Saturday, December 23, 2017

Naive about Evil

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Romans 16:16-27

“For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.” Romans 16:19

At lunch with friends a few days ago, the topic of church  came up. Because we all attend the same one, the tone was, perhaps predictably, mixed, with some criticism entering the conversation.

Criticism of church, its programs, leaders, worship style etc. (and the temptation to join in) always makes me a little squirmy. I’m too familiar with the story of the Israelites wandering through the wilderness for forty years, due in large part to their lack of trust in God and grumbling, to feel nonchalant about it.

Our focus verse  (Romans 16:19) and others (like “Be wise as serpents, harmless as doves” - Matthew 10:16, and "that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ" - Philippians 1:10) lead me to conclude that God values a certain innocence or naiveté toward evil.

My Bible’s study notes say about the phrase “simple concerning evil”: “Christians should not try to become experts about all the details of evil deeds” - Wayne Grudem, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1575. We simply don’t get involved in it and thus remain blissfully ignorant of its dark corridors.

But is church gossip really “evil”?

It is if we’re critiquing a pastor or pastors who are following God’s direction. For when we do that, aren’t we, in effect, criticizing God and demonstrating that we don't trust God to do good by us?

So how do we nurture a naiveté toward this brand of evil? Some ways, I think, are to refuse to let gossip go on too long in our hearing, to resist a critical spirit raising its ugly head in our own thinking, and for sure to set a guard against criticism from coming out of our own mouths.

Dear Father, help me to be simple in my trust of Your goodness revealed in the leaders You have placed over me in my church. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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