and hating anyone who dares to tarnish or threaten that image.  

So how on earth do we reverse those years of endless conditioning? We can’t, but Jesus can, and he’s done it very successfully too, witness what happened in Ephesians 2. He “put to death the hostility” between Jew and Gentile, verse 16, by “creating in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace,” verse 15.      

Jesus’ solution to war between peoples was to create a new kind of person all together, that could live just like him with the same attitude of mind he has, and with the same source of power he had as a human to make it happen too (verse 18).

In asking, then, “Will war ever end?” – it’s already in the process of ending, because of what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross and in living his life now in those who trust him.