What Evil Looks Like

photo by TW Collins.flickr.creative commons When I was little, I used to watch a video called "Hide 'Em In Your Heart." They were Bible verses made into songs and set against illustrations of what the verse might be saying. For example, in "when I am afraid, I will trust in You" (Ps. 56:3) a little girl gets scared of a thunderstorm outside her window, grabs her Bible and starts to read.

If I hear something, I am likely to remember it. My brain is wired for soundbites, and if it's in a movie, or a song, it may never leave my brain. This is a very helpful skill at parties.

There is a song on that video to illustrate the verse "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:21). The setting is an elementary school lunch room and three bullies steal a young boy's lunch and start tossing it around over his head until another boy (a good boy) comes along and catches it, returning it to the other boy and befriending him.

I still sing this song sometimes.

It helped me to memorize this verse, but it also showed me a picture of evil. In my ever-literal mind, sometimes I forget that evil is not always that blatant. Sometimes, evil sneaks up on me, dressed in something pretty, something that I want. There is not always a "good boy" to catch my lunch from the air, return it to me, and become my friend.

The older I get, the more evil disturbs me. I seem to notice it more, and in more sneaky places. Evil resides in a casual comment spoken by a stranger, in the hopelessness of a friend, and in my very heart.

Sometimes it looks like concern, or sarcasm, or bitterness. It's easy for me to spot a staged bully, tossing a brown paper bag around in a lunchroom, but it's more difficult for me to notice when I'm entering a conversation filled with death, a thought which should be taken captive, or an attitude which is not of God.

photo by Thomas Hawk.flickr.creative commons

I love to write about noticing the good things about life. I would prefer to focus on the way a summer day feels, the joy community brings, the beauty of a good piece of music. These are wonderful and important things, and worthy of my notice, but I don't want to be so caught up seeing beauty in everything that I fail to notice something with no beauty, something evil.

Sometimes, evil looks a lot like a good thing, only twisted a little.

There are times when I shouldn't be taking a picture. Sometimes I should be running as fast as I can in the opposite direction.

Sometimes, the Holy Spirit telling me to run, (even from myself), is my salvation from evil. My defender from the bullies doesn't always storm in and solve the situation, winning the day in the way I would like, with no action on my part. Sometimes He asks me to remove myself, sometimes He plucks it, painfully, out of me.

I am thankful for the protection of God over my life. He has guarded my naivete, but sometimes He allows me to learn from an intersection with evil in my life. This must be all a part of living in a place that is not my home, that is not fully good. I am in this world, for now, but everything that I am in Christ in is conflict with the world.

I have been thinking a lot lately of another verse (this one doesn't have a song, as far as I know).

"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves." (Matthew 10:16).

As a believer, I have the Holy Spirit inside of me. With His help, I can do all things, from recognizing the blessings of God, to identifying evil, and having the strength to stand.